With the All-Star break over and the Trade deadline just a week away, things are starting to heat up in the NBA as the contenders emerge and the pretenders fall away. With a third of the season remaining before the playoffs, here are the top five teams in the league as of right now.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (22-14, 3rd in Western Conference)
The Los Angeles Clippers were the early rage of the NBA this season. With the acquisition of Chris Paul and Chauncy Billups, this team skyrocketed in the eyes of everyone who follows the league. Recently, however, they have tapered off and the main reason for that is the season ending injury to Chauncey Billups. The loss of Billups has momentarily sucked the wind out of the Clippers sails but with the duo of Paul and Griffin, this team is still a tough out for anyone.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (30-8, 1st in Western Conference)
The Thunder are the future of the Western Conference and the NBA as a whole. With both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant signed for a few years, the team has a nucleus that could keep them at the top for quite a while. The only knock on them, though, is their greatest strength, their youth. This team has yet to show the maturity needed to be a true top team and the blame of that rests more on Westbrook than anyone. Westbrook needs to look for more quality shots instead of quantity and hone his team play. If he can do that, this team would be unstoppable.
3. Miami Heat (29-9, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Like last year, the Heat have more than enough talent to get the job done. There would be no surprise from anyone if this team was again to represent the East in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for them, they still are lacking in that one crucial area that is needed to be a champion, chemistry. This team, for all it's talent, looks to me like a bunch of individuals as opposed to a true team. If they can't find some way to band together, any of the four other teams on this list will beat them when it matters most.
2. San Antonio Spurs (25-12, 2nd in Western Conference)
The Spurs are the most under appreciated teams in any sport. All they do is win, plain and simple, and they do it using proven veterans who know each other like the back of their hand and know what it takes to win. Do they have the ups that Miami, Chicago and Oklahoma City have? No. But the one thing they do have that is unparallelled is teamwork, trust, and the discipline to get it done in the tightest of situations. That's why I have them ahead of the Thunder.
1. Chicago Bulls (32-8, 1st in Eastern Conference)
The Bulls are a complete team. They bring everything you want a championship contender to bring to the table plus some. They are young, talented, deep, and they trust each other when it matters most. Like the Spurs and unlike the Heat, this squad knows who they are and it's only a matter of imposing their will upon you for four quarters to secure a win. This team, in a best of 7, will be nearly impossible to stop.
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