1. The Trade Deadline
* Will the Mavericks add a player in an attempt to make a run at the Spurs or Lakers?
* Will injury-riddled Boston add a player in case Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West, Marquis Daniels, etc aren’t healthy for the playoffs?
* What are the chances the Thunder beef up the interior with an acquisition of Nene or Marcus Camby, or someone of that caliber?
* Will a contender make a run at OJ Mayo?
* Will Chicago attempt to bolster its bench?
2. Those Fading 2-Time Defending Champion LA Lakers
Currently 3rd in the West, the Lakers would need to leap Dallas just to have homecourt advantage in the 2nd round. Phil’s pissed. Ron wants out. Kobe’s aging. They still have two against San Antonio, two against Dallas, and two against Oklahoma City, and going 4-2 would probably instill some confidence for the postseason. Going 2-4, less so (although the numbers say it may not matter!).
3. Boston’s Last Hurrah?
Pierce is 33, KG is 34, and Allen is 35. Their minutes are all up by just one from last year. That trio has played 40 playoff games in the last two years … can they handle another 25? I thought last year would be their swan song, but they rallied in the playoffs to reach the Finals, losing in game seven to the Lakers.
Through 50 games, the Celtics have, without question, looked like the best team in the league. More good news: the remaining schedule is rather easy. Their next 13 games aren’t against any of the top four teams in each conference. They really only have three tough road games left (Spurs, Bulls, Heat). I’d be surprised if the Celtics don’t get home court advantage in the playoffs. They’re 20-5 at home, tied for 3rd best in the league (Spurs, Bulls).
Perkins is a free agent after the season. Glen Davis will probably sign elsewhere, too. Expect some changes in the offseason.
4. If Dwight Howard and the Magic Don’t Get to the Finals, His Future in Disney …
… is probably in jeopardy. The Magic have done everything they can do keep him and Florida is an extremely favorable state for athletes for tax purposes. But … the Lakers are a logical fit, as Howard’s a showman who appears like the type who would gravitate to Hollywood. LA will be looking for young talent with Kobe & Gasol aging … could they possibly make a run at Chris Paul and Howard? Or what if Deron Williams convinces Howard to go to New Jersey/Brooklyn and play with him? If you’re an Orlando fan, you have to hope for a return to the Finals or at the least, the Eastern Conference finals.
5. Enjoy the NBA while it lasts – here’s comes the lockout!
Sorry, it’s coming. So lap up the next five months of the NBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2011-2012 season was cut in half.