We are now officially in the second half of the NBA season after the NBA’s incredibly successful all-star game. This year, The NBA tweaked the format of its all-star game, with the final quarter being played only to 24 points-no time limit. With this change, brought something that fans are not accustomed to seeing in the all-star game: Defense. Heading into the final stretch of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks lead the NBA with the best record at 46-8. Despite the departure of star forward Kawhi Leonard, the Toronto Raptors continue to build on their success from last season with a 40-15 record, putting them second in the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Indianapolis Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, and the Orlando Magic round out the top-eight spots in the Eastern Conference. Future Hall of Famer LeBron James has led his Los Angeles Lakers squad to the top spot in the Western Conference with a 41-12 record. James averages a league-leading 10.8 assists per night. The Denver Nuggets are second in the west, just four games behind the Lakers, with a record of 38-17. The Clippers, Jazz and Rockets are just behind the Nuggets and perhaps the most surprising story of this NBA season, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in sixth place in the Western Conference. Many expected the Thunder to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, but the emergence of point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has led the Thunder to earn a 33-22 record. The league’s worst team this season is the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have had a major downfall from one of the NBA’s greatest dynasties to a team that has only won twelve games at the all-star break. The team has suffered from the injuries of star guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. However, the two are expected to play in the second half of the season, barring any major setbacks in their recovery processes. The leading scorers in this year’s NBA season are James Harden, averaging 35.3 points per game, and Giannis Antetokounmpo who is averaging 30 points per game this season. As mentioned earlier, Lebron James leads the league in assists, however, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young is not too far behind, averaging roughly nine assists per game. NBA gameplay will resume on February 20th, and the playoffs will begin roughly two months later, on April 18th.
By Tanay Desai