Now that the first half of the NBA season is officially over, we can look forward to what the second half has to offer.
The first half treated us with not only spectacular individual and team performances, but also with a great deal of drama.
The Warriors, Spurs and Rockets stand atop the Western Conference standings while the Cavaliers are being tailed by the Celtics, Wizards and Raptors in the East.
Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double on the season and is looking to become the first player to average a season-long triple-double since Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat in the 1961-1962 season.
The only thing getting more attention than his play has been his open feud with former teammate Kevin Durant.
James Harden is somehow leading the NBA in assists.
Joel Embiid has taken the league by storm in his rookie campaign.
The list goes on and on.
With the second half approaching after a short break, here are six things to look for.
Will the Warriors continue their surge?
Unsurprisingly, adding Kevin Durant to a team that broke an NBA record by going 73-9 last season has led to success.
Holding the best record in the NBA at 47-9, the Warriors are an outstanding 24-3 at home and 30-7 against Western Conference opponents.
While they might actually be underperforming in the eyes of some, they’re simply the most dangerous team in the NBA when healthy and are the sure-fire favorites to win the NBA title.
But how will they perform down the stretch?
Since they depend almost solely on the production of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Durant, what would happen if one of them got injured, for example? Also, how will they handle the pressure heading towards the Playoffs?
They’re the ones to watch in the second half, as everyone expects them to run away with the conference.
Will the Durant/Westbrook feud reach new heights?
If you’ve been living under a rock since the start of the season, let me fill you in.
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant really don’t like each other.
While the Warriors have beaten the Thunder three times already this year, there have been fireworks on the court between the former teammates.
They will square off on Monday, March 20 one more time in the regular season, but it doesn’t seem like the two will make up anytime soon, thus intensifying their disdain for each other.
It might get messy.
Will the Cavaliers drop from the top seed in the East?
Since Kevin Love underwent knee surgery and will miss over a month of action, the Cavaliers might struggle to hold onto the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
At 39-16, Cleveland is just three games ahead of the Boston Celtics (37-20), five games ahead of the Washington Wizards (34-21), seven games ahead of the Toronto Raptors (33-24) and 7.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (32-24).
Will Kyrie Irving and LeBron James be able to hold down the fort until Love returns? When Love returns, will he be the same player as he was earlier this season?
Those are major questions and with the teams behind the Cavs surging and making moves (like the Raptors did by acquiring Serge Ibaka), Cleveland’s ability to keep the top spot in the conference is in serious question.
Will Westbrook keep the season-long triple-double in tact?
At the All-Star break, Westbrook is averaging 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game.
The 28-year-old is therefore putting up historic numbers.
One of the main questions for the second half of the season is if he has the mental and physical stamina to keep up such preposterous numbers.
If he does, he will almost surely walk away with his first NBA MVP award, and if not, he runs the risk of being surpassed in that regard.
With very little consistent help around him, the explosive guard has almost single-handedly guided his team to their 32-25 record.
Will the Spurs somehow regain the No. 1 seed in the West?
Somehow, some way, Gregg Popovich always guides his team to 50 regular season wins.
In fact, the Spurs have won 50-plus games in 17-straight seasons, which is one of the most astounding marks in NBA history.
Considering his team’s aging roster and the fact that Tim Duncan is now retired, Popovich will likely be highly considered for the NBA’s Coach of the Year award for his work this season.
There’s shockingly a very real possibility that the Spurs challenge the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference.
At 43-13, San Antonio is just four games behind Golden State for the top spot in the West.
As seen in the past, the Spurs play some of their best basketball in the second half, and if they somehow surpass the Warriors in the standings, it would be one of the most improbable feats of Coach Pop’s illustrious career.
How will the lower playoff seeds shape up in each conference?
What’s really exciting is that in each conference, the 8th spot in the standings (the final Playoff spot) is in reach by a number of teams.
In the West, the Denver Nuggets (25-31) currently hold the position, but the Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves are all within 3.5 games of the spot.
In the East, the Indiana Pacers (29-28), Chicago Bulls (28-29) and Detroit Pistons (27-30) hold the 6th, 7th and 8th seeds respectively while the Milwaukee Bucks (25-30), Miami Heat (25-32), Charlotte Hornets (24-32), New York Knicks (23-34) and even the Philadelphia 76ers (21-35) and Orlando Magic (21-37) are still in the mix.
Therefore, a lot will transpire over the next couple of months leading up to the Playoffs.News Now - Sport News