We’ve reached the All-Star Break, that wonderful halfway point of the NBA season where teams get over a week off, things get festive, and the trade deadline looms. Teams now have to look at whether they’ll make that playoff push, or head down the tank.
And to get you caught up to speed, we’ll be reviewing how each team has stacked up this season compared to expectations, and where things are looking after the All-Star Break. First-up, the Atlantic Division.
Boston Celtics (37-19, second in East)
Preseason Pick: third in East
Well, we projected the Celtics to finish around the third seed in the East with 54 wins, and they’re currently on pace for just that. However, they’ve got the second seed, and that rebuild is officially complete. As far as the trade deadline, Boston is reportedly looking to add that star to compete against the Cavs, and they honestly look like the team most prepared to do it.
Biggest Question in Second Half: Well, it’s just that. Can the Celtics land another stud to compliment Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, or are they going with this deep roster? Thomas has been unbelievable, even MVP-worthy, but he needs some help. If the Celtics have dreams beyond the second round of the playoffs, they might need to get Thomas some help. They’re still a tough out.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Slightly Better
— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2017
Toronto Raptors (33-24, fourth in East)
Preseason Pick: second in East
The Raptors are a little off expectations, but they’re still looking pretty good. They looked bad heading into the break, but they’ve added Serge Ibaka to shore up their defense. This isn’t quite as good of a lineup as the one we saw last year, but this is still probably the most deadly team to Cleveland in the postseason. Still, DeMar DeRozan is a having a career year, and he can really lead this team to wherever they want to go.
Biggest Question in the Second Half: Is Ibaka enough? The Raptors doubled down on the defense, trading away Terrence Ross and nabbing Ibaka to give things a try. It’s not a guarantee, but the payoff on Ibaka is finally having some rim protection to challenge the Cavs or whomever else they go up against. Them gelling is going to be a big storyline in the season’s second half.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Slightly Worse
The Raptors at the mid-point of the season were 28-13, since then 5-11. they have traded for Ibaka and getting a much needed all star break.
— Moub (@moubyoussuf22) February 16, 2017
New York Knicks (23-34, 12th in East)
Preseason Pick: ninth in East
The Knicks are a dumpster fire. No, really. They’ve had just about every distracting thing you can think of happen to them already this year, and we’re only at the break. Still, they’re somehow only four games out of a playoff spot, and Melo is playing pretty well in the last few weeks. Still, this team is a massive mess, and there doesn’t look like a way to help them. I mean, they have the front office publicly saying they want to move Melo. So much for the Super Team thing, right?
Biggest Question in the Second Half: Will this roster make it to the end? Everything they seemingly needed to happen to be good has happened: Porzingis is better, Rose has been healthy, and still this team can’t come together. It’s got to be the constant drama in the Garden, but still, will this roster even be intact by the time the season finishes?
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Worse
— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) February 16, 2017
Philadelphia 76ers (21-35, 13th in East)
Preseason Pick: 14th in East
The Sixers haven’t been great, but they’ve been one of the most exciting teams in basketball this year. I mean, they’re only one win away from our projections for them for the whole season. Embiid has been spectacular, TJ McConnell has turned into a stud, and the front-court problem has actually worked out great. The Sixers look like a real basketball team, and they very well could be something to deal with if Ben Simmons indeed returns in the next two weeks.
Biggest Question in the Second Half: How’s Embiid’s knee? I know it’s tacky to talk about injuries with this team so much, but come on. This whole season, and those after it, rest on how healthy the big fella is. He’s got a banged up knee again, and there are concerns it might end up costing him the season. Let’s hope not – the Sixers are still in striking distance of a playoff spot.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Better
sixers thinking ben simmons and joel embiid can never get hurt if they never play pic.twitter.com/qmOtxN2X1e
— sir joseph (@omgrare) February 13, 2017
Brooklyn Nets (9-47, 15th in East)
Preseason Pick: 15th in East
Yeah, the Nets have been exactly who we thought. After starting out pretty decent, they’ve receded back to the abyss. They are shopping Brook Lopez, and the Jeremy Lin deal really hasn’t panned out with the injuries he’s had. The roster is bad, but at least they’ve got some money to play with in the summer. This season is already lost, but it’s nothing we didn’t expect.
Biggest Question of the second Half: Will Lopez be a Net? He is again being shopped, and that’s a shame: the big guy is one of the best Nets ever. But it’s time for the Nets to rebuild, and if they’re going to get anything for him, it’s time to deal him before it gets too late. And when that happens, this team is going to get BAD.
Worse or Better Than We Thought: Worse
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) February 16, 2017