The NBA season, fairly enough, is a journey of up’s and down’s, high’s and lows, and either exceeding expectations or not. Where the first half of the season (pre all-star break) allows for some inconsistent play, to a point, the second half is much different.
With many teams fighting for the eighth playoff spot in their conference or even a fight for the number one seed in the conference, the second half of the NBA season (post all-star break) is very different from the first in that inconsistent play can really mess up a teams season. As the season progresses and April comes closer, teams that really would like to play in the post-season need to win.
Teams out of playoff Contention
Another aspect of the second half that many people don’t usually think about is what teams, who are pretty much out of playoff contention by all-star break, are playing for. For example, the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are 9-47 at all-star break, have lost 14 consecutive game, and are 15th in the Eastern Conference. Even if the Nets won all of their final 26 games, they would still end the season 11 games below .500 at 36-47. A team like this who doesn’t have much to play for at this point in the season has alot of other things on their mind.
One thing that by I have seen by experience is that teams like the Nets primarily begin to look towards next season and tend to play their younger guys like rookie Isaiah Whitehead out of Seton Hall. Whitehead’s minutes have progressively gone up this season and as Nets have lost all hope in going anywhere this season. Whitehead’s minutes should go up even more as the season fizzles away in that he could be the future of this Brooklyn Net’s franchise.
Pretty much locks for the NBA playoffs
Now before we look at the teams that have the most work to do in the second-half, which are the teams that are fighting for a playoff spot, lets look at the teams that are pretty much a lock for the playoffs and just have to keep doing what they’ve been doing all season, which is consistently winning and chipping away at their spot in the conference. A perfect example of this is my favorite team, the Boston Celtics. The Celtics who now stand at 37-20 and second in the Eastern Conference are still hoping for a miracle to happen before tomorrow’s NBA trade deadline. Where the Celtics are hoping to land an all-star in guys like Jimmy Butler or Paul George and make a run at taking down the injury-plagued Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one spot in the Eastern Conference come playoff time, they don’t necessarily need to make a deal in order to have some success in the playoffs.
The Celtics, who were 8-2 in the last 10 prior to the mid season break, have had no troubles winning games they should be winning this season. With all-star Isaiah Thomas or “Mr. Fourth Quarter” averaging just under 30 ppg’s this season running the show for the C’s they have had a lot of success beating teams down the stretch. Where I am not fully confident as this point that the Celtics have the talent to take teams like the Cavs, Warriors, or Spurs down to the buzzer, I believe it is all a process for a team like the Celtics who have consistently gotten better during Coach Brad Steven’s reign in Beantown and a team that has gone to the post season in two straight seasons. So for the Celtics to stay where they are or even fight for the number one seed, they need to continue playing gritty and with alot of heart. With a 5’9″ point guard (on a good day) who averages 10 points in the fourth, games that go down to the end can primarily be won by a really consistent and tough Boston Celtics teams
Teams that still need to fight for a postseason berth
Now that I have talked about teams out of contention, teams that are pretty much locks for the NBA postseason, I will now talk about teams with the most work to do. Teams that are on the outside mainly 9, 10, 11 seeds that still have a shot in being in the top 8 of their conference and making the NBA playoffs. An example of a team from the Eastern Conference that has a great shot of making the playoffs is the Milwaukee Bucks. Under the direction of head coach Jason Kidd, the Bucks have had a very stellar season so far by their standards.
With a 25-30 record going into the all-star and winning eight of their last eleven games, the Greek Freak Giannis Atetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks have work to do in the second half, but I believe they can do it. With all-star starter Atetokounmpo leading the Bucks, he can rely on big man Greg Monroe, shooter Khris Middleton, and very tough forward Jabari Parker to help him out in many different ways.
In the Western Conference a team that could come alive in the second half and possibly make a playoff push is the New Orleans Pelicans. After picking up all-star veteran center DeMarcus Cousins in a trade Sunday night, the Pelicans now have the best frontcourt duo in recent memory with Anthony Davis and Boogie Cousins. These two pairing up in the frontcourt for the Pelicans can really help this make a push in many ways, but in order to make the playoffs the 23-34 Pelicans backcourt really needs to step up down the stretch.
Second half expectations are high for many teams, while some teams have already thrown in the towel. The second half is surely going to be fun to watch.