1. Los Angeles Clippers (25-7) – The Clippers 17-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday in Denver. The Clippers are just one of three teams in the history of the NBA to go undefeated in an entire month of play. Coming into this season I didn’t believe the Clippers could compete for a title this year but the way they are playing now has changed my mind.
2. Miami Heat (21-8) – LeBron James is the best basketball player on the planet and it pains me to say that. Any team LeBron is on has a chance to win a title; the Heat have him, not to mention Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-6) – The Thunder traded away the NBA’s 6th Man Award winner and may have got better! I do not believe Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will play together their entire careers but right now they are the third best team in the league with the duo.
4. New York Knicks (21-10) – The Knicks are off to a great start behind Carmelo Anthony; I’m wondering if it will stay that way with the return of Amare Stoudemire. J.R. Smith is finally playing the way NBA scouts thought he could play and if he can sustain that type of play the Knicks will get the 2nd seed in the East.
5. San Antonio Spurs (25-8) – The Spurs have won 6 straight and have the third best record in the NBA. The Spurs window to win a championship is closing and this may be the last real push. If the Spurs have enough gas in the tank come May we will see a Spurs versus Thunder Western Conference final.
6. Golden State Warriors (21-10) – The Warriors have 10 wins at home and 11 on the road. That’s what makes this team good; they can go on the road and play their game. Mark Jackson is proving to be a great coach and has his guys ready night in and night out.
7. Denver Nuggets (18-15) – The Nuggets got a big win Tuesday night over the leagues hottest team in the Clippers but have to be consistent if they want home court advantage in the playoffs. A home heavy January schedule can help the Nuggets immensely in their quest for home court if they are eight to 10 games over .500 at the end of the month.
8. Memphis Grizzlies (19-9) – The Grizzlies started the season as of the best in league and have since fallen back down to earth. Memphis is just 5-5 in their last 10 and are showing how much they need Randolph, Gasol and Gay every single night. When the Grizzlies version of the “big 3” is “on” this team is very good, the problem is they are showing they cannot be that more than a couple times a week.
9. Houston Rockets (17-14) – The Rockets fans were “all in” when James Harden came to town. Harden, paired up with Jeremy Lin, had Houston fans ready for another playoff run. The problem is Harden can’t score 38 every night and Lin isn’t a guy that can take control on offense. The Rockets will compete for a final playoff spot in the Western Conference but are still a piece or two away from being a real contender.
10. Indiana Pacers (18-13) – The Pacers are currently sitting atop of the Central Division. We all know that would not be the case if Derrick Rose were healthy. The Pacers are 10-3 at home but sit at 8-10 on the road and are without their leader in Danny Granger. This team will make the playoffs and can do so as a top-4 seed, but would anyone be shocked if they were bounced in the first round?