Atlanta’s beautiful brand of basketball continues to notch them wins and gain them a following. Included in that following are the league’s other 29 teams who aren’t touching them any closer than they were last week.
1. Atlanta Hawks – There’s just no stopping them. They’ve won in a variety of ways, beat their top competitors in the Eastern Conference, beat the streaking Pistons, and beat three of the top guns out West.
2. Golden State Warriors – There’s something to be said about the Hawks. The Warriors pounded the Rockets, won nine out of 10, and have the league’s best record, yet, they still rank silver.
3. Houston Rockets – Portland has a better record but Houston has the league’s co-MVP in James Harden who has been in deity mode.
4. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs have to thank a lackluster stretch from other top Western teams for this positioning as they’re shooting horrendously, especially from the arc. Oh yeah, and they’re 1-8 against top Western foes.
5. Memphis Grizzlies – 10-3 against the West’s best. And they’ve recently gotten a Jeff Green sized boost in offense.
6. Portland Trailblazers – Nicolas Batum isn’t helping matters in Portland, who, despite a rosy record, are looking rather exposed.
7. San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard has checked in. That spells trouble for anyone not named the Spurs.
8. Los Angeles Clippers – Their offense remains a bright spot. That is all.
9. Washington Wizards – They’re amassing better pedigree wins. They just have a Western connection of mountains to ascend.
10. Phoenix Suns – The Suns’ starting five are killing it on defense. And their ranking shows.
11. Toronto Raptors – How the East Was Once: good. Now? Only Atlanta stands at the top.
12. Chicago Bulls – The Bulls can chalk up their woes to injuries but also to some uncharacteristic (at least for the last years) crummy defense. They’re dropping like Derrick Rose floaters.
13. Milwaukee Bucks – They keep losing able bodies – some to drug suspensions, others to injuries. But the Bucks don’t lose a step. They now creep behind Cleveland for fifth out East.
14. Oklahoma City Thunder – 254 points scored in two games – if you had forgotten how good this team can be.
15. Detroit Pistons – Detroit continues to be in in the house.
16. Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets are boasting the second-best D this month which explains the not-so-gradual improvements. Is this a playoff team, after all?
18. Denver Nuggets – They continue to be a good team. But “good” gets you nowhere in an unfairly stacked conference.
19. Miami Heat – A 25th-ranked offense never looks pretty. Even on the beaches of Miami.
20. New Orleans Pelicans – When you can’t beat an offense-negligent Philly team, you deserve to miss the playoffs.
21. Utah Jazz – The Jazz offense = Gordon Hayward. Never a stellar thing for multiple reasons.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Someway, the Nets, despite losing eight times in their last 10 are still a playoff team. At 22nd overall, they would see the postseason right now.
23. Sacramento Kings – Nothing is going the Kings’ way as of late. To make matters worse: they take on Golden State this week.
24. Orlando Magic – The Magic are able to get quality wins. Problem is: they come too seldom to get them anywhere in the upper standings.
25. Boston Celtics – The Celtics are collecting assets but are soon to collect plenty of L’s as they hit the hardest stretch of their season.
26. Indiana Pacers – Point guards have been killing the Pacers. One of which plays for the Detroit Boys.
27. Philadelphia 76ers – The 76ers seem to not understand how offense factors into the game of basketball.
28. Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe and Swaggy P love to shoot, ‘cept they’ve been doing it at a combined 29 percent in their last eight games. Not a typo, people.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves –After scoring 31 points, Wiggins has come into his own as the real deal. But just as real are the Wolves losing ways, which puts them near the very bottom.
30. New York Knicks –Extra! Extra! The Knicks, yes, the 2014-15 Knicks won a game! They now have six for the year.