Follow me on Twitter: @TommyBeer
1. Houston Rockets
2017-18 record: 46-13
The Rockets are rolling, winners of 12 straight games and 19 of their last 21. And Houston hasn’t just been squeaking by opponents during this recent run. The Rockets average margin of victory during their current 12-game winning streak is 12.5 points.
2. Golden State Warriors
2017-18 record: 46-14
The Warriors stumbled into All-Star weekend, going 4-4 over their final eight games before the break. However, Golden State has reasserted their dominance in the two games they've played since. The Dubs scored 134 points in a win over the Clippers on Thursday and then thrashed the Thunder on Saturday night. Still, one item to keep an eye on: Draymond Green picked his league-leading 15th technical foul in the win over OKC. One more technical and Green will earn an automatic suspension.
3. Toronto Raptors
2017-18 record: 41-17
The Raps now possess the best record in the Eastern Conference. This is noteworthy because, over the last five years, Toronto is 12-10 in the postseason at home and just 5-14 on the road.
4. Boston Celtics
2017-18 record: 42-19
After three straight losses heading into the All-Star break, the Celtics won both ends of a back-to-back over the weekend, in convincing fashion. The C’s host the lowly Grizzlies on Monday and the Hornets on Wednesday, before traveling to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets later in the week.
Editor's Note: Looking for an edge in your fantasy leagues? The NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, the popular Pickups of the Day column, exclusive columns and customizable stat options. It's the extra tool that can take your fantasy basketball teams to the next level.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
2017-18 record: 35-24
The reshuffled Cavs were clicking on all cylinders after the trade deadline, winning three straight games. However, they lost two of three last week, with their sole win coming against Memphis. In Sunday’s loss to the Spurs, LeBron James scored 33 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out nine assists, but the rest of Cleveland's starting five failed to show up. George Hill, Cedi Osman, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson combined to tally a total of 14 points (on 6-of-28 shooting), 18 rebounds and one assist.
6. Washington Wizards
2017-18 record: 35-25
The Wizards averaged 23.2 assists per game over the first 48 games of the season, which ranked 11th in the NBA. However, since John Wall (knee) has been sidelined, Washington is leading the league in assists, averaging 30.3 assists per contest (the Warriors rank second at 29.5). The Wiz are 9-3 over this current 12-game stretch.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
2017-18 record: 34-26
The Blazers have won four of their last five, thanks in large part to the scorching hot Damian Lillard. Over Portland’s previous five contests, Lillard is averaging 39.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.8 treys, whiles shooting 51.2 percent from the floor and 93.1 percent from the charity stripe.
8. San Antonio Spurs
2017-18 record: 36-25
Heading into their matchup with the Cavs in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, the Spurs had lost four straight games, and six of their last seven. However, San Antonio delivered a much-needed win, beating the Cavs by 14 points. All five Spurs starters scored in double-figures, and Danny Green chipped in 22 points off the bench.
9. Indiana Pacers
2017-18 record: 34-25
The Pacers rarely seem even to get mentioned as legit Eastern Conference contenders, but Indiana has won four straight and eight of their last ten, to pull within a half-game of the fourth-seeded Wizards. The Pacers are also just one game behind Cleveland in the Central division.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 record: 37-26
The Wolves lost to Rockets on Friday night, but far more disheartening was losing Jimmy Butler to a torn meniscus. Butler underwent successful surgery on Sunday. However, it’s possible he could return to the Wolves lineup within 4-6 weeks, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports.
11. Milwaukee Bucks
2017-18 record: 33-26
The Bucks lost to the Pelicans in overtime on Sunday, but are still 10-4 in the 14 games they’ve played since replacing Jason Kidd with new head coach Joe Prunty.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
2017-18 record: 34-27
Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George shot a combined 11-of-46 from the floor (23.9 percent) in Saturday’s embarrassing loss to the Warriors. PG-13 missed 13 of his 14 field goal attempts. Carmelo Anthony has shot below 50 percent from the floor in 13 straight games.
13. Denver Nuggets
2017-18 record: 33-27
Over the Nuggets last five games, Nikola Jokic is averaging 24.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 11.0 assists, while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from 3-point territory. Seriously.
14. Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 record: 32-26
The Sixers had their seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Wizards. The last time Philadelphia had won seven straight was back in January of 2009. The 76ers still have their 10-game home winning streak intact. It’s their longest such streak since Oct. 30-Dec. 4, 2002.
15. New Orleans Pelicans
2017-18 record: 33-26
The Pelicans have won a season-high five straight games. During this five-game stretch, Anthony Davis has tallied a total of 196 points and 72 rebounds. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Davis is the first NBA player since Shaquille O’Neal in March 2000 to produce at least that many points and rebounds over a five-game span and the first since Moses Malone in February 1982 to do so with his team winning all five games.
