1. Boston Celtics (25-2) (1)
With home games against the Knicks and Sixers (who have losing records) the winning streak could hit 19 by their Christmas day showdown with the Lakers
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (22-4) (2)
The Cavs' blowout win in Denver is a real statement and a testament to the team's improvement. When LeBron left the game in the second quarter, the Cavs built the lead to 20 and effectively put the game out of reach.
3. Los Angeles Lakers (21-4) (3)
Not playing at an elite level after struggling at home to beat the Knicks and losing on the road to the Heat, LA must turn up the defense as the schedule gets a lot tougher with road games against the Magic and Hornets and a road game against the Celtics.
4. Orlando Magic (20-6) (4)
Winning in Utah without Howard?? I'm becoming more and more convinced that last year was no fluke and the start of a period of domination in the Southeast Division.
5. New Orleans Hornets (15-7) (7)
Protect the ball at all times around Chris Paul. His consecutive-games-with-a-steal streak hit 106 against San Antonio, setting an all-time record.
6. Houston Rockets (17-9) (8)
With Battier and TMac finally healthy, Adelman is experimenting with his lineup by bringing Artest off the bench. So far, the results have been excellent.
7. Utah Jazz (17-11) (11)
If Boozer wants a bigger contract, this is not the way to go about doing it. Don't say you're "opting out" when you're hurt and your backup is outplaying you.
8. Denver Nuggets (17-9) (5)
Remember when Carmelo's teams used to beat LeBron's? Those days are a distant memory, as LeBron's Cavs have improved to the point where their talent dwarfs that of Denver's and LeBron has evolved into a full-blown superstar and phenominal two-way player while Carmelo is still a decent jump shooter who doesn't rebound or play defense.
9. Portland Trail Blazers (17-10) (6)
Roy just keeps getting better and better as he was unstoppable in an amazing 52-point effort against Phoenix.
10. San Antonio Spurs (15-10) (9)
The offense of the Spurs is still too inconsistent to get it done in close defensive struggles, as they lack a pure shooter to win games in the 4th quarter.
11. Atlanta Hawks (16-10) (14)
It would have been a perfect week if not for an emotionally draining loss at home to the Celtics, with whom the Hawks are trying to establish a strong rivalry.
12. Detroit Pistons (14-10) (16)
The Pistons need Maxiell to make more of an impact if they want to compete in the Eastern Conference.
13. Phoenix Suns (15-11) (15)
The Suns' defense is still bad with the coaching change, but the rebounding has also gotten worse.
14. Miami Heat (13-12) (12)
After stumbling back to .500, Wade kept the team afloat by pouring in 35 against the Lakers, including two key blocks in the last 10 seconds to help preserve a 2-point win.
15. New Jersey Nets (13-12) (13)
Harris removes any doubt that the Mavs thoroughlly got ripped off in the Jason Kidd trade with 41 huge points against his ex-team.
16. Dallas Mavericks (14-11) (10)
Cuban's insider trading methods apparently didn't work when he made the panic trade for Jason Kidd.
17. Philadelphia 76ers (12-14) (20)
Lost in the disappointing season has been the impressive play of Mareese Spreights, who's certainly proving to be worth the first round investment.
18. Chicago Bulls (12-14) (17)
It looks like Deng is rounding back into form after a slow start to the season.
19. Milwaukee Bucks (12-16) (21)
While his scoring has dropped since November, there is no doubt Luc Richard Mbah ah Moute is proving to be a pain in the ass to play against.
20. New York Knicks (11-15) (18)
Nasty Nate! Nobody on the court plays with a bigger heart than the little guy, he is the one guy who works hard on every possession and is flourishing under D'Antoni.
21. Toronto Raptors (10-16) (19)
I'm not sure being a one-man team with a last place record is quite what Colangelo had in mind when he assembled this roster, but the Raptors' big performers from last year need to step it up or this rebuilding effort will be all for naught.
22. Los Angeles Clippers (8-18) (28)
The Clips have picked it up this week with four wins in their previous five games, including back-to-back stunners against Portland and Houston.
23. Indiana Pacers (9-17) (22)
Now injuries create another obstacle in what's beginning to look like a lost season for the Pacers.
24. Charlotte Bobcats (9-18) (25)
Augustin got his revenge against Derrick Rose after being shut down and humiliated in the Elite Eight by outscoring him 29-6 in an overtime win over Chicago.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (9-17) (23)
With Mayo also handling Rose, he's making a stronger and stronger case for Rookie of the Year as the two will continue to provide a handful of spectacular plays this season.
26. Sacramento Kings (7-20) (26)
When two of your top three scorers have missed more than half the teams' games, it's little wonder why you can't win consistently.
27. Golden State Warriors (7-20) (24)
The defense was bad, we knew this going into the season, but the Warriors' offense has gotten worse and worse as Crawford adds nothing to the team outside of being yet another one-on-one player with horrible shot selection.
28. Washington Wizards (4-20) (27)
One loss away from tying a franchise record for the worst start in franchise history, so imagine how much worse they'd be without Jamison and Butler.
29. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-21) (29)
Just think, if they kept Mayo, they'd at least be as good as Memphis is right now.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (3-24) (30)
Westbrook, who's finally earning a starting spot, has been one of the Thunder's few bright spots and the unsung PG outside of Rose and Mayo in what is proving to be a potent PG draft.
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