NBA 1st Half Recap: Surprises and Disappointments
The NBA 1st half has come to an end with the All-Star break arriving this weekend. It has been filled with crazy buzzer beaters, insane alley oops, and unreal performances. It has also been filled with surprises and disappointments with teams as a whole and individual players. Teams like Atlanta, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Oklahoma City haven’t turned out like everyone has expected.
The Atlanta Hawks are currently sitting atop the Eastern conference at 43-11. They have a 6.5 game over the Toronto Raptors. The Hawks are by far the biggest surprise in the NBA because of how dominant they have been. They have won game after game by playing fantastic defense and playing as a whole unit. They do not have a singular player who takes over games for them. Instead, It is a group of guys who play their hearts out every night and someone steps up to make the big plays when they are needed. The Hawks look really good, but we will have to wait and see if they can compete with the likes of the Cavaliers and Bulls.
The Milwaukee Bucks have also been a pleasant surprise this season already eclipsing the 30 win mark. They have already doubled there win total from last season, and they became the first team in NBA history to double their win total from the previous season before the All-Star break. The Bucks have been led this season by Brandon Knight, who leads the team in scoring. The Bucks also lost outstanding rookie Jabari Parker early in the season with a knee injury. After Parker went down, everyone wrote the Bucks off, but the Bucks answered the critics call and have been outstanding thus far. They are currently 6th in the Eastern Conference. I don’t think that they will be able to do anything in the playoffs this season because they will likely be matched with the Cavaliers or Bulls, but they will be a fantastic team the next few years if Parker can stay healthy.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have been probably the biggest disappointment of all because of where they sit in the Western Conference. The Thunder are sitting at 28-25 and are 9th in the West. They have been derailed by injuries to Kevin Durant, but they have not performed like everyone thought they would. They were a preseason favorite to win the West, but now they may not even get a playoff berth. Russell Westbrook has carried the team this season, and if the Thunder want to make the playoffs and make some noise, they will have to get Westbrook and Durant healthy and playing at an elite level.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were a preseason favorite to come out of the East and win it all, but they weren’t living up to those expectations early on. The Cavaliers looked dead in November and December, and everyone was blaming LeBron and Blatt for all the things that were going wrong. People thought that Blatt wasn’t the right fit for the Cavs because he and LeBron James weren’t on the same page. The Cavs front office ousted all the rumors about Blatt and James and followed suit with some key trades. The Cavs made trades for Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert, who have all been key contributors to the Cavs current success. Mozgov has given the Cavs a presence on the glass and on defense, and Smith and Shumpert bring their offensive talent. This has led to the Cavs winning 14 out of 16 games leading up to the All-Star break. LeBron James finally looks like he is playoff ready, and the teams is following his lead. The Cavaliers are still my favorite to come out of the East this season.
The first half has been crazy fun to watch and see the ups and downs, but as we part ways with this first half, we leap into the second half where playoff chances are at stake. Will teams like Atlanta and Cleveland keep their foot on the pedal, or will they crash and burn in the second half?
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