Fresh off the All-Star break, the NBA and its host of stars will be getting right back into it as the second half of the season kicks off with no hold-up. Unlike other years, this season is a shortened one due to the pandemic and how it impacts players and organizations, meaning it’s all hands on deck, even for bookmakers. There is hope that fans may make a full appearance in the arenas if all goes well, but the safest bet is that happening next season when the league’s thinktanks may have brought up the merits of vaccines and better measures.
After a hot and cold All-Star break which can generally be deemed a success due to the awareness and visibility to HBCUs and the otherworldly show put on by Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard, the player will get right back to the business of chasing glory on Wednesday. The Dallas Mavericks were on the rise before the break and will have to confirm their little run in a back-to-back, first against the gritty San Antonio Spurs and then the rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder. The other teams in action on the opening night of the restart will be the Grizzlies and Wizards, two teams undergoing two different types of rebuilding. The Wizards have the league’s scoring leader in Bradley Beal, while the Grizzlies have the young and exciting Ja Morant. On Thursday night, the Clippers will be looking to avenge Curry and the Warriors after the shock loss from their last matchup.
The Warriors can very well be a thorn in the West if they can find some consistency. Playing above .500 basketball all season, the Warriors will need more of the hot-handed Curry we saw at the ASG and for more players to step up around him. In the East, the Nets have recently added Blake Griffin to their ranks, and the new-look side will take a test run against potential East rivals, the Boston Celtics. The surprising New York Knicks will face reigning MVP and DPOY Giannis and the Bucks, while LaVine’s Bulls take on the 76ers without Embiid and Simmons, both out due to contact tracing protocols. The two stars if the 76ers had to miss out on All-Star fireworks due to the same protocols and will undoubtedly be itching to get back out there. Two teams that have been in a dismal form almost all season, the Kings and Rockets, will face off and try to kick the second half on a winning note.
The Rockets are slowly winding down into a rebuild and are expected to be very active around the trade deadline. The Miami Heat were met with some controversy this week when Center Myers Leonard used to slur during an online CoD session. He has been suspended from the team, but the team will have only the Magic on their mind this Thursday. Two teams that have for one reason or another been overachieving this season, the Suns and Chris Paul will square off against Lillard’s Trailblazers.