(1) Chicago Bulls vs (8) Philadelphia 76ers
Despite being without their start point guard for a portion of the year, the Bulls were able to grab the NBA’s number one seed. The Sixers have been up and down all year, but Doug Collins has done a decent job. The inside presence of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer could be too much for Elton Brand and the combination of Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic. The off-season addition of Richard Hamilton could pay big dividends, as his shots off screens could be an issue for the Sixers defense. The Andre Iguodala-Luol Deng match up will be fun to watch, as Deng has quite a bit of range and Iguodala is one of the best defenders in the league. Both teams have sharp shooters in Kyle Korver and Jodie Meeks off their bench, but Thaddeus Young could be the x-factor for the Sixers.
Bulls in 6
1. Miami Heat 25-7- Recently had a back to back to back and went 3-0, winning each game by double digits.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 25-7- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook became the first duo of teammates to score 40 points in a game since MJ and Pippen in 1996.
3. San Antonio Spurs 22-9- 10 game winning streak for the old team that won’t win a championship according to the experts.
4. Chicago Bulls 26-8- Derrick Rose finally returns and they dominate the Atlanta Hawks.
10. Memphis Grizzlies 18-15- Have won 6 out of 8 with Philadelphia and Dallas coming up on a short home stand.
11. Los Angeles Lakers 18-13-Brutal stretch with Dallas, Oklahoma City and Minnesota coming up.
12. Atlanta Hawks 19-13- A brutal stretch against Miami, LA, Phoenix, Portland and Chicago has gone 1-4 so far. Knicks and Magic still left on tap before Golden State to end the month.
13.Indiana Pacers 19-12- Wins against New Jersey and Charlotte come after losing five in a row.
14. Portland Trail Blazers 17-15- It’s been an up and down month for Portland. Wins over Denver and Atlanta are nullified by losses to Washington and Sacramento.
15. Denver Nuggets 17-15- Were apart of history Sunday…not in a good way. The Nuggets were the first team to give up a 50 point, 40 point, and triple-double to a trio of teammates in NBA history in their loss to the Thunder.
16. Minnesota TWolves 16-16- Rubio and Love are making it fun to be Timberwolves fan again.
17. New York Knicks 16-17-
18. Utah Jazz 15-16- Continue to fall back to Earth with only three wins this month.
19. Boston Celtics 15-16- Just when you thought they figured it out, a 4 game losing streak including two losses to the Pistons makes you wonder.
20. Cleveland Cavs 12-17- Kyrie continues to marvel, averaging 18 points, 5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game.
21. Phoenix Suns 13-19- Steve Nash’s assists in his last four games, 16,17,14,11.
22. Milwaukee Bucks 13-19- Brandon Jennings doesn’t want to be there and that’s not good news for Bucks fans.
23. Golden State Warriors 11-17- At least the Run TMC bobbleheads will keep fans interested for a little while.
24.Detroit Pistons 11-22- Have had a really good month, going 7-3, including two wins over Boston.
25. Sacramento Kings 10-21- Since that impressive win over OKC on National TV, the Kings have lost 5 straight including losses to Detroit and Cleveland.
26. New Jersey Nets 10-24- At least Brook Lopez is back….
27. Toronto Raptors 9-23- Jose Calderon is in the top 5 in assists…and that’s about all I got.
28. New Orleans Hornets 7-24- Have actually won three out of four.
29. Washington Wizards 7-25- A lost cause….
30. Charlotte Bobcats 4-27- Could go down as one of the worst in NBA history.
1. Chicago (21-6) – Derrick Rose is making quite an effort to win back to back MVP awards.
2. Oklahoma City (20-5) – The one-two punch of Durant and Westbrook is so exciting to watch and tough to stop.
3. Miami (19-6) – Since getting Dwayne Wade back, this team is on a tear.
4. San Antonio (17-9) – Even though this team is getting older and has lost Manu Ginobili, they keep churning out the wins.
5. LA Clippers (15-7) – They still have a ton of talent but the loss of Chauncey Billups for the year will definitely hurt their depth.
6. Philadelphia (18-7) – They have surprised many with the way they have played against the elite teams in the league.
7. Indiana (17-7) – Four of five starters finished in double figures in a close win over Utah.
8. Atlanta (16-9) – They have lost three in a row as they struggle to find someone to replace Al Horford inside.
9. Boston (14-10) – Paul Pierce passed Larry Bird for 2nd all time on the Celtics scoring list.
10. LA Lakers (14-11) – Kobe Bryant has moved past Shaquille O’Neal for 5th on all time NBA scoring list.
11. Orlando (15-10) – 33 points and 14 rebounds for Dwight Howard vs the Clippers, just another night at the office for the big man.
12. Denver (15-10) – They will struggle without Danilo Gallinari.
13. Dallas (14-11) – They need a guy to step up at point guard while Jason Kidd is out.
14. Portland (14-11) – LaMarcus Aldridge is the best player no one knows about.
15. Houston (14-11) – Kyle Lowery is the front-runner for most improved player.
16. Utah (13-11) – One of the best front courts in the NBA with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
17. Minnesota (13-12) – Kevin Love is the best power forward in the game but should very little class stomping on Luis Scola the other night.
