NBA: Who’s hot, who’s not?

Rondo rumors are sure to begin again.

HOT

What says hot like the Heat? Look, I already said this once, but it warrants mentioning one more time: The Heat are the team to beat this year, like it or not. They cruised into the All-Star Break on an eight-game winning streak and share the best record in the NBA with the Thunder. Good luck slowing them down.
 
How fitting it would be (or sickening) if it was Larry Bird’s Pacers that knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs this season, essentially ending an era for the C’s — the same era that Celtics GM Danny Ainge didn’t want to see dwindle away, like he watched happen in the old Big Three era. The Pacers are back on track and could make a run at the No. 3 seed.
 
I didn’t consider the Spurs as a legitimate NBA Finals threat because I think they’re a little too old and lack depth. But they’re 9-1 in their last 10 games prior to Tuesday night, and nearly unbeatable at home (13-1). If they stay hot and land the No. 2 seed in the West (behind Oklahoma City), you can count on them advancing to the Western Conference finals and giving the Thunder a great series. Tony Parker is playing out of his mind right now.

NOT

The All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time for the 76ers, who lost five straight heading into it. It looks like they may level out a bit, but they’re too young and deep to slide for too long. The Atlantic Division is by far to be the weakest division in the NBA and Doug Collins’ crew should still be the favorite to take the division crown.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Celtics could have gained a few games on the flailing Sixers prior to the break?

Instead, the C’s countered that five-game losing streak with one of their own heading into the break. I wish I could say things are looking up for them right now, but the next two weeks will be filled with trade rumors, and it could affect their play even more.
 
There may not be a more confusing team in the NBA right now than the Trailblazers. Since starting the year 7-2, they’ve only strung together two wins in a row once. Don’t let their 40-point win over San Antonio fool you — the Spurs sat Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. They’ll win big, but lose close games, and now they’re clinging to the eighth seed.



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