5. Dallas Mavericks

Record: 21 - 13
Last Week's Rank: 5
Last Week's Results: W vs. Boston 89-73, (Mon); L vs. LA Lakers 91-96, (Wed)
This Week: vs. New Jersey, Tuesday (2/28); @ Memphis, Wednesday (2/29); @ New Orleans, Friday (3/2); vs. Utah, Saturday (3/3)

Are this year's Mavericks better than the team that knocked off the Heat in last year's Finals? Maybe. Rick Carlisle is orchestrating a defensive masterpiece, allowing only the Knicks to score over 100 points in the last month and their holding opponents to a .416 shooting percentage—the lowest in the NBA. If Lamar Odom continues to play like a heart-broken runaway that misses Kobe, then look for more consistent minutes from Brandan Wright. The pine-riding forward out of UNC has shown flashes of brilliance in limited minutes and may be what Dallas needs to sure up their struggling front court. —Sean Evans