Olympic momentum, deadline deals send contenders into the stretch

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A reminder: These rankings are based on many factors, and not one is scientific. They're heavily influenced by recent play, taking into account expectations versus achievement, quality of opponents, injuries, hot or cold streaks, lucky bounces, bad breaks, official malfeasance, travel schedule, and my uncannily intuitive gut calls on how each team stacks up against the rest of the Original 30. Please note that I, unlike some referees, do not have it in for your team and no homer glasses were worn during the creation of these rankings.

NOTE: Since we're coming off the break, the actual order of the teams hasn't changed since the last installment, although "last week's position" refers to where they stood the week before the Games. Consider this more of a post-Olympic, pre-trade deadline refresher.

Want to send me a comment or maybe a cool video clip that cries out to be shared? Scroll to the bottom of this page for my Mailbag. I read 'em all and if you're halfway civil -- or at least clever in your skewering of my decisions -- I'll try to get back to you.

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