#2. Indiana Pacers: 39-10
The Pacers played an average January but remain on top of the Eastern Conference playoff race by 4 games over the Heat. Indiana and OKC are in the top 5 in most of the NBA's team performance categories. Indiana is on "Pace" to finish the regular season with home court throughout and should end up playing for an NBA championship this season.
#3. Portland Trailblazers: 36-15
Portland started strong and most thought they would falter mid season. They didn't. Needless to say the Blazers continued to play well. They remain a serious contender for a Western conference run this season with the Thunder the only team standing in their way. If they stay healthy, the 2qnd half of the season should be interesting.
#4. Miami Heat: 35-14
Its difficult to say whether the Heat are bored or losing some of their power. They have played well at times and yet, lost some games where they really seemed to be outplayed. It would be difficult to not let complacency set in after three trips to the finals and 2 consecutive championships. There is a lot of season left and they will be in the playoffs. Time will tell if they are still Champs.
#5. San Antonio Spurs: 37-14
The Spurs come in at #5 despite a better record than Miami or Portland. However, the Spurs are 1-11 against the NBA's top teams. San Antonio may be finally running out of steam. Their record will get them in the playoffs but they won't be playing the bottom feeders once they get in. Look for the Spurs to be one and done in the playoffs. Time to restock in San Antonio, put the old fellas to bed, Pop.
#6: L.A. Clippers: 35-18
The Clippers, like the Thunder, have played very well without their All Star point guard. Chris Paul is due back this week and that makes the #6 Clippers a lot better. The Clippers are on the verge of becoming a legit elite team. A deep run in the playoffs is almost certain. The Clippers aren't afraid of any team and no team wants to draw them as a playoff series opponent.
#7: Houston Rockets: 34-17
Houston is a weird team. Some nights they look unbeatable, other they look like a 17-34 team. I think that the addition of so many components over the last two seasons has hampered their ability to gel. Dwight Howard has adapted to the team well enough but they still do not play as consistently as they will need to in order to advance past the second round of the playoffs.
#8: Phoenix Suns: 30-20
Phoenix has come on strong in 2014 currently occupying the 6th playoff spot in the West and only 6 wins off the top 4. The Suns are playing over preseason expectations and have only lost 3 games since mid January. The playoffs are a real possibility with the Warriors and Nuggets slipping. However, this is not a battle tested team and will be hard pressed to get out of the first round.
#9. Dallas Mavericks: 31-21
Dallas gets back in the top ten after a good start to the new year. The Mavericks have quietly played consistent basketball with Dirk Nowitski and a cast of no name role players. Dallas looks to make a return to the playoffs but won't likely make a run past the first round. Dirk isn't getting any younger and the rest of the team, combined, can't match his experience.
#10. Toronto Raptors: 26-24
There are several more West teams with better records but Toronto is the only other East team that is more than 2 wins over .500. The Raptors will make the playoffs because the East will need 8 teams to round out the field, however they will only provide extra practice for the Pacers and Heat as they prepare to face each other in the conference finals.
Waiting on the Bench: Golden State Warriors (30-21), Memphis Grizzlies (27-22), Atlanta Hawks (25-24), Chicago Bulls (25-25)