By Jason Jones | email@example.com
(Records through Friday)
1. Golden State Warriors (45-11, last week 1):
Took a beating in Cleveland, which has been the hottest team in the league.
2. Atlanta Hawks (46-12, LW 3):
While the Cavs get all the attention, the Hawks continue to lead the conference comfortably.
3. Memphis Grizzlies (41-16, LW 2):
The bench will benefit when Vince Carter returns to the lineup from injury.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-23, LW 5):
Did it really take LeBron James’ dominance of the Warriors for him to be mentioned as an MVP candidate?
5. Houston Rockets (40-18, LW 7):
After a shaky stretch, the Rockets have won their last four games.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (38-19, LW 9):
Team just might be deep enough to contend for the title, though they won’t be considered a favorite.
7. Los Angeles Clippers (38-21, LW 6):
Reportedly worked hard to land Kendrick Perkins, who signed with the Cavs.
8. Dallas Mavericks (39-21, LW 8):
Rajon Rondo’s one-game suspension is leading to speculation of bigger problems and that he won’t re-sign with Dallas in the offseason.
.Toronto Raptors (37-21, LW 4):
Dropped their last four games, including a humiliating home loss to Golden State.
10. Chicago Bulls (37-22, LW 11):
If Derrick Rose returns from his knee injury for the playoffs, the Bulls have a good chance to win the East.
11. San Antonio Spurs (35-23 LW 10):
Do the Spurs have a “flip the switch” stretch of games in them, or are they destined to lose in the first round of the playoffs?
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (32-27, LW 12):
Russell Westbrook has played like an MVP, but a face injury will force him to sit out at least one game.
13. Milwaukee Bucks (32-26, LW 13):
If the Bucks reach 45 wins, they will have tripled last season’s total.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (31-27, LW 16):
Injury news hasn’t been good lately, but the Pelicans have won their last four.
15. Phoenix Suns (31-28, LW 15):
Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris are the marquee players as Brandon Knight adjusts to a new team.
16. Washington Wizards (33-26, LW 14):
Losers of six straight as the tailspin from before the All-Star break continues.
17. Indiana Pacers (24-34, LW 19):
The Pacers could be dangerous in the first round of the playoffs if Paul George can return from injury and make an impact.
18. Miami Heat (25-32, LW 18):
Dwyane Wade will have to carry the offense even more to make sure the Heat can reach the postseason.
19. Boston Celtics (23-33, LW 21):
Isaiah Thomas has helped Boston win three in a row and keep pressure on Indiana and Miami for the last playoff spot in the East.
20. Charlotte Hornets (23-33, LW 17):
Consistency will be a problem as long as Kemba Walker is out with a knee injury.
21. Brooklyn Nets (23-33, LW 22):
A 10-15 home record for a team with such a big payroll is disappointing.
22. Detroit Pistons (23-35, LW 20):
Still in the mix near the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
23. Utah Jazz (22-35, LW 23):
The Jazz is allowing Dante Exum to make rookie mistakes, hoping he’ll be ready for a bigger role next season.
24. Kings (20-36, LW 25):
Ray McCallum is finishing out the season as a starter because of Darren Collison’s injury.
25. Orlando Magic (19-41, LW 26):
Rumors had the Magic trying to trade at least one of their young forwards, but the roster remained intact.
26. Denver Nuggets (20-38, LW 24):
Slumping Nuggets have lost their last five as coach Brian Shaw tries to find answers.
27. Los Angeles Lakers (16-41, LW 29):
Went from losing seven straight to a three-game winning streak.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves (13-44, LW 27):
Ricky Rubio must develop chemistry with his teammates to build toward next season.
29. Philadelphia 76ers (13-45, LW 30):
To the surprise of some, the Sixers didn’t buy out JaVale McGee.
.New York Knicks (11-46, LW 28):
Andrea Bargnani is finally healthy enough to play, but the Knicks still struggle most nights.