Originally posted on BlackSportsOnline  |  Last updated 2/6/13
With teams like the Celtics and Lakers finally showing true signs of life, the second half of the season will undoubtedly be a race to the finish. Chris Paul’s injury has Clippers fans concerned, and the recent absence of Blake Griffin has folks murmuring the phrase “Clipper-Curse” yet again. While I think it is a bit early for that type of talk, there is true cause for concern in Lob-City. #1 San Antonio Spurs 38-11 (Last week- 1): It never ceases to amaze me when I hear the phrase “Man, the Spurs are BORRRRING” uttered. If maintaining a level of dominance and success paralleled by few teams in the league, then I’ll take it. Anyhow, off the soapbox, and the Spurs have rattled off 10-consecutive wins. Their annual “Rodeo Trip” kicks off tonight. They’ll be on the road for the next nine games (18 days), and the scary thing is this is the trip where the Spurs normally get things going. #2 Oklahoma City Thunder 36-12 (2): After starting their most recent stretch off by stringing together 5-straight road victories. They haven’t won back-to-back games since January 18th. No need to panic, as these are the equivalent of the “dog days” of a long 82-game season. Seven of the next 11 opponents are (current) playoff teams. #3 Miami Heat 31-14 (3): Following an up and down road trip that ended well, the Heat will now spend the next week in the comfy confines of American Airlines Arena. Three Western Conference opponents should pose a challenge, as the hot-shooting Rockets,  scrapping Clippers, and suddenly resurgent Lakers roll into town to close out the week. #4 Denver Nuggets 31-18 (5): Outside of winning their last seven games, the Nuggets have won 13 of 15 since January 4th. Meaning, outside of the Spurs, the Nuggets may be the hottest team in the league. After hosting on Thursday, the Nuggets play six of eight on the East Coast. Danilo Gallinari remains hot, as he is still shooting over 50% (.514) and nearly 44% from behind the arc. #5 New York Knicks 31-15 (8): The Knicks may not be able to beat the Nets and Bulls, but they haven’t had much trouble with the rest of the league. Now that they’re healthy and we’re in the second half of the season, it is time to watch that race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Much of the attention has (deservedly) been on Carmelo, but Stoudemire’s hot shooting and Chandler’s 3-consecutive 20-rebound games should not go unnoticed. #6 Golden State Warriors 30-19 (10): Most of us were hesitant to “crown” the Warriors even following their surprisingly fast start. Not only have coach Mark Jackson’s team maintained it, but they are actually 4-1 since the return of C Andrew Bogut. Five of their next seven are against fellow (current) Western Conference playoff foes. #7 Los Angeles Clippers 34-16 (4): If anyone wants to question my placing Chris Paul at the top of my list of MVP candidates a couple weeks back, please feel free to provide that argument, now. It was universally accepted that the Clippers were the deepest team in the league, or at the very least in the discussion. Paul has missed the past eight games, and the Clippers have lost six of them. Their fast start keeps them in the mix, but they could definitely use a strong finish to their “Grammy Trip.” #8  Indiana Pacers 30-19 (N/A): The return of a David West we haven’t seen for years and the emergence of Paul George have Pacers fans feeling positively about their chances if they were to get another shot at the Heat in the playoffs. Coach Frank Vogel has a talented bunch of guys that seem to have completely bought in to his tough, defense-oriented philosophy. 15-straight at home is nothing to sneeze at, either. #9 Chicago Bulls 29-19 (7): The Bulls have been treading water for the past 10 days, as both Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng have been fighting through various injuries. With news of Derrick Rose being (reportedly) just weeks away from returning, that’s all they really need to do. Jimmy Butler may be improving, but conventional wisdom still says they could use another offensive weapon (say, Caron Butler…rumored to be available) to truly contend once the postseason arrives. #10 Memphis Grizzlies 30-17 (6): While the Rudy Gay trade may have confused me, the Grizzlies are still a very talented team. Jerryd Bayless’ recent hot streak has been a welcomed surprise. Don’t forget about Ed Davis as a part of that deal. For those that didn’t watch many Toronto Raptors games, Davis is a talented grinder, and seemingly could be the perfect fit for Coach Lionel Hollins’ system.  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Blake Griffin opts out of contract to become free agent

Report: Wolves targeting Kyle Lowry, Jrue Holiday, other point guards in free agency

Conor McGregor’s coach says tentative plans include a return to UFC in 2017

Report: Mets open for business on the trade market

Markelle Fultz believes the Sixers are already a playoff team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Jimmy Butler’s attitude toward Fred Hoiberg made players ‘uncomfortable’

St. Louis Cardinals to hold first LGBTQ Pride Night

John Mara: Extending Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t team’s No. 1 priority

Mike Trout reportedly wanted to sign ‘lifetime deal’ with Angels

Blackhawks, Blue Jackets swap Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad

Matt Forte expected to be ‘offensive workhorse’ for Jets?

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

Box Score 6/23: Philly continues to trust the process

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Gary Payton Award for best trash talk of the year

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Kicking it: David Villa isn't interested in a 'retirement tour'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

The 'NBA Draft going back to school?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker