Portland gained one place on four lists, stayed the same on one, and dropped two places on another. They now range from a high of 7 to a low of 10.
8. Portland Trail Blazers (47-25. Last week: 9)
Damian Lillard willed the Trail Blazers out of a sixth straight loss with a big game against Utah, and the Blazers followed it up with a home win over Denver. Portland needed this little streak as it heads into a tough road schedule to end the year. Wednesday against the Clippers is a great opportunity to get a playoff sneak peak.
Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) San Antonio, 4) Los Angeles Clippers, & 5) Houston.
10. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS LAST WEEK: 11 RECORD: 47-25 (3-1)
If there was an award for gutsiest performance this season, LaMarcus Aldridge would be a heavy favorite. In addition to playing through a painful thumb injury for a large portion of this season, Aldridge missed just one game after it sounded like he would be out awhile. Portland has won all three games since Aldridge returned and benefited from his 32 points and 11 rebounds in its most recent contest.
Matt Moore of CBSSports: 1) Golden State, 2) San Antonio, 3) Cleveland, 4) Houston, & 5) Atlanta.
7. Last week: 5. A playoff wild card. Missing injured Wesley Matthews would seem to prevent them from climbing the ladder, but with their system, personnel, resiliency and how low they're flying under radar, the Blazers could be more dangerous than people assume.
John Schuhmann of nba.com: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) Atlanta, 4) San Antonio, & 5) Los Angeles Clippers.
8. Last week: 9 Portland (47-25) Pace: 96.4 (13) OffRtg: 105.2 (9) DefRtg: 100.9 (9) NetRtg: +4.3 (5)
The Blazers have regained their footing with a three-game winning streak (despite 33 percent shooting from Damian Lillard) and could regain the edge for home-court advantage in the first round with a win over the Clippers on Wednesday. Including that game, six of their final 10 are against teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
This week: vs. PHX, vs. LAC, @ LAL, vs. NOP
Marc Stein of ESPN: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) San Antonio, 4) Atlanta, & 5) Houston.
9. Portland 47-25 Last Week: 9 That recent five-game skid was the Blazers' longest since the 13 in a row dropped to close out 2012-13 when they were playing for lottery position. But they just rebounded with three nice wins, including road Ws at Utah and Phoenix, largely because LaMarcus Aldridge keeps ballin' through pain.
Mark Spears of Yahoo.com: 1) Golden State, 2) Cleveland, 3) Houston, 4) Los Angeles Clippers, & 5) San Antonio.
7. Portland Trail Blazers (Record: 47-25; last week: 8): Portland has won three straight, but is just 5-5 in its last 10 games.
Those who've been following these lists will notice the appearance of a usual late-season suspect ranked in the top-5 of all our lists: the Spurs.
The good news for the Trail Blazers is that 5 of their last 9 games are against teams on the 2nd night of back-to-backs.