We are just about halfway through this condensed season, and there has been plenty to talk about: The Heat and Thunder's co-dominance of the league, the rising Clippers, the Spurs in good form, etc. But what can what are some key things to eyeball during the second half the season? Here are some of the key things that I think will be worth watching down the stretch towards the playoffs.
(Image from bleacherreport.com)
1. Dwight Howard's Final Destination: What the Orlando Magic will ultimately do with Dwight Howard is a huge story to watch develop over the second half of the season, especially as the trade deadline approaches on March 15. Will the Magic gamble and keep Howard, hoping he stays, knowing that they risk losing him for nothing? Or do they trade him to the Nets or some other franchise that he has been linked to? What the Magic choose to do is no doubt going to play a huge role in what happens in the second half of the season.
2. What other trades will be done? Who's gonna make a big move before the deadline? Sort of as an extension of the Dwight Howard story, something to really watch for is what other teams are going to do before the trade deadline. Teams like the Lakers and Spurs are teams that could really use a move to improve their title chances. Magic Johnson says that the Spurs are "one move away" from being a contender, and also that they "need to add another big man". Will the Spurs make such a move, and what would they have in mind? Interesting to see what the Spurs will do. As for the Lakers, will they trade Pau Gasol or keep him? The consensus is Gasol is going to remain with the purple and gold, but they were comfortable letting Lamar Odom walk for nothing, so maybe they'll trade Gasol, too. Whatever they do over the next few weeks, the Lakers will certainly be a focal point of this year's trade deadline. As for the Phoenix Suns, it will be interesting to see what they do with Nash. It sounds like they intend to keep him, but it only seems to be so that he can retire a Sun. But maybe they'll move him if a team gives them an offer that they can't resist.
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3. Will the Knicks get home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs? Now that the Knicks have Jeremy Lin running the point, will they pass the Sixers and win the division? Or at least get home court in the first round? If the Knicks continue to improve they could give Miami and Chicago some problems, but they won't beat either team in a 7 game series. But what will be interesting to watch is where they end up in the regular season standings.
(Image from sportsofboston.com)
4. Do the Bulls and/or the Thunder reach the Finals? Both teams are young, and both teams have gone from 8 seeds to 1 seeds in just the span of 1 season. What is next for these two teams? NBA Finals? Both teams have the capability to do it, but will they deliver in the playoffs? That remains to be seen.
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5. How for real are the Clippers? They look great on paper, and Mo Williams is keeping them afloat with Chauncey Billups done for the season. But how serious of contenders are they? Chris Broussard is still picking them to win the west? Are they that good? Will they step it up in the playoffs when they as a team as never been there before? Interesting to see how things shake out for "Lop City".
(Image from blog.chron.com)
6. Do the Heat win it all? This is by far the most interesting and compelling thing to watch the rest of the year. What will the Heat do? Will they win the whole NBA title this season? That is certainly the biggest question on everybody's mind, and for good reason. A lot of GM's are crossing their fingers in hope that they don't win it all, so that the Heat will split up their big 3, making LeBron, Wade, or Bosh available.