We're at the 1/5th mark of the season with 251 of 1230 games in the books, and we seemingly have a clear dividing line between the three best teams and the rest of the league.
The Lakers, Celtics and Cavs have established themselves as the NBA's elite, dominating the field. Between them, they've won 20 straight games. Though it seems like they've played all of their games at home so far, L.A. was clearly the best team of October and November. You could make arguments for either the Cavs (winning easier) or the Celtics (winning the head-to-head) as No. 2 and you wouldn't be wrong either way.
Is there really a dropoff after three teams though? What about the Orlando Magic?
The Magic started out 14-3 last season and were at No. 4 in our first rankings of December, right where they are this week. But that was their high-point and they hung around No. 10 for most of the season.
This year, with an improved defense and an ever-improving Dwight Howard, the Magic have put together another strong start, even with injuries to much of their rotation and Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis struggling with their shots. They dropped their first two games, but have gone 11-2 since.
The Magic come into tonight's game in Boston (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV) with a four-game winning streak, but with a depleted lineup. It would be unfair to judge them by tonight's performance, but it's a chance for them to show the league that they've taken the leap from very good team to serious Eastern Conference contender.
• Last Week: An Eventful Four Days
Britney Live Team of the Week: Portland (4-0)
Rosie Live Team of the Week: Philadelphia (0-4)
High jumps of the week: New Jersey, San Antonio (+6), Portland (+5)
Free falls of the week: Phoenix (-6), Utah (-5), Atlanta, Detroit, Memphis, Milwaukee (-4)
East vs. West: East leads 47-35 (.588) in inter-conference games and was 11-8 this week.
Off: Points scored per 100 possessions (League Rank)
Def: Points allowed per 100...