16. Utah Jazz
2017-18 record: 31-29
Donovan Mitchell finished with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists in Utah’s victory over the Mavericks on Saturday night. It was his fourth game with at least 20 points, five boards and five dimes. Per Elias Sports research, that ties a franchise record for most 20/5/5 games by a player in his rookie season. Darrell Griffith and Karl Malone each had four such games as rookies.
17. Miami Heat
2017-18 record: 31-29
The Grizzlies were just what the doctor ordered for Miami. Heading into Saturday night, the Heat had lost three straight and eight of their last nine. However, they got a healthy confidence boost by beating Memphis 115-89. Miami's two largest margins of victory this season (and only two 20-point wins) have both come against Memphis.
18. LA Clippers
2017-18 record: 31-27
The Clippers announced over the weekend that Avery Bradley (groin) would be sidelined for an additional 1-3 weeks. Coach Doc Rivers also said that Bradley might need offseason surgery. It’s a been a brutally disappointing season for Bradley, who will be an unrestricted free agent this July.
19. Detroit Pistons
2017-18 record: 28-31
The Pistons fell to the Hornets at home on Sunday. It was their fifth loss in their last six games. Detroit is currently 2.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Miami Heat, and 4.5 games behind the Sixers, who sit in seventh. With only 23 games left this season, the Pistons can’t afford another extended losing streak.
20. Charlotte Hornets
2017-18 record: 27-33
Before the All-Star break, it appeared the Hornets season was circling the drain. However, they have won four games in a row, giving fans in Charlotte a glimmer of hope. The Hornets host the Bulls on Tuesday, but then embark on a tough three-game road trip to Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto.
21. Los Angeles Lakers
2017-18 record: 25-34
After being sidelined for nearly six weeks, Lonzo Ball made his long-awaited return to the Lakers lineup on Friday night, tallying 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 17 minutes off the bench. Ball sat out the back end of L.A.’s back-to-back on Saturday, but coach Luke Walton said that was primarily a precaution and that Lonzo’s knee responded well to his first game back.
22. New York Knicks
2017-18 record: 24-37
Over the Knicks last two games, Trey Burke has scored a combined 52 points and dished out 14 dimes. According to Basketball-Reference, he’s the first Knicks guard with at least 26 points and six assists in consecutive games since Nate Robinson in 2009. The last New York starting point guard with 26 and six in two straight games was Stephon Marbury, back in 2006.
23. Chicago Bulls
2017-18 record: 20-39
Has Lauri Markkanen finally run into the rookie wall. He’s shot 1-of-8 from the floor in each of Chicago’s two games last week, and has missed all seven of his 3-point attempts. It would be understandable if he is feeling a bit drained. He’s 53 games into his first NBA season, coming off a demanding EuroBasket tournament this past summer; and he also welcomed his first child into the world in late January.
24. Brooklyn Nets
2017-18 record: 19-41
The struggling Nets will get some reinforcements this week, as both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Caris LeVert (knee) will be available to play on Monday vs. the Bulls. Jahlil Okafor (illness) is questionable for Monday's contest, but he has fallen out of the rotation anyway.
25. Orlando Magic
2017-18 record: 18-41
Orlando has lost five straight games. Yet, incredibly, they haven’t been able to pick up ground in the remarkable race to secure the NBA’s worst record. The bottom eight teams in the league (Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando, Sacramento, Memphis, Brooklyn and Chicago) have all lost at least three straight games. That's a combined 44 consecutive losses.
26. Atlanta Hawks
2017-18 record: 18-42
The Hawks have lost five of six, and are doing their best to compete with the other clubs racing towards the bottom of the standings. Dennis Schroder, Ersan Ilyasova, and Kent Bazemore were all rested in Atlanta’s final game before the All-Star break.
27. Sacramento Kings
2017-18 record: 18-41
The Kings have lost five of their last six games and eight of their last nine home games. However, despite falling to the Lakers on Saturday, Sacramento's young guns flashed their considerable upside. Willie Cauley-Stein registered 18 points, 15 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 21 and added six boards, four assists and four 3-pointers. Buddy Hield had 21 points, eight rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes off the bench.
28. Dallas Mavericks
2017-18 record: 18-42
The Mavs are just 4-14 over their last 18 games. Still, J.J. Barea has quietly been racking up plenty of assists this month. Over Dallas’ previous seven games, Barea is averaging 8.8 assists to go along with 12.7 points.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
2017-18 record: 18-40
Memphis has lost nine straight games, which is tied with the Suns for the longest active losing streak in the NBA. The Grizzlies are 0-9 on the road against Eastern Conference opponents this season, and they are unlikely to notch their first such win on Monday night when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics.
30. Phoenix Suns
2017-18 record: 18-43
The Suns had lost eight straight heading into Saturday, but it seemed inevitable that streak was about to be snapped, as Phoenix led Portland by 15 points with just seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Then, Damian Lillard took over, scoring 19 points in the final stanza. Still, the Suns had the lead and the ball with 20 seconds remaining, but Phoenix got called for a five-second violation before they could inbound. Lillard then scored the game-winner with less than a second left on a driving layup.