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Chris graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of 'nerdy' things that would embarrass his wife.

Halfway Through Hoops: 5 Things About This Year’s NBA Season

The NBA All-Star Break comes at a time that probably many of us consider to be professional sports purgatory. After all, the Superbowl just happened and spring training is right around the corner. The Finals can’t come soon enough, right? But for those of you who have been paying attention to this year’s NBA, you’re probably with me in thinking that this year has been subtly wild and unexpected. It’s hard to remember, but think back to the off-season and compare your thoughts to the actuality of the season now. While these are just my observations, I believe that the following 5 things are probably the most surprising developments at the NBAs midpoint.

Indiana Setting the Pace: While the Thunder are now the owner’s of the NBA’s best record (having played three extra games), so much of the season ’til this point has been dominated by the Indiana Pacers. It shouldn’t be a surprise given the high-level of defense being played by the Pacers, and Roy Hibbert in particular. However, I don’t believe that anyone thought that they would go into the break as dominate as this. The Pacers took the “Champs” to 7 games in a losing effort during last year’s Conference Finals; but I’m betting this year they win the rematch in 6.

Rondo

No fight in the East? (Image Credit: AP Photo: Charles Krupa)

The Mediocrity of the East: Remember the days when Chicago versus Boston was a game that you looked forward to? This year’s incarnations make that seem like a long time ago. The Eastern Conference currently has 4 teams (out of the 15!) that hold a record of above .500, and there’s a good chance that a team like New York or Detroit will get in having lost more than they’ve won. What gives? Well, there is a ton of age across the board (isn’t Kevin Garnett pushing 40?) and injuries to teams like Atlanta and Chicago haven’t helped either. But I think the real problem stems from fixture congestion. Teams are playing 4-5 times in 7 day spans, and to compete like that at a high level over the course of a season can be difficult. If your team doesn’t have the luxury of having a “Big 3-like” tandem or a deep bench (seemingly like the West), then it’ll look a lot like it does in the East. Are they right about the talent pool if the NBA does expand?

An Unexpected “Lone-Star” in Houston: How good has James Harden been this year? Well, let’s just say that besides his game, personality and overall clutch play, his beard is even taking headlines away from perennial-diva Dwight Howard. I for one am certainly not complaining. I don’t live in Orlando or L.A., but the residual noise of the transfer saga (part 1 and 2) were definitely heard over here too. Funny thing is, Houston is putting together a pretty impressive season and “Superman” isn’t the distraction that many thought he might be.

Atlanta Playing It Close: What were your expectations for the Hawks this season? I’ll tell you mine: I thought they wouldn’t have enough talent to string together 3 wins in a row. However, the Hawks are currently sitting second to the Heat in the Southeastern Division, and were it not for a run of losses over the past few outings, would also be above .500. Coach Bud is making a case for coach of the year (though Terry Stotts of Portland may take the honors) as he has changed the fundamental make up of how Atlanta plays ball. The December injury to Horford really hampered the early season excitement, but Paul Millsap has been a revelation and it’s amazing that Kyle Korver is still knocking in 3’s. If Carroll, Antic and/or Horford make it back before play-offs, don’t be surprised to see the Hawks give teams a few worries (they have already beaten Miami, Indiana and Houston).

Kevin Durant

Durant lights up the scoreboards (Image Credit: USATSI)

No Three-Peat on the Cards: While Miami may have been everyone’s pick to win the championship again, I would be very surprised if the winner doesn’t come from somewhere out in the West. There are 3 or 4 teams that are currently playing better ball than Lebron and Co (when the “and Co” are fully healthy at least). The Spurs are usually the team to emerge from the Conference, but Dallas isn’t going away, Portland is playing really well right now, The Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA and OKC might have the best player in the country in Kevin Durant (he’s putting up 30 plus points a game sans Russell Westbrook). But when you look at teams like Houston and Golden State, its hard to believe that the title won’t be heading west. I don’t even think Miami makes it into the finals this year (see above).

So what’s in store for us after the break? Will the Heat begin to assert their dominance like last year? Maybe. Will the Lakers remember what it’s like to win? Doubtful. Will the Bucks make it to 10 wins? I personally wouldn’t put money down. Find your seats courtside and stay tuned because this year’s NBA season will undoubtedly finish like no one expects!

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