11. Chicago Bulls (15, +4): Joakim Noah has apparently been recruiting Carmelo Anthony to join the Bulls this off-season. If their recent play is some kind of audition, Noah and the Bulls are pulling it off. The Bulls are 7-3 since the All-Star Break and Noah has recorded two triple-doubles in that span.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (11, -1): Marc Gasol finally looks healthy, and the Grizz are benefiting tremendously from that. After winning seven of their last 10, the team is now just one game out of the final playoff spot in the West. Gasol is averaging 16.4 points, 8.2 boards, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals, and 2.0 blocks over his last five games.
13. Dallas Mavericks (10, -3): The Mavericks are struggling at the wrong time, and by losing three of their last four, they’ve put themselves in a virtual tie for the eighth seed in the West. A four-game stretch in which they play Indiana, Golden State and OKC, could make or break their season.
14. Washington Wizards (16, +2): On Feb. 23, the Wizards lost Nene for 4-6 weeks with a sprained MCL. Most would’ve thought it was the beginning of the end in D.C., but they’ve proved their doubters wrong. Since Nene’s injury, they have won five out of six games and are just 1.5 games behind the fourth-seed Bulls in the East.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves (14, -1): After the returns of Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, the Wolves are at full-strength once again, but is it too little too late? Minnesota now sits five games back of the final playoff spot in the West and that may be too much to overcome.
16. Charlotte Bobcats (13, -3): The Bobcats seemed to have turned the corner a few weeks ago, winning four straight games from Feb. 18-22, but that is all in the rear view, as the team has now dropped four of their last six. A win this past Wednesday over the Pacers offers some hope, but they’ll have to be more consistent if they want to make the playoffs.
17. Brooklyn Nets (17, NC): Every time you think the Nets have figured it out, they throw you for a loop. After winning five in a row, they got embarrassed by the Celtics on Friday night. If the Nets can just put the pieces together, they could be a sleeper in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
18. Denver Nuggets (19, +1): What a difference Ty Lawson makes for this team. When the Nuggets’ PG is in their lineup, the team is 24-24 and scores 107 ppg. Without him they are 3-10 and average 92.9 ppg.
19. Cleveland Cavaliers (18, -1): Luol Deng has really struggled since coming over from the Bulls in January. In 27 games with the Cavs, the impending free agent is averaging 14.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and shooting what would be a career-low 40.6 percent from the field.