1. Golden State Warriors (46-9, 1st in Western Conference)
Kevin Durant drowned out the boos and the heckles from his old Thunder fans with an impressive homecoming performance that featured everything that was expected: harmless shouting between old teammates, Russ going off and the Warriors winning in blowout fashion. The Golden State Warriors continue to be unstoppable on both ends of the floor. Durant is playing the most efficient basketball of his career, Draymond Green notched the first ever triple-double without scoring 10 or more points and Javale Mcgee is actually contributing to a ball club rather than just appearing on Shaqtin’ A Fool on a weekly basis. The Warriors lost to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night and will now prepare for their last game before the All-Star break Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
2. San Antonio Spurs (42-13, 2nd in Western Conference)
The Spurs are being overlooked (again), and that is just how they like it. Only four games behind the Warriors for the top spot in the West, San Antonio once again proves to be a contender despite losing the best power forward in history over the offseason. Coach Gregg Popovich improved his already spectacular resume by claimingtitle of the winningest coach with one franchise. Pau Gasol, a six-time All-Star who has been out of commission with a broken hand, will be back after the All-Star break and should bolster the Spurs’ frontcourt immediately. San Antonio will play the Magic in Orlando before heading off into the break.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers (37-16, 1st in Eastern Conference)
The All-Star break can’t come any sooner for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The much-needed hiatus will allow the Cavs to regroup and mend any nagging injuries of key players. LeBron is still looking for that “playmaker” while all-star Kevin Love is on the shelf for at least six weeks because of a knee surgery. Once a surefire to cruise through the Eastern Conference with ease, Cleveland is facing questions and doubts about its ability to dominate the East, especially with the Celtics and the Wizards on torrid winning streaks. The Cavs will be one of the more aggressive buyers with the trading deadline looming around the corner.
4. Boston Celtics (36-19, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
The Celtics are second in the Eastern Conference and are only two games behind the Cavaliers for first place in the conference. MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas is averaging 10.6 points in the fourth quarter, the 5-foot-9 point guard is on pace to be the best scorer in the fourth quarter in the past 20 years. Kobe Bryant held the previous high with 9.5 points in 2006. The Celtics will have a dilemma waiting for them as the trade deadline is near. Does Boston stand pat and hope that this team can miraculously beat the Cavs in a best-of-seven playoff series? Or does Boston gamble and trade for that game-changer that will take it over the top in the East?
5. Houston Rockets (40-17, 3rd in Western Conference)
The Rockets, led by MVP front-runner James Harden, have the best plus/minus in February, even better than the Warriors and Cavaliers. Mike D’Antoni and his innovative offense continue to rack up wins despite obvious flaws on the defensive end of the floor. The Rockets are unlikely to make a big move before the trade deadline, but with the roster that they have right now, Houston is going to be a tough matchup for any team come playoffs.