(Records and statistics through Friday)
Health is always a major factor in success. The top-2 teams this week have been lucky to not have lost a key player to injury for extended time. That good fortune has kept the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers at or near the top of their respect conferences this season. And as the health of other contenders improves, both teams will have to be aware of the likes of Miami, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers.
• 1. Indiana Pacers (31-7, Last Week 1): Frank Vogel and his staff will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars.
• 2. Portland Trail Blazers (30-9, LW 4): The Blazers have cooled a bit after their hot start, but managed to knock off San Antonio on Friday.
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• 3. San Antonio Spurs (31-9, LW 2): This team might not put a premium on playoff seeding, but still could end up tops in the West.
• 4. Oklahoma City Thunder (30-10, Last week 5): Kevin Durant scored a career-high 54 points in a win over Golden State and will need more big scoring nights with Russell Westbrook injured.
• 5. Miami Heat (28-11, LW 3): Isn’t it too early to talk about the Heat conceding the Eastern Conference’s best record to Indiana?
• 6. Los Angeles Clippers (28-13, LW 6): Winners of five in a row added Hedo Turkoglu to the roster while waiting for Chris Paul to recover from shoulder injury.
• 7. Golden State Warriors (25-16, LW 7): Losers of two in a row and losing ground on Clippers.
• 8. Houston Rockets (25-16, LW 8): Still have to show more mental toughness to be a real title contender.
• 9. Dallas Mavericks (24-17, LW 10): Just when you thought Dirk Nowitzki was done after last season’s injury problems, the Mavs are back among the contenders.
• 10. Phoenix Suns (22-17, LW 9): The biggest surprise of the season will struggle without Eric Bledsoe, but Goran Dragic is doing his part to keep Phoenix winning.
• 11. Toronto Raptors (20-18, LW 12): Athletic guard DeMar DeRozan could find himself on the All-Star team.
• 12. Memphis Grizzlies (20-19, LW 17): A five-game winning streak and Marc Gasol’s return boost hopes.
• 13. Denver Nuggets (20-19, LW 13): If Denver can regain its dominant form at home, it will be a dangerous team as health improves.
• 14. Atlanta Hawks (20-19, LW 11): Kyle Korver’s streak of games with a made three pointer nearly ended, if not for a late three in a blowout loss.
• 15. Washington Wizards (19-19, LW 16): This should be one of the most exciting times to watch in the league and showed why in beating Miami.
• 16. Chicago Bulls (18-20, LW 15): Jimmy Butler will have to fill in for some of the intangibles and defense lost when Luol Deng was traded to Cleveland.
• 17. Brooklyn Nets: (16-22, LW 19): They started as a joke, but the Nets are now one of the hottest teams.
• 18. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-21, LW 14): Ricky Rubio has to play a lot better for Minnesota to have a chance to get above .500.
• 19. Charlotte Bobcats: (17-24, LW 21): Bobcats continue to keep themselves near the top-8 in spite of their struggles on offense.
• 20. Detroit Pistons (16-23, LW 20): Thought to be a possible playoff team, Pistons have been inconsistent.
• 21. Cleveland Cavaliers (15-25, LW 23): There’s still time in the East for Kyrie Irving and Deng to improve the Cavs’ spot in the standings.
• 22. New York Knicks (15-25, LW 22): Losers of three in a row and two reserve big men – Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin – are injured.
• 23. Kings (14-24, LW 25): In the midst of a six-game road trip, the Kings have to show more poise to win away from Sleep Train Arena.
• 24. Los Angeles Lakers (15-25, LW 24): Kendall Marshall has shown he can thrive in Mike D’Antoni’s system, but that means injuries are still an issue.
• 25. New Orleans Pelicans (15-23, LW 18): Losing streak for roster slowed by injuries is up to seven games.
• 26. Utah Jazz (14-27, LW 27): If Trey Burke had been healthy to start the season, the Jazz would be better.
• 27. Philadelphia 76ers (13-26, LW 26): Seems many are waiting for the 76ers to begin unloading veterans.
• 28. Boston Celtics (13-24, LW 28): Rajon Rondo returned from his knee injury Friday against the Lakers, but the Celtics lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
• 29. Orlando Magic (10-30, LW 29): Owners of the current longest losing streak in the NBA at 10 games. .
• 30. Milwaukee Bucks (7-31, LW 30): Another team on a seven-game losing streak and leading in the Andrew Wiggins lottery race.