5. Boston Celtics (1): As good as they have been this season, trading Kendrick Perkins was a bad move. Why do you think Kevin Garnett was crying all day Thursday? I can tell you one thing: They weren’t tears of joy because he was so excited to have another undersized partner, who likes to launch 3-pointers and play defense sparingly. With Perkins, Boston had a huge shot at the title. Without him, they fall to easy prey for the Lakers’ big men.
4. Los Angeles Lakers (10): Hopefully I’m not speaking too soon, but FINALLY. I have been waiting for them to turn it around, and the Purple and Gold decided that their post-All-Star break schedule was the right time to do so. They are 4-0 since then, and after standing pat at the trade deadline (great decision, Mitch), they are looking extremely cohesive and ready to roll over anyone who gets in their way. We’ve been wondering when they were going to do it, and get their act together for about the entire season; we just didn’t know when. Well everyone, the time has come.
3. Dallas Mavericks (5): I’m still baffled by the fact that the reason Dallas did not make any big moves at the trading deadline was because they were unwilling to give up Roddy Beaubois in a deal – even if it swung them Carmelo Anthony. Beaubois better be really good, because refusing to trade an unproven, young guard, who is coming off of a bad injury for one of the best players in the league is kind of insane.
2. Chicago Bulls (4): Now that Boston has traded Perkins, Chicago is the team to beat in the East. Record-wise, they still sit behind Boston and Miami, but at the end of the day, what you do in the playoffs is all that matters. Derrick Rose is the favorite for MVP, and with Joakim Noah back in the lineup and crashing boards with Carlos Boozer, the Bulls are going to be a difficult team to defeat.
1. San Antonio Spurs (2): They are on the verge of becoming the league’s first 50-win team this season, and rightfully so. Manu Ginobili has been the catalyst for the Spurs this season, and when Duncan ups his minutes to 34-35 per game in the playoffs, that might just be enough to send this team back to the finals though. They obviously couldn’t make it through the whole season without an injury though, as Tony Parker might miss a few games due to a left calf contusion he suffered last night against Memphis.