10. Memphis Grizzlies (31-26)
The Grizzlies have been hot since the New Year, going 17-8 in their past 25 games. The struggling Utah Jazz better watch out as Memphis looks to creep up as the 8th seed.
Next Game: @ DEN (Tues), @ MIN (Weds)
9. Portland Trailblazers (32-24)
LaMarcus Aldridge has been playing All-Star caliber basketball, regardless of getting snub by voters, and has carried Portland into playoff position. The Blazers have hit their stride, positing huge wins last week against the Bulls and Hornets.
Next Game: LAL (Weds), DEN (Fri)
8. Oklahoma City Thunder (35-19)
The Thunder are a long shot to win the NBA Title with that kind of defense, but Oklahoma City fans should be excited for the future after seeing Durant and Westbrook light up the All-Star game.
Next Game: LAC (Tues), @ SAS (Weds)
7. Orlando Magic (36-21)
Defensively, the Magic are among the best, holding the Lakers to 75 points and Boston to 91 (even though they lost). If the Magic can gain some consistency in their offense they can make something happen.
Next Game: SAC (Weds), OKC (Fri)
6. Los Angeles Lakers (38-19)
This team looks nothing but bored to me. After winning two titles back-to-back, it seems as if they are just going through the motions right now. As long is Kobe Bryant is on this squad, the Lakers will always have a shot. Will his teammates be able to turn the switch when time comes?
Next Game: ATL (Tues), @ POR (Weds)
5. Boston Celtics (40-14)
It’s just another day at the office for this veteran squad. The Celtics continue to win big games, knocking off Miami for a third time.
Next Game: @ GSW (Tues), @ DEN (Thu)
4. Chicago Bulls (38-16)
Derrick Rose would be my season MVP right now (sorry Lebron) if the season concluded. This kid has shown huge improvement from last season, especially with his midrange game. Let’s not forget the career high in points he set against the San Antonio Spurs as he was virtually unstoppable. Note to other teams: Joakim Noah returns from injury this week.
Next Game: @ TOR (Weds), MIA (Thu)
3. San Antonio Spurs (46-10)
The Spurs finally return home from their annual Rodeo Road Trip going 6-3, where they will have a three-game home stand. Home-court advantage in the West is theirs to lose. Look for the San Antonio to put together another win streak, as they hold the best home-record in the league at 25-2.
Next Game: OKC (Weds), NJ (Fri)
2. Miami Heat (41-15)
The Heat have been surging, only having one loss so far this month to the Celtics. Lebron looks the most comfortable he has been all season and the big three are clicking. I would want no business playing Miami in a seven-game series, and I’m sure coaches would agree.
Next Game: @ SAC (Tues), @ CHI (Thu)
1. Dallas Mavericks (40-16)
Arguably the hottest team in the league right now, winning 13 out of their last 14. If it weren’t for Dirk’s injury, the Mavs would be neck-to-neck with the Spurs right now.
Next Game: UTAH (Tues), @ WAS (Sat)