Fade 'Em, Back 'Em (NBA Second Half)

AAA Sports | Feb 18, 2018 | ARCHIVE

New Orleans Pelicans – Lots to play for down in the bayou as the Pelicans gear up for a 25-game sprint that will determine much about the future of the franchise. Anthony Davis is getting surprising help from the backcourt (Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo) as NO hopes to show enough to keep free agent DeMarcus Cousins and add to its core by showing well in the playoffs. They emerge from the All-Star Game with five of six on the road. Still, arrow up.

Toronto Raptors – Who’s hotter than the Raptors (seven straight wins), who have taken advantage of slumps by Cleveland and Boston to take charge in the Eastern Conference? The No. 1 seed is theirs for the taking, and they don’t play a powerful team on the road for the next month (until March 21, at Cleveland). If Toronto stays hot, a three-game trifecta March 31-April 3 (at Boston, at Cleveland, home against Boston) could put away the conference. Arrow up.

Oklahoma City Thunder – OKC has been a lousy (25-34) cover team so far, but it appears to have things under control after a rough start. Plus, the team has received a boost since comments by free agent-to-be Paul George that hint that he wants to remain beyond this season. The Thunder are on the 4/5 bubble, and have plenty to play for with home court expected to play a huge role in the West come late April. Arrow up.

Boston Celtics – Boston was probably not as good as its 16-game winning streak early in the season and not as bad as it’s shown since returning from London. But there are two problems that have sprung up – offense and defense. The bench has been anemic offensively, and a defense that was once the best in the league looks run down of late. The new-look Cavs are closing fast. Arrow down.

Phoenix Suns – Twelve losses in the last 13 games entering the break spell T-A-N-K, and the Suns are embracing the concept with vigor. The Suns are in a dogfight with several other teams for the league’s worst record. Don’t be surprised if Devin Booker comes down with the flu or an ailing back if things are still tight late in the season. Arrow way down.

Atlanta Hawks – It’ll be interesting to see what kind of lineups the also-tanking Hawks put on the floor the rest of the way. How many times will they cover during this six-games-in-12-days all-road stretch that starts march 18 – Milwaukee, Utah, Sacramento, Golden State, Houston, Minnesota? Arrow also way down.

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