1. Bucks (37-13) Last week: 2
We've danced it around long enough. It's time to give Milwaukee its due. After an impressive win in Toronto Thursday, the Bucks are now 1 ½ games up on the Raptors. They've also been on a tear in general. This is their spot now.
2. Raptors (36-14) Last week: 1
Toronto was at full strength Thursday and just flat out got beat. They've now lost three of their last four. The Raptors have been so good all season, they were due for a rough patch. They'll bounce back.
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3. Celtics (34-18) Last week: 3
Admittedly, this was a struggle given the Celtics lost to the Warriors at home and the Sixers just beat Golden State in Oakland, but Boston is still playing good basketball. They've also beaten the Sixers twice, but the rematch is less than two weeks away. Then again, the Celtics could have bigger fish to fry.
4. Sixers (34-18) Last week: 4
It was hard leaving the Sixers here off their most impressive win of the season. Sure, Klay Thompson was out, but that takes nothing away from the win. Newly minted All-Star Ben Simmons had arguably his best game as a pro - against an elite team no less. Joel Embiid was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Month. Things are certainly looking up.
5. Nets (28-25) Last week: 6
Brooklyn is missing two of its best players in Caris LeVert (for the season) and Spencer Dinwiddie (reportedly three-to-six weeks), but first-time All-Star D'Angelo Russell is having quite the season. Give Kenny Atkinson and the Nets' front office a lot of credit. They've' gone from a laughingstock to a possible fifth seed.
6. Hornets (24-25) Last week: 7
Still kind of unsure how Charlotte is maintaining this after Kemba Walker's ridiculous scoring rate to start the season has tailed off, but here we are. The man could use some help.
7. Heat (24-25) Last week: 8
They lost to the Bulls. Like, convincingly. That was the deciding factor in putting them behind the Hornets.
8. Pacers (32-19) Last week: 5
Since Victor Oladipo's season-ending injury, the Pacers have lost four straight. The two losses were to the Magic and Wizards. They still have enough depth to earn a playoff spot in the East, but things don't look good.
9. Pistons (22-28) Last week: 9
Blake Griffin is really good. The rest of the Pistons … not so much.
10. Wizards (22-29) Last week: 10
Same thing, but swap Griffin for Bradley Beal. But hey, at least they'll never tank! How noble!
11. Magic (21-31) Last week: 11
Also, adorable how they refuse to tank. It's 2019. The stigma is gone. We don't have to hide anymore.
12. Hawks (16-34) Last week: 12
Atlanta will have to sell off some of their useful players if they want to have chance at Zion Williamson. But their young player might also just be playing a little too well. Quite the conundrum.
13. Bulls (12-40) Last week: 14
They beat the Heat, so that's bad news for them.
14. Cavs (11-41) Last week: 15
Wait … the Cavs have won two in a row?! Man, they're really banking on the lottery being rigged again.
15. Knicks (10-36) Last week: 13
Trading away your best young player is a bold move. It did get the Knicks the cap space for two max deals and left them with a roster bad enough to lose a ton of games. The Knicks have had a lot of luck recently, so I can't imagine this backfiring.
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