1. L.A. Lakers – Still the most complete team in the NBA. If Andrew Bynum manages to return by playoff time, I don’t think anyone will beat the Lakers.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – Best record in the NBA and closing in on home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Mo Williams was without doubt the best free agent signing in the NBA in the offseason. Still get stagnant offensively at times, but I like the Cavs to win the East.
3. Utah Jazz – I’ve watched the Jazz a lot this season at I’m really impressed. Deron Williams is playing at an MVP level and Ronnie Brewer has really improved.
4. Orlando Magic – The Magic get the nod in a close call – but ultimately I can’t see it coming out of the East. Stan Van Gundy deserves to be coach of the year, regardless of what Shaq may say on Twitter.
5. Boston Celtics – Still hanging on in the top five – barely. KG is back and looks okay, but I’m not counting on him to be close to 100 percent this season. The Celtics play great defense, but appear vulnerable.
6. San Antonio Spurs – Last night’s thrilling win earns the Spurs the sixth spot in this week’s power-rankings – not so much. The Spurs are old as hell, but still dangerous. Where’s Manu?
7. Denver Nuggets – I’m still waiting for the Nuggs to run on all cylinders, but the talent is certainly there. Denver is an interesting team and could make a run in the West – or lose in the first round.
8. Houston Rockets – A huge surprise, but I don’t expect the Rockets to keep rolling. Ron Artest and Aaron Brooks have been ballin’ lately.
9. New Orleans Hornets – Chris Paul. Not much else, but CP3 has the ability to carry the Hornets in the West.
10. Portland Trail Blazers – Very talented and very young. Portland is still probably one star away from being a legitimate threat to make a deep playoff run.
11. Atlanta Hawks – I can see the Hawks pulling an upset in the East, but the loss of Marvin Williams really hurts an already thin lineup. Coach Mike Woodson has done a good job holding things together, even though Josh Smith hates him.
12. Miami Heat – LeBron seemed to have MVP secured around mid-January, but D-Wade has been amazing during the last two months. Take him away, and the Heat suck. But with him, I can see Miami pushing any potential opponent in the playoffs.
13. Dallas Mavericks – The Mavs make its customary appearance in the TTT power rankings, but as I always say, Dallas isn’t going anywhere. Josh Howard may return to action soon, but don’t count on it.
14. Philadelphia 76ers – Quietly having a good season, and Louis Williams is quietly improving. It may not be saying much, but the Sixers are one of the better teams in the East.
15. Chicago Bulls – An easy schedule has EVD and I (okay, maybe just me) hopeful of a Bulls appearance in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. With the NBA Draft looking like a piece of garbage aside from the top five, a playoff appearance might be best for the Bulls.