18. Memphis (12-13) – Marc Gasol is becoming an elite center in this league.
19. New York (11-15) – With Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony missing a few weeks of action, Jeremy Lin has scored 53 points in his last two games.
20. Phoenix (11-14) – All five starters finished in double figures in a win over Milwaukee.
21. Milwaukee (10-14) – Drew Gooden is making people forget about Andrew Bogut with 29 points and 7 rebounds in 2 games.
22. Cleveland (9-14) – Kyrie Erving had 20 points and 7 assists in a win against the Mavericks, making him a serious contender for Rookie of the Year.
23. Golden State (8-14) – Monta Ellis dropped 48 in a close loss to the Thunder.
24. Sacramento (9-16) – The inside-outside presence of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins keeps them in games.
25. New Jersey (8-18) – Deron Williams is having another all-star season, but if they cannot get Howard he will walk.
26. Toronto (8-18) – Their offense is not the same without Andrea Bargnani.
27. Detroit (6-20) – Good win over Milwaukee as their rookie point guard Brandon Knight had 26.
28. Washington (5-20) – John Wall is very exciting to watch and JaVale McGee will be a trade piece for contending teams.
29. New Orleans (4-21) – When Emeka Okafor is your go to guy you’re in trouble
30. Charlotte (3-22) – Kemba Walker is about the only bright spot on this team.
1. Miami Heat 16-5- Jump over the Bulls with the win Sunday afternoon. Lebron goes for 22,11, and 8.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder 16-3- 8-2 road record is best in the league.
3. Chicago Bulls 18-5- 1-1 on a 9 game road trip. Trips to Philadelphia and Milwaukee up next.
4. Denver Nuggets 14-6- Number 1 in the league in scoring, not bad for a team without a star.
5. Dallas Mavericks 14-8- Have won 6 out of 7 since losing to both LA Teams.
6. Philadelphia 76ers 15-6- Beat Orlando, but have Chicago, Miami and Atlanta this week.
7. Los Angeles Clippers 11-6- Nice two game winning streak against Memphis and Denver.
8. Indiana Pacers 13-6- Went 2-1 on the three game road trip which included wins over Chicago and Orlando. Derrick Rose was not happy with how the Pacers celebrated beating the Bulls either.
9. Atlanta Hawks 15-6- Jeff Teague had 24 in the win over New Orleans. He’s averaging 13 points and 5 assists as the starter and has seen his field goal and three-point percentage jump to career highs this year.
10. Houston Rockets 12-9- Team lost 5 out of 6 to start the month, won 7 in a row, and then ended the up and down month with a bad loss to Minnesota.
11. San Antonio Spurs 13-9- Would be ranked higher, but blew a 9 point lead with 5:30 to go in Dallas.
12. Los Angeles Lakers 12-9- 2-4 in their last six games against teams with a record over .500.
13. Utah Jazz 12-7- 3-4 against teams with winning records, play two of the next three against the LA teams.
14. Portland Trailblazers 12-9- 5-7 to end the month, but February starts with Charlotte and Sacramento.
15. Orlando Magic 12-9- They’ve looked awful in their four game losing streak. Blew a 27 point lead in Boston, got blown out by the worst team in the Western Conference, lost by 21 in Indiana and then scored 69 points in a loss against Philadelphia.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves 10-11- Finished the month 6-4 including wins over San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and the Clippers.
17. Memphis Grizzles 10-10- Started 3-6, won 7 in a row, and now have lost 4 in a row.
18. Cleveland Cavs 8-11- Kyrie Irving is averaging 17.9 points per game and scored the game winner against Boston.
19. Boston Celtics 9-10- With games against Cleveland, Toronto, New York, and Memphis coming, the Celtics can start to see their way out of the mess they made.
20. Milwaukee Bucks 9-11- Wins over the Heat, Rockets, Lakers give Bucks fans a glimmer of hope.
21. Toronto Raptors 7-14- Have won three out of four, only a half game behind the Knicks.
22. New Jersey Nets 7-14- Williams, Humphries, and Lopez are nice pieces, but it won’t be worth anything if they can’t keep Deron Williams this summer.
23. New York Knicks 7-13- Have lost 9 out of 10 and now whispers are swirling that they are shopping Amare.
24. Phoenix Suns 7-13- Nash is averaging almost a double double, 14.3 points and 9.9 assists.
25. Golden State Warriors 6-12- Friday’s loss to the Thunder (120-101) shows how far away they are.
26. Sacramento Kings 6-14- Dead last in defense. This team is still a mess.
27. Detroit Pistons 4-18- Dead last in offense, rebounds, and 26th in assists per game.
28. New Orleans Hornets 4-17- At least they beat Orlando!
29. Washington Wizards 4-17- They still suck.
30- Charlotte Bobcats 3-18- Lost to the Wizards to give them the new title of the worst team in basketball.