DA's Morning Tip

DA's Top 15 Rankings: Indiana Pacers rise, Minnesota Timberwolves tumble

David Aldridge

(Last week’s record in parenthesis; last week’s ranking in brackets)

1) Houston Rockets (2-0) [1]: Sunday’s win in Denver starts a brutal stretch for the Rockets: 10 of 13 on the road, including tilts at Utah, the stubborn Clippers, Milwaukee, Toronto, OKC, New Orleans, Minnesota and Portland — where the Blazers have won 10 of their last 11 — between now and March 20.

2) Golden State Warriors (2-0) [3]: Next technical will mean a one-game suspension for Draymond Green, who got his 16th Saturday against Oklahoma City.

3) Toronto Raptors (0-1) [2]: Honk if you had Jonas Valanciunas shooting 48 percent (20 of 42) on 3-pointers this late in the season.

4) San Antonio Spurs (1-1) [4]: Very UnSpursian 2-4 Rodeo Trip. But, they now get nine of the next 12 at home, where they’re 22-6.

5) Boston Celtics (2-1) [5]: With Marcus Smart back after 11 games, you can expect the Celtics’ since-he’s-been-gone-defensive slide to stop.

6) Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2) [6]: Like night and day in the Q.

7) Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) [7]: No one on earth is caught unaware by this, right?

8) Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1) [8]: Zaza Pachulia Night at Chesapeake Arena postponed indefinitely.

9) Washington Wizards (2-1) [9]: Wizards petitioning the league to only play top 10 teams the rest of the season.

10) Indiana Pacers (1-0) [11]: Glenn Robinson III’s return after missing all season following ankle surgery could be a huge boost for the Pacers down the stretch.

11) Philadelphia 76ers (2-1) [12]: Even in-shape All-Stars get hangry from time to time.

12) Minnesota Timberwolves (0-2) [10]: Wolves, and Jimmy Butler, got very lucky that he “just” suffered meniscal damage.

13) Denver Nuggets (1-1) [13]: Among five-man units with more than 200 minutes together, per NBA.com/Stats, only one — Houston’s quintet of Harden, Gordon, Ariza, Anderson and Capela — has a better offensive rating than the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton, Wilson Chandler and Nikola Jokic.

14) Portland Trail Blazers (2-0) [14]: Dolla Dame Lillard averaging a cool 39.4 per on 51.2 percent shooting (62 of 121) in last five.

15) New Orleans Pelicans (2-0) [NR]: They are 5-4 since DeMarcus Cousins went out for the year. Small sample size, but they’re showing a lot of fight and heart so far.

Dropped out: Miami Heat [15]

* * *

Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here andfollow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.