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The Miami Heat seem to be hitting their stride as the season progresses, going 19-1 in the month of December. ((James Riley/NBAE via Getty Images) )

Each week, CBCSports.ca's Lance Winn breaks down the balance of power in the National Basketball Association.

1. MIAMI HEAT [up from 5]
Record : 29-9
Last 10 : 9-1

If the month of December is a preview of things to come then look for this team to fight their way to the top of the East. They went 19-1 in the final month of 2010, are riding a current eight-game winning streak, and a 13-5 record away from the friendly confines is enough to put the King and his throne atop the rankings. This team is good, and getting better.
2. BOSTON CELTICS [up from 2]
Record : 28-7
Last 10 : 7-3

Healthy again, the green and white disposed of the Spurs for their third straight win and still reign supreme in the conference. All five starters average double-digits points, and Shaquille O’Neal is playing like a veteran with something to prove. Speaking of which, checked Paul Pierce lately? 23.7 PPG in his last three and is shooting 61 per cent from the floor, not bad considering the 33-year old was supposed to be on his last leg..
3. SAN ANTONIO SPURS [unchanged]
Record : 30-6
Last 10 : 7-3

Consecutive losses for the first time this season might concern some, but not Gregg Popovich. Falling in the Big Apple and then again in Beantown aren’t cause for concern. The veteran core is healthy and they understand the importance of sharing the basketball (fifth in assists). The next four are against teams below .500 so expect that short skid to end.
4. ORLANDO MAGIC [up from 16]
Record : 24-12
Last 10 : 8-2

Just when you thought the changes weren’t going to pay off, the Magic have reeled off eight in a row and have become one of the stingiest teams in the league. Fifth in points allowed, third in defensive rebounds, and they hold their opponents to 19.3 assists per game (second).
5. DALLAS MAVERICKS [down from 3]
Record : 26-9
Last 10 : 6-4

After dropping three straight, the Mavs found their grove winning their last two despite missing two starters, Caron Butler and Dirk Nowitzki. Not so lucky against the Thunder and next up is the Magic… they'll need all the offensive weapons they can muster.
6. LA LAKERS [unchanged]
Record : 26-11
Last 10 : 6-4

You didn’t forget about the defending champs did you? That’s what Phil, Kobe, and the rest of the gang want teams to think. They rank sixth in scoring (103.3), third in rebounds (44.3), and still hold the opposition to under 100 points. They’ll be there when the time comes.

7. ATLANTA HAWKS [up from 9]
Record : 24-14
Last 10 : 7-3

Glad to have Joe Johnson back in uniform? The Hawks have won three and “no ordinary” Joe is averaging 20 PPG. Just in time to, Atlanta is ranked 18th in the league at 97.5 PPG.

8. CHICAGO BULLS [down from 7]
Record : 23-12
Last 10 : 7-3

Loses to New Jersey and Philly before heading into Boston are less than ideal but this team is resilient if anything. They also play their next five games against Eastern Conference opponents so that should help solidify things in the Central Division.
9. UTAH JAZZ [down from 4]
Record : 24-13
Last 10 : 6-4

So the Jazz dropped consecutive games for just the second time this season, no need to panic. They are still tied atop the Northwest, and play outstanding team defence. Next up: the Rockets, Knicks, Cavaliers, Wizards and Nets. If you’re a Utah fan, try not to look so smug.
10. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS [up from 11]
Record : 21-16
Last 10 : 5-5

Not sure how this team continues to keep pace in the West averaging just 93 PPG (27th) but they are. Losing to the Lakers isn’t cause for concern... that comes in the form of Denver and then Orlando.
11. NY KNICKS [down from 10]
Record : 21-14
Last 10 : 5-5

Talk about a turnaround. Am'are Stoudamire returned to Phoenix and made the Suns pay by leading his team to a 25-point blowout in the desert. Yes, the Knicks lead the Association averaging 108 PPG, who would have thought?
12. DENVER NUGGETS [unchanged]
Record : 20-15
Last 10 : 5-5

The issues a mile above sea level aren’t about to go away (at least not until Melo does). That aside, they have no problem scoring (106 PPG), but losing by 20 to the lowly Kings certainly didn’t sit well with head coach George Karl.

13. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER [down from 8]
Record : 24-13
Last 10 : 5-5

A big win over the Mavericks will go a long way. Kevin Durant continues to be all but unstoppable leading the team with 28 PPG.

14. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS [down from 13]
Record : 20-17
Last 10 : 7-3

Beat the teams below, and split with the teams above, that’s how you remain in the hunt. That’s exactly what the Blazers have done. With the Heat and Knicks in their immediate future, things are about to get hectic.

15. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES [up from 19]
Record : 17-19
Last 10 : 5-5

A strong showing against the Jazz but they’ll need more consistency if they want to make up any ground in the tough Southwest Division.

16. HOUSTON ROCKETS [down from 15]
Record : 16-20
Last 10 : 5-5

Just when you thought the Rockets had found solid ground they lose four straight with no end in sight. Utah, Boston, OKC, New Orleans and Atlanta. Things will get worse before they get better.
17. INDIANA PACERS [down from 14]
Record : 14-19
Last 10 : 3-7

They fought hard the entire 48 minutes but still manage to come up short against the Spurs. Continue to hold down the seventh spot in the East.
18. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS [up from 20]
Record : 15-21
Last 10 : 5-5

They get the Clippers twice, and the Nets once in an eight-day span…there’s always hope in the East.

19. GOLDEN STATE WARRRIORS [up from 21]
Record : 15-21
Last 10 : 6-4

Not easy to keep the ship afloat in the West…but they are.

20. PHOENIX SUNS [down from 17]
Record : 14-20
Last 10 : 6-4

The Suns continue to set having dropped three straight and eight of their last 10. Steve Nash leads the team in scoring averaging 17 PPG, and 11 assists. Time to give Captain Canada a chance at a ring and leave the desert behind.
21. MILWAUKEE BUCKS [down from 18]
Record : 13-21
Last 10 : 3-7

They are last in the league at the offensive end, but fifth on defence. In the East that means you’re still in the playoff hunt.
22. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS [down from 18]
Record : 12-21
Last 10 : 4-6

Will improve when they finally get healthy…if that ever happens.
23. TORONTO RAPTORS [unchanged]
Record : 12-24
Last 10 : 3-7

Beat Cleveland and fell hard in Boston. Did anyone expect any different?
24. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS [up from 27]
Record : 11-24
Last 10 : 6-4

Any improvement is good improvement.
25. DETROIT PISTONS [down from 22]
Record : 11-24
Last 10 : 4-6

Remember when the Pistons were good? Been awhile.
26. NEW JERSEY NETS [down from 25]
Record : 10-26
Last 10 : 3-7

Lost by 20 to the Wizards…now they head west. Case closed.
27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES [down from 29]
Record : 9-28
Last 10 : 3-7

They can score but just can’t stop anyone from doing the same.

28. WASHINGTON WIZARDS [unchanged]
Record : 9-25
Last 10 : 3-7

It’s always a good time to put an end to a three-game skid.

29. SACRAMENTO KINGS [up from 30]
Record : 8-25
Last 10 : 3-7

Routing the Nuggets will move you up in the rankings. So will Tyreke Evans. Four more just like him and they’d be contending for the title.

30. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS [down from 26]
Record : 8-28
Last 10 : 1-9

And they never recovered.