1. Miami Heat – 56-15 (Last week: 1) – The streak finally comes to an end at 27 in a row. Although they lost to the Bulls, Chicago looked impressive, playing more physical than any opponent the Heat have seen in a while. It’s still championship or bust for Miami though. There’s no way a team beats them in a four-game series. LeBron nearly hits a triple double every contest, and Chris Bosh continues to be impressive while Dwyane Wade is ailing.
2. San Antonio Spurs – 54-17 (Last week: 2) – Danny Green’s six three pointers and Tim Duncan’s 23 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks were vital in their one point win over the Nuggets Wednesday is just one prime example of how anyone can step up huge on any given night with this team.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder – 53-19 (Last week: 3) – It’s a tossup between OKC and San Antonio as to whom is the better team in the West. However, OKC has the more favourable schedule, playing only four teams with winning records in their final 15 games — which could be a blessing or a curse depending on how ready that schedule makes them for the playoffs. The Spurs play nine of their final 12 against winning teams.
4. Denver Nuggets – 49-24 (Last week: 4) – Winning 15 in a row until their streak was snapped by New Orleans Monday, anyone could argue they’re the second hottest team in the NBA, only behind Miami of course.
5. Los Angeles Clippers – 49-23 (Last week: 6) – It’s not just dunk city in LA, it’s also arc city – as in, the Clippers are hot from behind the arc. The Clips sunk 13 of 29 from three-point range against the Hornets Wednesday. The Clippers are multi-dimensional and should still be contenders for the NBA title.
6. Indiana Pacers – 46-27 (Last week: 7) – Indiana leads the Central Division and have won four straight while owning the second best record in the Eastern Conference. If there is any team that can even fathom beating Miami, it’s Indiana. Just think what they could do if they actually had a healthy Danny Granger?
7. New York Knicks – 44-26 (Last week: 9) – An impressive win over the Grizzlies this week; don’t look now, but the Knicks have won six in a row. J.R. Smith is a big reason for that streak, scoring 67 in their last two games.
8. Brooklyn Nets – 42-29 (Last week: 8) – Reggie Evans was terrific in the Nets’ win over the Blazers Wednesday. He had 22 points and 26 rebounds. The Nets have won four of five, scoring 95 points or more in every contest.
9. Chicago Bulls – 39-31 (Last week: 13) – Just when you want to count Chicago out, they take down the Heat, ending Miami’s streak of 27 wins in a row – all while doing so not only without Derrick Rose, but All-Star Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton as well.
10. Memphis Grizzlies – 47-24 (Last week: 5) – Just when they get on a roll, Marc Gasol goes down with an abdominal tear. Eight of their final 13 games are on the road. It’s looking more like a No. 5 seed is a best-case scenario.
11. Golden State Warriors – 41-32 (Last week: 10) – The Warriors defense is ranked third for the month of March, but they’ll need a healthy Stephen Curry if they want any shot of advancing deep into the playoffs. They beat L.A. but lost to Sacramento this past week.
12. Houston Rockets – 39-32 (Last week: 17) – They beat the Spurs by one point on Sunday, which proves they’re for real.
13. Atlanta Hawks – 40-32 (Last week: 12) – With their win over the Raptors, they’ve officially clinched a playoff spot, sending them to their sixth straight post-season – the longest active streak in the East. Al Horford continues to lead the way, scoring 26 points and pulling down 12 boards in Wednesday’s win. This team shouldn’t be completely overlooked.
14. Boston Celtics – 37-34 (Last week: 11) – Kevin Garnett is out two weeks but in his absence is Jeff Green, who has averaged over 20 points and 5 boards as a starter.
15. Milwaukee Bucks – 35-36 (Last week: 15) – Five guys scoring 16 points or more against the Lakers Thursday, snapping a four game losing streak. The big win should give them confidence they belong in the playoffs.
16. Los Angeles Lakers – 37-36 (Last week: 14) – Dwight Howard went 15/15, but Pau Gasol looked anemic and Kobe Bryant used a crutch to leave the game after the loss against the Bucks Thursday; not a good sign. They’re now only a half game above Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot.
17. Dallas Mavericks 35-37 (Last week: 16) – Dirk Nowitzki and five of his teammates have vowed to not shave until their team gets back to .500. After getting blown out by the Pacers Thursday, it looks like their beards will be alive for quite awhile.
18. Utah Jazz – 36-36 (Last week: 19) – Gordon Heyward chipped in 26 points in a solid effort against the Suns Wednesday. That win means it’s two straight for the Jazz, who had previously lost 12 of their last 15. Eight of their final 12 games are at home, so a playoff push is still very likely.
19. Portland Trail Blazers – 33-38 (Last week: 18) – Nicolas Batum’s wrist is obviously still hurt. His injury is just the cap to an up and down season that looks to be trending downward.
20. Sacramento Kings 27-46 (Last week: 20) – When he’s not complaining, DeMarcus Cousins can be elite. In only three quarters against Phoenix, he scored 34 points and pulled in 14 rebounds. He’s also about the only bright spot on a team that’s struggling to keep their zip code.
21. Washington Wizards – 26-45 (Last week: 22) – John Wall! 47 points?? The Wizards keep proving they’re not the team they started as at the beginning of the year; the improvement of Wall being one reason.
22. Philadelphia 76ers – 28-43 (Last week: 21) – Philly is 20-17 at home but horrible on the road, just ending a 15-game road losing streak. After getting creamed by the Clippers, they only lost to a hot Denver team by one point – clearly showing their inconsistency.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves -25-45 (Last week: 25) – 4-6 in their last 10 games without Kevin Love. He might be able to return soon, but some are wondering if it’s worth it considering more losses might ensure a better draft pick. Love is a competitor though. If he’s able to play, he will.
24. New Orleans Hornets – 25-47 (Last week: 26) – Who would have thought it would have been the Hornets to break the 15-game Denver win streak? Anthony Davis keeps improving, almost averaging a double-double since the break.
25. Toronto Raptors -26-45 (Last week: 24) – Had 20 turnovers against the Hawks Wednesday. Amir Johnson exited in the game with an injury; upon his exit, Toronto was outscored 55-29.
26. Cleveland Cavaliers – 22-48 (Last week: 23) – Make it only two wins for the Cavs in the month of March, who have now lost six straight.
27. Detroit Pistons – 24-48 (Last week: 27) – This team only has two wins since the All-Star break. The only team they’ve beaten all month is Charlotte… that was by one point. One.
28. Phoenix Suns – 23-50 (Last week: 28) – Have now lost nine of eleven. Since blowing out the Lakers last Monday (their only bright spot in a while), they’ve lost five straight.
29. Charlotte Bobcats -17-54 (Last week: 30) – Josh McRoberts has been playing solid ball, leading the Cats to a near three-game winning streak. They’re 4-4 in their last eight games and they still might have a No. 1 pick looming. But then again, they’re not Orlando.
30. Orlando Magic – 18-54 (Last week: 29) – Losers of eight straight, they lost the ‘battle of the bad’ in a 114-108 loss to the lowly Bobcats.