The NBA has intense playoff picture that is starting to clear up in both conferences. Teams desperate to make a postseason splash, like the Nets and Lakers, are hanging onto the No. 8 seed in their respective conferences with plenty of pressure on a daily basis.
And at the top of the league, the Raptors, Bucks, Nuggets, Warriors and Thunder all jockey for the No. 1 seed in their respective conferences.
James Harden continued his scoring onslaught to get the Rockets closer to home court advantage in the first round of the postseason. He is putting up over 33 points a night while leading the league’s most explosive 3-point attack.
Elsewhere around the league, the the trade market is heating up as the February trade deadline approaches.
The Bulls moved Justin Holiday to the Grizzlies for a few second round picks, before trading for and waiving Michael-Carter Williams for some financial savings.
Look for bigger trades to start to take shape as it becomes more and more clear which teams that started the year with playoff hopes are headed for the lottery (looking at you Wizards).
As the Lakers await LeBron James’ return from a groin injury, look for them to make small maneuvers to add depth, while keeping a watchful eye over Anthony Davis and the Pelicans slow descent in the standings. L.A. has only won 2 of their 7 games since James went down, and if the Lakers struggle too much in their national TV games against the Pistons and Jazz this week, we could see James return to a very different Lakers team around late January (assuming he returns ahead of their date with the Warriors on the 21st of January).
This week the Bucks gear up for a tough intra-conference matchup against the Rockets, and the woeful Southeastern division–where the best team has a record of 19-20—plays some tough competition that should help clear up the standings.
Take a look at how all 30 teams in the league stack up in our latest NBA Power Rankings update right here.