5 Teams That Will Challenge NBA's Elite as Season Heats Up

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5 Teams That Will Challenge NBA's Elite as Season Heats Up
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The dividing line between the haves and the have-nots of the NBA is blurring by the day.

The San Antonio Spurs have stumbled through four of their last five outings. The Miami Heat lost to the Washington Wizards in D.C. and have struggled to rebound and defend with any consistency from night to night. The Los Angeles Lakers can hardly be considered elite after a dismal start to the season, though things are looking up with Steve Nash due back soon.

The Oklahoma City Thunder seem to be the only reliable team among the league's preseason upper echelon at the moment. They have strung together wins in their last 11 outings and currently own the best record in the Association at 20-4.

But even the Thunder lack the air of invincibility that has defined some of the greatest teams of all-time—the Chicago Bulls of the '90s, the Los Angeles Lakers of the Showtime and Kobe-Shaq eras, the Bill Russell and then Bird-McHale-Parish-led Boston Celtics and so on. 

Parity, it seems, is the order of the day in the NBA, and these five surprising squads appear best suited to make it so during the 2012-13 season.

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