1. Golden State Warriors (53-5) Last week: 1- Stephen Curry has put up video game numbers for a while now, but this weekend he hit actual video game shots. That half-court game-winning buzzer-beater is not luck. He works on those. He’s got to be the unanimous MVP, right?
2. San Antonio Spurs (50-9) Last week: 2 – Last week’s three double-digit wins in which the opponents were held to 92 points, 78 points, and 94 points, is much more Spurs-like than the week before (2-1, allowed 105-plus points each game). Wetern Confernce Finals are going to be something wild.
3. Toronto Raptors (39-19) Last week: 3 – Love this Raptors team. Down nine to the Cavs in the fourth quarter, they climb back on Kyle Lowry’s career-night and come up with a huge win at home. That win gives the Raps a 2-1 season series advantage, which could be important at the end of the season.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (42-17) Last week: 4 – The Cavs are still holding the top spot in the East, but you just get the feeling things aren’t right behind the scenes. Whispers of Kyrie Irving being unhappy, constant questions on how they can fit Kevin Love in, etc. Cause for concern in Cleveland?
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (42-18) Last week: 5 – On Monday against the Kings, Russell Westbrook had his 20th triple double over the last two seasons. It’s crazy that Westbrook would probably be taken before Durant now. That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?
6. Boston Celtics (36-25) Last week: 7 – The C’s went 3-0 over the last week, coming out on top in three very hard-fought games. The win over Utah is perhaps most impressive, as Boston fought for a full 48 minutes, took a late lead on Jae Crowder’s three-pointer, and sealed it with an Avery Bradley block.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (39-20) Last week: 6 – The Clippers introduced a new mascot on Monday, Chuck the Condor. I don’t get it. But it was good that Blake Griffin didn’t punch him out. Progress! Doc Rivers recently said Griffin is “not close” to returning, though he’s shooting.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (32-28) Last week: 9 – What a month for Damian Lillard – historically good, actually. His 29.82 points per game average is the third-highest scoring month in Blazers history. The best thing that could have happened to him was being snubbed for the All-Star Team.
9. Atlanta Hawks (33-27) Last week: 10 – Two straight wins going into Tuesday night in Golden State (gulp). Kris Humphries is a really nice addition to the team in what should be a tight East playoff race. Hump can still rebound and has developed an outside shot. He can certainly help them win.
10. Indiana Pacers (31-29) Last week: 8 – Uh oh. Three straight losses by the Pacers and just like that they’re on the brink off being on the outside looking in. With three games coming up this week against the Bucks, Bobcats, and Wizards – all on the road – this is a big stretch for them.
11. Dallas Mavericks (32-28) Last week: 11 – The Mavs have won two games in a row and David Lee has played a key role in each of those games. Perhaps that addition is more important for them than we thought. Then again, the Nuggets and T-Wolves aren’t the best competition.
12. Miami Heat (33-26) Last week: 12 – It pays to be friendly in the NBA. Joe Johnson chose the Heat because of his connections with Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire. Everybody knows Johnson is the definition of a “closer” so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in down the stretch.
13. Detroit Pistons (31-29) Last week: 16 – Streaky, streaky. After five straight losses, the Pistons have won four straight including two against the two best teams in the East, Cleveland (on the road) and Toronto (at home). But… that Raptors win came without Kyle Lowry.
14. Memphis Grizzlies (35-24) Last week: 13 – Sorry, but two wins to the Lakers and LOSS to the Suns isn’t going to get you very far. They’ve got three home games coming up, including a chance at redemption on Phoenix.
15. Utah Jazz (28-31) Last week: 14 – The Jazz suffered a really tough loss on the road to Boston, giving them a three-game losing streak. But I refuse to believe they’re a worse team than the Rockets. I think they’ll sneak into the playoffs ahead of them.
16. Charlotte Hornets (30-28) Last week: 15 – Losers of two of their last three, which includes a loss to the Hawks thanks in part to a nine-point first quarter. Yes, nine. They shot 2-for-21 from the field in the first 12 minutes. We know they’ll struggle at times offensively, but wow.
17. Washington Wizards (29-30) Last week: 19 – Three straight wins for a Wizards team that could become dangerous over the final 20-plus games of the season. Craziest thing about it all? They’re just 1.5 games out of the East’s No. 6 seed.
18. Chicago Bulls (30-28) Last week: 17 – Derrick Rose is injured, Jimmy Butler is injured, Joakim Noah is out for the season, the Bulls did nothing at the trade deadline… So how ’bout those Blackhawks?!
19. Houston Rockets (29-31) Last week: 18 – Just one good win for the Rockets since Feb 2., and it came last week against a very hot Blazers team. They’ve got a winnable game against the Pelicans at home on Wednesday before a five-game road trip that takes them through the East.
20. Orlando Magic (26-32) Last week: 20 – The Magic could still realistically make a late playoff push, but with the way the Pistons and Wizards are playing, it’s not going to be easy. Those two teams will make it in before they do.
21. Sacramento Kings (24-34) Last week: 21 – DeMarcus Cousins had a moment of clarity as he wound up to punch Thunder big man Steven Adams Monday night. He stopped in the middle of it (when Adams probably deserved at least a shove). Perhaps that’s a sign of maturity?!
22. Milwaukee Bucks (25-35) Last week: 22 – Who knows for sure if the Bucks will make a late-season playoff push (they probably won’t). At the very least, they can get more use out of their young guys in Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo
23. Denver Nuggets (23-37) Last week: 23 – They’re going to be without Danilo Gallinari for about a month after the forward tore two ligaments in his ankle. Ouch. He’s hard a hard time staying healthy over his career.
24. New Orleans Pelicans (23-35) Last week: 24 – Kendrick Perkins says there are some guys in the locker room who do believe the Pelicans can make the playoffs, and others who don’t believe. If that’s the case, they don’t have a shot.
25. New York Knicks (25-36) Last week: 25 – We essentially got confirmation from Amare Stoudemire that Carmelo Anthony wasn’t a fan of Linsanity. I guess Melo would rather be “the guy” on a boring team going nowhere.
26. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-41) Last Week: 26 – To honor Leap Year Day on Monday, Wolves guard Zach LaVine jumped over an 18-wheeler . . . the long way.
27. Brooklyn Nets (17-43) Last week: 27 – Joe Johnson’s Nets career is over. It’s like baseball: What’s the point of having a good closer when you don’t win any games?
28. Philadelphia 76ers (8-52) Last week: 28 – The Sixers find themselves in very familiar territory . . . with the longest current losing streak in the NBA – nine games (and counting).
29. Los Angeles Lakers (11-49) Last week: 29 – Pretty cool that Kobe Bryant signed a pair of sneakers for Tony Allen and wrote “The best defender I ever faced.” Of course, Bryant and Allen had some huge battles over their respective careers, but Allen’s gotta be pumped to hear that.
30. Phoenix Suns (15-44) Last week: 30 – Whoa. A win. The Suns snapped a 13-game losing streak with a win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Alex Len looks good over the last four games. So there’s that.