By Gordon Robinson

1) Atlanta Hawks (34-8) – The Atlanta Hawks have won 13 games in a row with wins against Chicago, Toronto, Washington, Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Twice Atlanta has stopped a Detroit Pistons’ winning streak and taken down NBA favorites with good old team basketball despite all of the doubters about their playoff chances.
2) Golden State Warriors (33-6) – The Warriors are ranked first in the NBA in points per game and in assists. Andrew Bogut is back from knee injury and Golden State is 6-1 since his return. The Warriors have posted back to back wins after losing to Oklahoma City, but before that they had won 11 straight games.  Stephen Curry is a leading candidate for league MVP and so far shows no signs of letting up.  Golden State’s next three opponents are the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and the Boston Celtics.
3) Los Angeles Clippers (28-14) – The Clippers have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games with significant wins against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Dallas Mavericks.  Those wins were important because Lob City will be competing against the Mavericks, the Houston Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies for playoff seating.  Blake Griffin is averaging 23 points per game to go with 7.6 rebounds and is starting to be mentioned in MVP talk.
4) San Antonio Spurs (26-16) – The Spurs have also won seven of their last 10 games and all of their last three games, which were against Charlotte, Portland and the Utah Jazz. San Antonio will also be in the mix with the Clippers, Rockets, Mavericks and Grizzlies for prime playoff slots while watching their back as the Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans all fight just to make it into the tournament.
5) Dallas Mavericks (29-13) – The Mavs are 11-6 since acquiring Rajon Rondo with back to back wins in their last two games. The latest win being a tough come from behind victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.  Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis continue to lead this squad into the All Star break.  The next three games for Dallas include a road trip to Minnesota to take on the Grizzlies, then it’s back home to face the Chicago Bulls and then back on the road to face the Pelicans of New Orleans.

We are starting to see that in both the East and the West that these games are becoming more and more important as we get closer to the All Star break.  Teams are fighting for prime real estate in the standings and are going to have to eliminate each other to get to the top.  It will be exciting to watch and see where Oklahoma City, Cleveland and even San Antonio turn up at end of the regular season.