11. Brooklyn Nets (13)
The Nets took care of business in their sole game this week. Deron Williams, who sat out the past few games, is ready for action. The verdict is still out on whether this is a good or bad thing. In the mean time, Brook Lopez is still having a better season than your favourite team’s starting center. For them to make a real push in the playoffs though, he’s going to need some help.
12. Utah Jazz (14)
The Jazz, obviously feeling the urgency, stepped it up this week. They won two straight, including an impressive victory over the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. One week closer to solidifying a playoff spot, the Jazz ended the first half of their season on a high note.
13. Chicago Bulls (12)
The Bulls had just one game this week, losing to the Celtics in a heated defensive effort. It was a loss they could live with though. A one week break might – literally – be just what the doctor ordered for this hobbled squad. By the way, Derrick Rose might not return to action this season… so that’s pretty cool.
14. Golden State Warriors (10)
The Warriors are living, dribbling truth that all good things come to an end. After winning four straight, they’ve now lost five. Not to mention, Andrew Bogut has been a little wordy about the teams defensive effort. Regardless, this team remains a group no team wants to face the first round.
15. Los Angeles Lakers (16)
Their record may not show it, but the Lakers are right in the middle of the pack. This isn’t exactly where anyone expected them to be this season, but here we are. Kobe Bryant played his best defense of the year in an exhibition game. I think that just about sums it up.
16. Atlanta Hawks (15)
Josh Smith has been killing it, and understandably so. Not only has he been averaging 21/10 with shootings splits of 54/65/52 (the highest being the three-point percent, go figure), he’s also been atop of the trade deadline fodder. The Hawks easily handled their division rival, Orlando this week. If the team wasn’t getting split up, either now or in a couple of months, this would be a great place to be coming out of the break.
17. Dallas Mavericks (18)
We can rest assured that no one on the Mavericks will be shaving any time soon, but they’re taking a few steps in the right direction, including a convincing win against the not-so-great Kings. All in all, they look like a below average team should.
18. Portland Trail Blazers (17)
Portland is in no-mans-land right now. They’re apparently making a playoff push, but they’ve lost five games in a row. Scratch that, they’re getting ready to tank. They’ve got some ground to make up for though, since if they draw a lottery pick that isn’t in the top-12, they’ve got to give it up to Charlotte.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (20)
Ah, the Bucks. The tantalizing face of NBA mediocrity. The Bucks did manage to pull out a victory against the 76ers this week, but it might be considered a moral loss when you consider the fact that Philly was giving Royal Ivey actual NBA minutes. This team will probably make the playoffs, and have the honour of LeBron James’ feasting upon them with delight for four or five games.
20. Philadelphia 76ers (19)
ANDREW BYNUM’S RETURN…. LOADING 80%… 90%… HARDDRIVE ERROR, PLEASE RESTART. Seriously, that is all.