Every top-end club lost at least one game this week, so the shufflings up top are easy to argue and disagree with. In fact, there are so few decent (let alone consistent) teams this year, I can’t believe I’m putting some of them in the top-10, but I’m forced to.
1. San Antonio Spurs (45-9): Lost a second game on their rodeo rode trip (are now only 5-2 on the trip, with two games remaining) but it’s not enough to make anyone think they’re not the best team. Play at Chicago on Thursday to end the extended journey.
2. Dallas Mavericks (38-16): Lost by one to Denver, on the road, at the buzzer, on the second night of a back-to-back. That’s their only loss since Dirk has been healthy (11-1).
3. Miami Heat (39-15): Still can’t beat the Celtics, but I’m still picking them at #3 while Boston is hurt.
4. Orlando Magic (35-21): Kept losing to the good teams they had faced in February (Mia, Bos, NO) until they beat the tar out of the Lakers on Sunday.
5. Los Angeles Lakers (38-17): Sure the C’s were hobbled, but the Lakers finally got a win against a good team this season. Then they got their teeth kicked in by Orlando.
6. Boston Celtics (39-14): Are hurt and hobbled and short-benched and ill, so they dropped two close ones to the Bobcats and to the Lakers. Then they did to LeBron what they always do to LeBron.
7. Chicago Bulls (36-16): Could really use Noah to settle their defense – he’s set to return right after the All-Star break, in time for their match-up with Miami on the 24th. Before then they have SanAn this Thursday.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (30-26): Beat OKC and Denver this week, which is about a minor miracle compared to what these other jokers have been doing recently.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-19): I feel like the butt of Dave Chappelle’s line “Gotcha, bitch” whenever I start to place OKC a little too high or a little too low on the list (were #6 last week, then lost to Memphis and Golden State).
10. Portland Trail Blazers (30-24): Were the only team to win all their games this week, including an exciting victory over the Bulls. LaMarcus Aldridge continues his All-Star snub vengeance tour.
11. Indiana Pacers (21-27): Had 5 games this week, and won them all except for a fourth-quarter collapse in Miami on Tuesday. Get them at home this Tuesday. Have heavy “can drop down a lot quickly” potential.
12. Houston Rockets (25-30): Keep losing too many tight ones (by 4 to Minny, by 4 to Dallas) to ever truly get rolling.
13. Philadelphia 76ers (26-28): Held San Antonio to 71 points in the stunning win. Yes, that San Antonio. Contributions are coming from different places every night.
14. Phoenix Suns (26-26): Cruising along, taking care of business, and then they lost to the Kings at home while DeMarcus Cousins was forced to sit back in Sacramento. Should be able to get the split this week (Utah, Dallas) and remain .500 going into the break.
15. Golden State Warriors (24-29): Topped OKC and Denver while losing badly to the Suns, twice. I assume that means they’ll somehow split with the Hornets and Jazz in a way we don’t expect (blow-out win and a loss at the buzzer?).
16. New Jersey Nets (17-38): They’re now 7-7 since officially saying they’re done with Carmelo. Let’s see how well they do this far up the rankings (for the record, they will certainly lose their next three contests, which are SA, @Bos, @SA).
17. Charlotte Bobcats (23-31): Charlotte’s week epitomizes the NBA of late: beat the Celtics and Hawks, lost to Indy and New Jersey. All were close. MJ made sure he created a distraction for his club this week by suiting up for practice – reason #1,000 he will never be a successful front-office guy.
18. New Orleans Hornets (33-23): Note to self: the Hornets only get really good for three-week stretches at a time (which means someone could get really burned in the playoffs – Dallas match-up alert).
19. Denver Nuggets (31-24): Carmelo: scores a lot, adds questionable value to his club. Has anyone else picked up on this yet?
20. Atlanta Hawks (33-20): Should have cruised through their super-easy week of nothing but Philly and Charlotte at home. Instead they lost by 34 to the Sixers and at the buzzer to the Bobcats. Thankfully Al Horford got picked for the All-Star Game because it’s clear the Hawks need a healthy Horford to not be terrible; he’s missed 4 games, and two of them went for 34- and 41-point losses.
21. New York Knicks (27-26): Weren’t they 21-14, like, just the other day? Face four teams with winning percentages of .589 or better over their next six contests.
22. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-41): Pulled out back-to-back wins in NO and Houston. Might actually be able to do something against Portland and LAC before the break.
23. Utah Jazz (31-24): Good one, Deron Williams.
24. Detroit Pistons (20-35): At least they weren’t the ones to give Cleveland a win.
25. Washington Wizards (15-38): Managed wins over the Bucks and the Cavs. Baby steps.
26. Sacramento Kings (13-38): Is anyone surprised their first win of the month was with DeMarcus Cousins unofficially suspended for fighting a teammate after a game? He is the perfect case study for why you don’t draft this big of a head case no matter what his talent level.
27. Milwaukee Bucks (20-33): Came off a horrendous week and posted…another horrendous week. They lost to the Wizards for goodness sake.
28. Toronto Raptors (15-40): Managed to top the wayward Clippers for a rare win. Rookie Ed Davis is looking like a keeper.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-46): Their only remaining game before the break is the Lakers. Will certainly be back in the CC Spot next week.
30. Los Angeles Clippers (20-34): Lost to Cleveland and Toronto this week. You move to last place for that display – them’s the rules.