5. Chicago Bulls (5): The Bulls are for real. And until people start to realize this, I’m going to keep saying it. They might not have the star power of Miami or the playoff experience of Boston – instead, they have the best point guard in the NBA in Derrick Rose (among other things), and they will not only be a challenging opponent in the postseason, but a contender for the championship as well.
4. Dallas Mavericks (9): The Mavs struggled mightily throughout January – starting the month off 24-7 and finishing it 32-15; however, they didn’t let an 8-8 month get them down, and they have now one eight straight, including a win over Boston – IN BOSTON – on Friday night. If the Lakers were worried about not getting the first seed, they better start worrying about not getting the second seed, because Dallas is playing really tough basketball right now.
3. Boston Celtics (2): They are going to beat you up; they are going to knock down their open shots, and they are going to frustrate the hell out of you – that’s what Boston does. They are sending four players to the All-Star game (and rightfully so), and despite their old age and battered bodies, they look stronger and tougher than ever. Watch out league.
2. Miami Heat (3): Even with injuries and no depth whatsoever to supplement their losses, the Heat keep winning. LeBron and Wade are easily the most unstoppable one-two-punch since Jordan and Pippen. Yes, they don’t have the six rings yet (or one ring for that matter), but they are nearly impossible to shut down at the same time. Even with Wade putting up 25 points a night, LeBron still owns this league – which was evident in his 51-point, 11-rebound and eight-assist effort against Orlando on Thursday. Now that was an inhuman performance.
1. San Antonio Spurs (1): There’s not much more to say about the Spurs other than the fact that they get the job done. Tim Duncan is playing a career-low in minutes, yet the Spurs still find ways to come out victorious on a regular basis. With only eight L’s in the loss column, they still have a shot at the Bulls 72-10 record, but I don’t see Poppovich letting this team tire out so they can break that record. Poppovich plays for rings and he always has. He is not going to sacrifice the Spurs shot at a title for 70+ wins. They did it in dramatic fashion, but the Spurs win over the Lakers on Thursday was just a testament to how mentally tough this team is.