Photo via Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Your favorite NBA team still sucks. In all seriousness, this is when the NBA season picks up and we get the best day of the season with a slate of Christmas Day games or, according to John Legend, “Christmasketball”.
10. Dallas Mavericks(19-10)
The Mavericks should probably be higher on this list after beating the Bucks on the road without Luka Doncic but there are just teams that are playing better than them at the moment. They, impressively, went 2-2 against the big four of the East, defeating Milwaukee and Philadelphia but losing to Toronto and Boston. It is hard to project the trajectory of Dallas without Doncic but they are, for sure, a playoff team as we surge towards the halfway point.
9. Philadelphia 76ers(21-10)
I just don’t know who this Sixers team is. Ben Simmons is nothing but a glorified Rajon Rondo(post-Celtics) and has been the sole deterrent of this team’s success this season. If Simmons is going to continue to be a timid shooter, then I would really push Philly to make a monumental trade while Simmons still has some sort of value.
8. Houston Rockets(20-9)
There’s nothing much I can say about the Rockets that has not been said already. They score a lot of points and they give up a lot of points. Recently, they have scored more points than allowed points, which includes a nice road win over the LA Clippers*(poor officiating). Houston has established an identity that has not improved or altered in any way that makes them any sort of contender for an NBA title. They live and die on the three-point line.
7. Denver Nuggets(20-8)
The Nuggets find themselves back in the top ten after quietly winning six games in a row, which includes a blowout of the Lakers at STAPLES Center last night. Outside of that game, Denver is still struggling in the scoring department and will need to figure that out before they get back into legit West contention. Maybe the LA win is exactly what they needed.
6. Los Angeles Lakers(24-6)
The Lakers are exactly who we thought they were. This team is not winning a championship with this short-term success that they will have. LA had Anthony Davis last night and still got destroyed by a Nuggets team that is in the bottom ten of the league in scoring. If your name isn’t Kuzma, LeBron, or Davis, you can’t score on this Laker team. If AD and LeBron start missing games more often in 2020, this team is going to descend rapidly, which is exactly what we expected. They will lose their fourth straight on Christmas Day.
5. Los Angeles Clippers(22-10)
There’s one simple solution to the Clippers losing games: Kawhi Leonard.
The domination is there but when Leonard missing games, the Clippers go back to the old trend of not being able to hold leads in games they should win, which was the case last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their former first-round pick and breakout star last year, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ran all over his former team and showed why the Clippers do miss him. However, the Clippers will get back on track Christmas night with a win over the Lakers, so we have that to look forward to.
4. Miami Heat(21-8)
Yes, the Miami Heat have established themselves as both a great offensive and defensive squad through 29 games this season. The 305 will have a blast watching this franchise for the remainder of the regular season that will, unfortunately, end in a second-round elimination in the postseason. High floor. Incredibly low ceiling.
3. Toronto Raptors(21-8)
Nick Nurse deserves a fat Christmas bonus after rallying his team from a 30-point deficit against Dallas yesterday. Toronto has now won five straight and will get ready for games this week in Indiana and a home-and-home series against Boston, with one of those taking place on Christmas morning.
2. Boston Celtics(20-7)
It is odd being from LA and enjoying a team from Boston but that is what the Celtics have been this season. The strides this team has made after letting Kyrie Irving walk is night and day. If I were to pick a team to knock off Milwaukee from the East throne, it would be the Boston Celtics. They have the best chemistry of the top four in the East and are ready to win now.
1. Milwaukee Bucks(27-4)
The Bucks have already handled both the Lakers and Clippers this season and the Larry O’Brien Trophy is theirs to lose. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to get better and better and better with no slowing down in sight. He’s averaging 31 points per game, while shooting at a clip of 56.6% and averaging 13 rebounds a game. He’s the best player on the planet and it is not even close. Can anybody take down the Milwaukee and should anyone bother trying?