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1) Chicago Bulls (23-6) – The Bulls are rolling over teams right now. That, combined with a semi-rough week out of OKC, puts Bulls are back on top. Seriously, four straight blowout wins on the road. Impressive.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6) – OKC suffered two losses this week which pushes them down into the #2 spot. And how is James Harden not an All-Star? I don’t think he’s missed a shot yet this year.
3) Miami Heat (20-7) – The Heat keep taking care of business. It’s all about what they can do in the playoffs with this team.
4) San Antonio Spurs (19-9) – Are the Spurs really in the top five again? Yup. Winning six straight games will do that for you.
5) Los Angeles Clippers (17-8) – The big Clipper news this week was that Chauncey Billups would miss the rest of the season wit a torn Achilles tendon. The Clippers will be fine in the regular season without him, but he will be missed come playoff time.
6) Indiana Pacers (17-10) – It wasn’t a great week for Indiana, but I still really like their talent. Congratulations to Roy Hibbert on his first All-Star selection. Well deserved.
7) Atlanta Hawks (18-9) – It’s not like me to show some love to an Atlanta Hawks player, but if James Harden is my All-Star snub in the West, Josh Smith is my All-Star snub in the East.
8) Philadelphia 76ers (19-9) – The 76ers had a tough, tough week with four straight games against playoff teams. Considering that, a 2-2 week is perfectly reasonable. They really need Spencer Hawes to get and stay healthy.
9) Dallas Mavericks (17-11) – Don’t let me down, Dallas. Whatever the reason for Dirk Nowitzki’s time off, it worked. He has looked like the old Dirk lately, and that means everything to this team.
10) Houston Rockets (16-11) – Do you know why I like Houston so much? Because everyone on that team is solid. They are selfless and smart, and they play hard. I always figured they’d be back in the playoff race after their slow start.
11) Orlando Magic (17-11) – Orlando handed the Miami Heat a double-digit loss this week, which included a massive 20-20 game from Dwight Howard. That would be an interesting playoff matchup … who can handle Howard on that team?
12) Portland Trailblazers (15-13) – Question I always ask myself when I watch the Blazers: Is Raymond Felton out of shape or was he always this large?
13) Los Angeles Lakers (15-12) – I know they’re struggling, but I’m not going to let myself sleep on this team. They have too much talent to fail.
14) Boston Celtics (14-12) – Let me tell you why the last two losses don’t bother me. Against the Lakers, the Celtics had the ball in overtime for a chance to win the game. If you had asked me before the play ‘If you could pick any shot for this last play what would it be?’ I would have answered with a Paul Pierce jumper from the elbow. That’s his sweet spot. He makes that shot more than he misses it. He got his shot and he missed it. There is nothing you can do at that point. The loss to the Raptors last night was a bit more alarming, but even that didn’t bother me all that much. We knew before the season started that this old team would struggle in back-to-back games. And boy did they struggle last night. Nothing came easy, and nothing was falling. The biggest surprise was that the one of the oldest players, Kevin Garnett, actually played well, while Rajon Rondo just couldn’t get anything going. Its o.k. though, don’t panic. I think the Celtics will be just fine … just fine in the sense that I think they will make the playoffs, make it past round one, and then get eliminated by either the Heat or the Bulls.
15) New York Knicks (13-15) – JEREMYYYYYYYYY LINNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!! How fun is this? NBA, guys. Basketball is the best. One of my favorite NBA writers David Aldridge tweeted this gem last night – “The Lakers need a CoLINoscopy.” If loving Jeremy Lin is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
16) Denver Nuggets (16-12) – I have to be honest, I’m pretty surprised they fell this far this fast. I guess losing five straight games will do that to you.
17) Memphis Grizzlies (14-13) – I keep waiting for the Grizzlies coming-out party. It hasn’t happened yet and I’m beginning to wonder if it ever will.
18) Milwaukee Bucks (12-15) – Is it funny or sad that Brandon Jennings is already talking about jumping ship for a bigger market once he gets the opportunity? What was this whole lockout about again?
20) Utah Jazz (13-12) – Losers of three straight games, the Jazz seem to have finally fallen back down to earth.
21) Sacramento Kings (10-17) – Is it crazy of me to think that this team is starting to figure it out? They have won 4 of their last 5 games including wins over Portland and Oklahoma City. That’s something.
22) Phoenix Suns (12-15) – Comercio Steve Nash.
23) Cleveland Cavaliers (10-16) – You know what? Ramon Sessions is pretty good. He’s always been pretty good. It’s a shame he’s never been on a good team.
24) Golden State Warriors (9-14) – Every year around this time I hear the same old ‘Monta Ellis got snubbed’ argument. I’ve never felt he was an All-star. I don’t get it. He’s a good player, but it takes a really, really good player to make the All-Star team in the West as a guard.
25) Toronto Raptors (9-19) – I know I already downplayed their victory over the Celtics from a Boston perspective, but looking at it from the Raptors point of view…beating Boston without your best player is a good win for this team.
26) Detroit Pistons (8-20) – Would yah look at that… four straight wins for Detroit. Good on you, Lawrence Frank.
27) New Jersey Nets (8-21) – One week after I praised New Jersey for playing some solid basketball, they went out and lost five games in a row. Nice to see things are back to normal.
28) Washington Wizards (5-22) – Well, they beat the Raptors Monday night …
29) New Orleans Hornets (4-23) – How weird has this Chris Kaman thing been? They shelved him for a few games so they could shop him around without the risk of him getting hurt, but then they decided they didn’t want to do that anymore and now he’s playing big minutes for them. He’ll help someone.
30) Charlotte Bobcats (3-24) – My favorite streak in the NBA = 13 straight losses.