DA's Morning Tip

DA's Top 15 Rankings: Celtics flourishing behind Isaiah Thomas

David Aldridge reveals which teams, to him, are the Top 15 squads in the NBA at this moment.

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

1) San Antonio Spurs (3-0) [2]: Gregg Popovich becomes the all-time coaching leader in victories with one team with his 1,128th win as the Spurs’ coach, on Saturday against Denver. Popovich passed Jerry Sloan, who held the previous mark as Utah’s head coach from 1988-2011.

2) Golden State Warriors (2-1) [1]: Their 13-game consecutive win streak over the Kings ends Saturday in Sacramento’s 109-106 overtime victory. The Kings hadn’t beaten the Warriors since March 27, 2013.

3) Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) [3]: Still in no particular hurry to bring in another playmaker.

4) Boston Celtics (4-0) [5]: They are in another gear with Isaiah Thomas playing his best ball of the season.

5) Houston Rockets (2-1) [4]: Trevor Ariza in prolonged slump behind the arc (21 of 82, 25.6 percent) in last 10 games.

6) Washington Wizards (3-0) [9]: The last time the Wizards were .600 (30-20) this late in the season was 2005 — Gilbert Arenas’ second season in D.C.

7) Atlanta Hawks (2-1) [6]: Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s 23 fourth-quarter points in the Hawks’ insane comeback win over Houston Thursday was the first time an Atlanta player had a 20-point fourth since Joe Johnson scored 21 against the Nets on Nov. 14, 2008.

8) Toronto Raptors (2-2) [7]: They need Terrence Ross (.508 FG, including .468 on 3-pointers, in November; .416 FG, including .357 on 3-pointers since then) to get back on track, and pronto.

9) Utah Jazz (2-0) [12]: Peep this lineup coach Quin Snyder used at winning time Saturday against Charlotte: George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson (at the four), Rudy Gobert. Interesting.

10) Memphis Grizzlies (3-1) [10]: They finished a season-long six-game road trip 4-2, will only leave Central Time zone once (9 of next 14 at home) in the next five-plus weeks.

11) Oklahoma City Thunder (2-2) [8]: Would think the Thunder would definitely be in buying mode to try and bolster its bench with Enes Kanter out for a while.

12) Indiana Pacers (3-0) [13]: They have found something that works defensively — 97.3 points per allowed during six-game win streak.

13) LA Clippers (1-2) [11]: You talk about a team running out of time and running out of options.

14) Chicago Bulls (1-1) [14]: Smoke, meet fire.

15) Detroit Pistons (2-1) [NR]: Stan Van Gundy and company may have to make a tough call soon on Ish Smith vs. Reggie Jackson at the point.

Dropped out: Charlotte [15]


Miami (3-0): Erik Spoelstra is doing more than yelling bromides about the Heat’s DNA, and how they’re built for this. He and Miami’s staff are coaching their butts off, getting incredible production out of guys no one expected could carry that kind of load (with all due respect to James Johnson and Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington). Ten straight is 10 straight, and the Heat look serious about making the playoffs again (average margin of victory in three games this week: 18 points), and good for them.


Brooklyn (0-4): Two wins since the day after Christmas. Harsh.

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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 and follow him on Twitter.

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