With the All-Star Game right around the corner, the first half of the season is just about over. So far, this season has been full of excitement, surprises and of course, great games. One of the biggest surprises has been the play of the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks, who hold the best record in the NBA. The Hawks went undefeated for the month of January as they went 17 to zero, a new NBA record for the most wins in a month. All five starters for the Hawks (Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll) were selected to be the Eastern Conference players of the month of January; this is an NBA first. This group has been the perfect example of total team production, as the starting five averaged double figures scoring in the month of January, showing a balance of scoring throughout the team. At this point in the season, the Hawks look to continue their hot play and defend their position atop the Eastern Conference.
The debate for the best team in the Western Conference continues, but for right now the Golden State Warriors seem to have the upper hand as they hold the best record among Western teams. As usual, the West is stockpiled with great teams who are all chasing a spot in the playoffs. It will be tough to take down the Warriors, as both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, also known as “The Splash Brothers,” lead them. Both guards are averaging over 20 points per game and shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line. The Warriors are doing great under new Head Coach Steve Kerr, as they have transitioned well into a new system that consists of pushing the ball and passing it more often. As the season progresses, teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets will chase the Warriors and look to take control of the West.
With every season, comes unfortunate injuries, and this season is no different. Many have been sidelined due to on-court incidents, most notably the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who has injured his shoulder and will be done for the remainder of the season. Highly-coveted rookie Jabari Parker of the Milwaukee Bucks, the favorite to win Rookie of the Year coming into the season, also went down early when he tore his ACL. The list goes on and on, but with every injury, an opportunity arises for players on their respective teams to step up.
Trade rumors always circulate throughout the league, but many of those speculations became reality this season. The Boston Celtics made a tough decision by letting go of their star point guard Rajon Rondo and sending him to the Dallas Mavericks, where he has fit in just right. Another big trade was the acquisition of J.R. Smith by the Cleveland Cavaliers from the New York Knicks. Austin Rivers may not be a big name, but with his trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, he became the first NBA player to play under his own father, Head Coach Doc Rivers. The trade deadline is on Thursday, Feb. 19, so don’t be shocked if you see more trades.
At this point of the season, the play of both James Harden and Curry has been incredible, as they lead the MVP race thus far in this season. Harden leads the league in scoring and has become the leader of his Houston Rockets after years of working toward it. He has led his team to a top three seed in the West and looks to continue his great play for a playoff push. Just as Harden has been productive, the same can be said for Curry, as he continues to produce in many aspects on a daily basis.
If you thought all the attention New York gets is crazy, wait until All-Star Weekend. This year’s All-Star Game will take place in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. The other All-Star events, like the slam dunk contest and Three-Point Contest, will be held in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. All-Star Weekend will begin on Friday, Feb. 13, so don’t miss the show.