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NBA Links: Eastern Conference standings starting to take shape, and more

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It was a win yesterday in Boston for the good guys.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Eastern Conference is taking shape bit by bit

The top six teams in the East aren't too bad, and of course the Cavs are the cream of the crop by far although their record doesn't suggest it much. They have strong all around depth and the most aggravating but still useful player in the East, I think, in Matthew Dellavedova. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are doing their thing so J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson don't have to do too much. Richard Jefferson and Mo Williams will be counted on at times, and can deliver.

That should about cover it.

The next five

Of the next five I really don't see any team that will fall by the wayside, even the Pacers (now sixth seed), who don't scare anybody but do have Paul George suiting up and a bevy of unspectacular yet professional professionals around him. Frank Vogel isn't dumb either.

The Bulls, Heat, Raptors and Hawks all have various problems and concerns. Where do we start? Well, this is why we have knowledgeable and enthusiastic readers here at DBB. Discuss these four teams ad nauseam in the comments, gang! Let's not forget that these five squads aren't too far away from giving the Cavs all they can handle.

In my estimation, however, a healthy Heat should pose the most resistance. Estimations, opinions, whatever, will likely change in another dozen games or so. Maybe the Bulls are unbelievable for the next several weeks and keep winning despite most of their roster being on the trade block?

The next three

That brings us to our Bad Boys, then the Celtics and the Magic. YES, I realize only a few games separate the ninth seed (Magic), from the second seed (Bulls), so talking about these three teams as being on the 'outside looking in' isn't correct. Pistons, Celtics and Magic can all make their way into the top six, but it isn't likely to happen by way of a currently top six team...I said it above, falling by the wayside.

These three teams are fun and unique, all in their own way. The Pistons as a whole aren't consistent, but that's why they're dangerous and it's why we love them. Finally Swag is back and it should lead to new heights. Many fans think a top four finish is not out of the question. It's not! Though it's going to be very tough the way this conference is shaking (or not shaking) out.

The Celtics are deep, well coached, scrappy, well on their way in the near future to taking a big step with a top acquisition. If they weren't in the East I'd root for them often.

The Magic are very young, are getting punked a lot recently and really need injured Elfrid Payton to return quickly. Loads of talent there though and many decisions await.

Your guess is as good as mine

The Knicks are nearly back to .500, but they are nothing more than a wannabe .500 team. Look at their roster and notice how up and down they've played. Then look at their best player, no matter how much you (or others) think he has matured or how well he has grown into a leadership role. Pretty sure they will make a move or two soon. Shouldn't move the needle too much.

The Hornets have fallen on rough times, losers of five straight, dealing with injuries to Al Jefferson and Nic Batum. They seem well coached and their depth should keep them afloat -- they'll stay in the mix.

The Wizards are still banged up and head coach Randy Wittman is not popular these days. For some informed thoughts on the Wiz, this post is not bad. The Wiz are still fine for a sixth or seventh seed.

The Bucks are the Bucks at this point.

The 76ers are scorching hot with Ish Smith back on the roster after the recent blockbuster deal. Unfortunately the Sixers already have 30+ losses and it seems at times they don't even want to be a member of the NBA.

Say, I almost missed the Nets, the Pistons next opponent.

I waited several seconds and the feeling passed to write something about them, so I'm going to move on.

Reggie Bullock's middle name is Ryedell, which is pretty neat

Speaking of people's names, I'm sure there's a decent percentage of hoops fans who are not aware of Stephen Curry's actual first name. It's Wardell, named after his dad, Wardell 'Dell' Curry. I've only known about this for a couple of years. I've recently realized that others are still in the dark about it.

Anybody curious about a list of current NBA players who go by their middle names (written in 2014)? Here you go.

Steve (Hanson) Blake is easy to like

I never paid much attention to Steve Blake before he became a Detroit bballer. For sure I recognized his penchant for knocking down threes and being a dependable, tough player for so many years. Though very recently I have engaged in Steve Blake googling and such, for it is really instrumental in getting to know more about him. And I'm not doing it just because his wife is good looking, either.

Steve Blake being stylish in shades, here.

Steve Blake as Super Mario, here.

Steve Blake chilling, here.

Steve Blake chilling with a big smile, here.

A fun 'Would You Rather' interview with Steve when he played with the Lakers between 2010-14.

MT: Would you rather be limited to watching a cartoon show like "Dora The Explorer" exclusively for a full calendar year, or have to get a duplicate of each Matt Barnes tattoo?

Blake: Well, the fact that I just like watching cartoons with my kids means I'll take "Dora." That's an easy one for me. I do have one tattoo, but it's not visible to the public eye.

MT: So you're keeping it on the DL? (pause) ... OK, fair enough.

Charlie V for Three!

Charlie Villanueva in a starting role on Wednesday night -- filling in for the exhausted Dirk Nowitzki (DNP REST) --struck a whole lot of iron in a 1-10 (0-5 from deep) effort in 21 minutes. Charlie's starting front court buddy was JaVale McGee (because the Mavs were essentially resting the whole team). The Mavericks did beat the Pelicans despite all of what I have written above.

Charlie has been barely mediocre this season, shooting about 7% worse from downtown than his career average. Charlie is in the Dallas rotation, having appeared in nearly every game so far. He'll have a decent shooting game every other week, so what's new.

Alright, that should cover the Charlie V update for about the rest of his career.

In case you missed it --

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of 'form a f-ing wall'.

It's been adorable bunnies and f-ing Klondike bars in Pistons land ever since.

~~

Off you go, gang!