Five teams who should be better in second half
5. Portland Trail Blazers
They have been one of the feel-good stories this season, fighting for a playoff berth in the always-competitive Western Conference just months removed from their franchise player LaMarcus Aldridge taking his talents to San Antonio. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have emerged as a devastating 1-2 punch in the backcourt that’s getting better and better every game. Throw in the fact that Portland’s strength of schedule ranks in the bottom-10 of the league, the table is set for a strong finish by the Blazers that might be just enough to get them in the postseason.
4. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are a .500 team which is where a team that has been up and down all season, should be. They have an opportunity to really gain better footing for that eighth and final playoff spot with four of their first five opponents being below-.500 teams. And the one team that would have likely knocked them out of the playoffs, Charlotte, continues to be decimated by injuries that will factor heavily them fading back into the NBA lottery.
3. Boston Celtics
They have the third-best record in the East despite a slew of games in which they have not played their best basketball yet still managed to come out on top. With key players like Marcus Smart getting healthy and Isaiah Thomas becoming a more efficient and effective playmaker, the Celtics have reason to be optimistic at repeating their strong showing after the all-star break last season which saw them finish with the seventh-best record (20-11) after the break after a 20-31 record before the break which was 20th-best record in the East at that time.
2. Los Angeles Clippers
Golden State and San Antonio have been so dominant this season, it’s easy to overlook the Clippers who have been the next best team for much of this season. Of course Blake Griffin’s injury has been a huge blow to the team, but to their credit they have managed to still win at a high level. His return for the home stretch of the season could make the Clippers a very dangerous club once the postseason arrives.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
They have been one of the bigger disappointments this season, but a lot of that has to do with their youth and injuries. Fortunately for them, key players are getting healthy and maybe just as important, they will spend a lot of time at home. In fact, the Bucks have played just 24 games at home this season which is fewer than any other team in the league.