The NBA All Star weekend is over and the second half of the 2013-2014 season has kicked off. The push towards obtaining a playoff position is going to pick up as teams who are sitting on the outside look to run down the lower seeds in the Western and Eastern Conferences. Looking at the way things have played out in the first half of the season, here are some stories to watch now that players and teams can get back to real action:
Who's Going To Pick Up Who?
Across all major sports the trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the year. Teams hesitate to pull the trigger on big moves that can revitalize or crush their hopes of making a late season push. There are a number of names that sit on the rumor list every year. In 2014 key role players such as Jason Terry, Jarrett Jack and Jordan Hill are just a few of the names that could be moved before the February 20th deadline. Many playoff hopeful teams, especially in the Eastern Conference, have holes in their roster that need to be filled if they are supposed to be taken seriously in the post season. This story is one of the most important at this point of the year as it has the potential to have the most immediate and long term impact of those involved.
Will Indiana and Oklahoma Overtake Miami?
The Miami Heat came into this season under the pressure of earning a “three-peat” and appearing in their fourth straight NBA Finals. It's clear that the team isn't playing up to the same level that they have in the past, but they've still solidified themselves as one of the elite teams in the league. But 2013 has been the year that the questions have come the hardest. Both the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder are putting on performances that have left them as the front runners for the 2014 NBA Finals. The Heat are in danger of losing their important home court advantage, which is a vital part of putting together a championship run. Watching the Thunder and Pacers race to overtake Miami is another captivating story for the rest of this year.
What Teams Will Start Rebuilding First
While there are some teams that are looking to make a playoff push during this year, there are others who are on the cusp of “shutting things down” this season if the organization can't turn a corner. For example, the New York Knicks are in a position where they need a lot of help across their roster but they don't have the cap room or draft picks to make any changes in the future. They could make some moves to remedy their situation, but they would hamper their chances of any late season success this year. The Denver Nuggets are in a similar situation as a team that was expected to perform much better but find themselves on the losing side of being .500. The personalities in leadership have decisions to make when it comes to the future of their organizations and this is the time of the year when those choices are made.
At this point in 2014 the action in the National Basketball Association has been captivating as some teams have fallen from grace as others have risen above the expectations that have been placed on them. Even still, these stories are just a short list of what fans and experts should watch for in the second half of the season.