Wed, Mar 10, 2021
By Jim Vassallo (Veri.bet Writer)
The NBA season resumes on Wednesday night with one game but truly gets back into action on Thursday with11 games on the schedule. All-Star Weekend was a rousing success and fans are itching for the second half of the season to get underway with a lot up for stake in both conferences.
The Eastern Conference is led right now by the Philadelphia 76ers, who hold a half-game lead over the second-place Brooklyn Nets. The Sixers are 24-12 overall, 16-3 at home, and are 6-4 in their last 10 games played.
The Nets are 24-13 overall, 13-6 at home, and are 9-1 in their last 10 games played. That 9-1 record has helped the Nets keep pace with the Sixers at the top of the conference standings. Both clubs entered the All-Star break having won two straight games.
With the Nets recently adding veteran Blake Griffin on a veteran-exemption contract for the remainder of the season, the Nets seem to be in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Conference as the second-half resumes this week.
However, don’t count out the Sixers. The Sixers are led by All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. They have role players surrounding them that have meshed this lineup into one of the most dangerous in the league.
The Nets are led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With Griffin in the fold, Brooklyn is downright scary no matter who their opponent might be on any given night.
The Sixers and Nets split their first two meetings of the season and a third, rubber match is scheduled for April 14 in what could be a playoff preview.
When it comes down to Philadelphia and Brooklyn alone, the Nets have the advantage with the addition of Griffin, but both teams could still be in the mix for additional help via the trade deadline (March 25).
Aside from the Nets and the Sixers, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics are close contenders for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Everyone knows that home-court advantage is important in the playoffs, and it will be even more important this year as many states are starting to permit fans into arenas in limited numbers.
The Bucks sit just two games back of the Sixers in the Eastern Conference and the Celtics are just five out of first. If either of these teams goes on a run and the Sixers or Nets struggle to win games, you could easily see the top of the standings shift over the final weeks of the regular season.
The Celtics finished the first half of the season on a four-game winning streak, helping them leapfrog the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat in the conference standings at the break.
Don’t be surprised if you see the Nets and Sixers bounce back and forth between the number-one and number-two spots in the Eastern Conference to finish out the season. If you are placing a bet on who finished the regular season in first place, your best choice is Brooklyn.