Columnists, Sports

Between the Lines: NBA All-Star break round-up

Lebron James has been pushing the Cleveland front office to make moves to acquire more playmakers. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

With the NBA All-Star break upon us, some teams are gearing up for playoff basketball, others look lost, and some are in utter shambles. There is no better time to take a look at the state of each team coming out of this All-Star break.

Western Conference
The Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s cast of supervillains, enter the All-Star break with the league’s best record for the third consecutive year. They have one of the most talented starting lineups in recent memory and after some early season struggles, they look primed to hold onto the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

The San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets have plenty of playoff experience and both have more wins than the Cavaliers. The Los Angeles Clippers have a deep roster, but they need to make a move or else they might never make the conference finals. Utah, Memphis, and Oklahoma City are all stuck in the middle. They are all good enough to make the playoffs, but does anyone actually believe they can compete with the top teams in the league?

Then comes the teams competing for the opportunity to get embarrassed by the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs: Denver, Sacramento, Portland, New Orleans, Dallas and Minnesota. A mixture of young teams on the rise and older teams that should think about rebuilding. Oh yeah, then there is the Lakers and Suns in a battle of their own for the worst team in the West.

Eastern Conference
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the East, but some strange things have been happening in “The Land” recently. LeBron James is lobbying for playmakers, feuding with Charles Barkley and having expletive-filled postgame press conferences. Kyrie Irving believes that the Earth is flat. Kevin Love will be out for at least six weeks and J.R. Smith hasn’t played since December and likely won’t be back until early April.

The Boston Celtics return from the break three games back of the Cavaliers after winning 11 of their last 13 games. Isaiah Thomas, “The King in the Fourth,” leads the league in fourth-quarter scoring, proving he is what Boston will need in the playoffs. This team could be the top seed in the East and get the first pick in the draft.

The Washington Wizards are one of the league’s hottest teams thanks to one of the most talented backcourts in the NBA, John Wall and Bradley Beal. Otto Porter Jr. has established himself as a threat from behind the arc by shooting 46.5 percent from three this season. Let’s just hope they don’t wear those Baltimore Bullets uniforms in the playoffs. Even the Toronto Raptors are making their playoff push by trading for Serge Ibaka last week. The Raptors should be around long enough for Drake to get plenty of courtside air time during the playoffs.

A month ago, Atlanta started rebuilding their roster after trading Kyle Korver to Cleveland; now they are buyers at the trade deadline. The Hawks need to decide what direction to go in, and fast. The Pacers want to get help for Paul George, yet he won’t commit to signing a new deal with Indiana. Chicago and Detroit are hanging on to playoff spots amid swirling trade rumors. The Knicks are in absolute disarray, Miami is missing Dwyane Wade, and Philadelphia is still trusting the process. Orlando is losing trades at an incredible rate and Brooklyn must really want the Celtics to get that No. 1 pick.

This NBA season has given fans as much drama as a season of “Days of Our Lives.” From Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, to James and Barkley, to Charles Oakley and James Dolan, the second half of the season is sure to deliver an entertaining product. Will the Cavs and Warriors meet in the Finals again to complete the trilogy, or will a team disrupt the presumed rematch? One thing is for certain: it will be interesting to see how the second half of the season will unfold.

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