Our weekly NBA rankings, where we have a new number one, but I kind of think the second ranked team would win a seven-game series between the two.
1. Mavericks (43-21) Eleven wins in a row. Next year when some talking head says deadline trades really don’t do much for a team, remember this. However, of the 11 wins, only two are by 10 points or more. They are squeaking by more than dominating.
2. Magic (44-20) They are 7-1 in their last eight with wins over the Cavaliers and the Lakers. They are coming together at the right time, and right now they may well be the best team in the East.
3. Cavaliers (49-15) LeBron is banged up but getting rest. Big Z will be back in a few weeks. For Cleveland, it’s about being right going into April, so while a loss to Milwaukee here and there might slide you down these rankings, that’s no big deal.
4. Lakers (46-18) Three losses in a row... Mark Cuban just petitioned David Stern to start the playoffs tomorrow.
5. Nuggets (42-21) With a slowed Birdman and possibly no K-Mart, Denver is about to workout Brian Cook. There is no bigger sign of desperation.
6. Hawks (40-22) In a little stretch playing teams they should beat, and they are (save Miami, but that was the dreaded second night of a back-to-back, so they are forgiven).
7. Jazz (40-22) I find this team oddly entertaining to watch, mostly because I like teams that just execute cleanly. That and I like to watch Deron Williams.
8. Spurs (36-24) They have won four in a row, and were doing their best Freddie Krueger “this team will not die” imitation, but with Tony Parker now out expect them to fall in the coming weeks.
9. Thunder (38-24) Saw them up close and in person for the first time this season this week, and they are more long and explosive live than on television. OKC has become one of my must-see teams when they come to town.
10. Suns (40-25) They can do a little more damage in the playoffs than people think, if the duct tape and superglue that is holding Steve Nash’s body together continues to work.
11. Celtics (40-21) Ray Allen seems to have found his shot again -- in the last 10 Celtics games, he is hitting 44% from three. He was the key to the comeback win over Washington. If he’s hot Boston is a lot better, but does anyone expect him to sustain it?
12. Bucks (33-29) A win against Cleveland is a win against Cleveland, I don’t care who was missing from their roster... oh, it was LeBron. Well, that’s different.
13. Heat (32-31) Lost three in a row, now have won three in a row including beating the Lakers. Here’s the thing about these rankings -- in the NBA teams 12 through about 21 are not that different, it’s just who is hot that week. This week the Heat are hot.
14. Blazers (37-28) This season may not have turned out the way Blazers fans had hoped going in, but this is still a team to fear in three years. Just not this year.
15. Bobcats (30-31) Teams that play good defense are supposed to be consistent. Not sure what is going on here.
16. Grizzlies (32-31) This team needs another road trip -- they are undefeated in the last eight on the road. But have dropped six in a row at home.
17. Raptors (32-29) Chris Bosh returns and the Raptors put up one of their worst stinkers of the year at home, falling to the Sixers. Explain that, would ya?
18. Hornets (31-32) I like Darren Collison as much as the next guy, but the Hornets are 10-15 without CP3 in the lineup, 21-17 with him.
19. Rockets (31-31) Landry who? Don’t remember the guy, not with Scola scoring 21 and grabbing 18 boards a game the last three.
20. Bulls (31-31) Without Joakim Noah, the Bulls are getting killed in the paint. And losing games.
21. Kings (21-42) Of the teams in the bottom half of this grid, I would rather watch the Kings play more than anyone. That is because of Tyreke.
22. Sixers (23-39) The win in Toronto is a reminder this team has the athletes, if the other team will help out by just turning the ball over a lot.
23. Wizards (21-39) That loss in Boston, up 13 with six minutes to go, was just painful.
24. Clippers (25-38) They had a win against Utah last week. That proved to be a fluke outing for both sides.
25 Pistons (22-41) Our thoughts are with Rodney Stuckey. Don’t come back until you are ready and healthy.
26. Pacers (20-43) If you are going to be a running team, it helps to have good ball handlers.
27. Knicks (21-41) The only people happy with the Knicks recent play are in Utah -- they have the Knicks first round pick this draft.
28. Warriors (17-44) If Don Nelson just didn’t show up for a game, would anyone notice?
29. Timberwolves (14-49) Kevin Love coming off the bench is a good idea, not that you can tell in the team results.
30. Nets (7-55) They head out on the road -- where they have won three in a row. Don’t expect that trend to continue.