Ten Before Break: A Rundown of the NBA Pre-All Star
The NBA is just about to wrap up the first half of the season, and it has become a story of different sorts so far. Some teams are ending the grind of the last 40+ games on a high note, while some are just lucky to hang on to where they are so far. The stats of the season so far for team performances will help us figure out how these franchises are setting up to regroup and reprogram their game plan as the second half opens after All-Star break. Here are the stats so far:
The San Antonio Spurs are leading the pack with a 35-6 record, their best start ever in recent years, and the third best in NBA history. They have defended their home court 15 straight times, and are poised to add one more successful defense unless the Toronto Raptors end that streak. Thus far they have won the last six games, and 8 of the last ten games. They are the only team with an .800+ percentage of wins and losses, and are ahead of both Boston (the leading team in the East) and Los Angeles (the next best team to them) by 5 games.
On the other side of the conference, the Boston Celtics are leading the East, 31-9, with the last win coming along with the return of Kevin Garnett from injury. His arrival came in time just when the Miami Heat are on a three-game skid, after losing their own version of the Big Three (James, Wade and Bosh). But the skid has only distanced Miami one game from Boston. That means, if things went the other way (James, Wade and Bosh not injured, and KG still out), it would have been Miami on top of the East. And with the Chicago Bulls on spot number three, and with a three-game rampage (28-13), they’re fast going up the stats, and are expected to rise up some more, the highest ever they’ve gone up since Michael Jordan was a Chicago Bull. The usually soaring Atlanta Hawks have become inconsistent as far as winning games are concerned compared from last season. But they sit at a comfortable position at number 4 (27-15), and have taken over the Orlando Magic (26-15). The Magic was already streaking, thanks to a blockbuster trade that brought them Gilbert Arenas, but it wasn’t long before the other teams figured out their magic and started handing them their losses, the most recent courtesy of Boston. The New York Knicks (22-18) are once again legitimate playoff contenders this season, but is barely hanging on above the .500 mark. The last two teams for the East’s top 8, the Philadelphia 76’ers and the Indiana Pacers don’t have much to brag about, especially with a percentage of just a little above .400.
As for the defending champs, the LA Lakers are just playing their usual steady game, keeping a strong hold on to spot number 2 in the Western conference. Their rise came at the expense of the former number 2, the Dallas Mavericks, who, since the injury of Dirk Nowitzki, have dropped 6 straight games, including the last one when Dirk returned to play for Dallas after being sidelined with an injury. And with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz surging up the standings just before each incurred a loss that snapped both their six-game winning streak, the Mavs have dropped to spot number five, and might not stay there for long, especially with the New Orleans Hornets threatening them with a five-game winning streak. The bottom two teams that comprise the upper half of the West are the Denver Nuggets (23-17) and the Portland Trailblazers (22-20), both barely above the .500 mark.
Teams will be carrying a lot of either momentum or burden by the time All-Star Break is over. This is the part where everybody will be chasing on the top teams, try to topple them off the standings, and make a run to lift themselves up the totem pole. In the East, Boston is leading by 15 games from the number eight team Indiana, while San Antonio is ahead by 13 from last-seeded Portland. Anything can change in just three weeks of game time.
Everybody is keeping their fingers crossed.