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A month ‘til All-Star: Pick a contender due for a surge. Who’s due to slip?
After not having the best start to 2014, I can see the Heat having a surge between now and the All Star break. They're too good to continue losing so don't be surprised if they go on a streak. LeBron James is shooting 59 percent from the field but is only attempting 16 shots a game, four down from his career average. I can see him getting up more shots in the future so look out. And as well as they've played so far, there have been some little signs that Portland may be due for a little slip. I don't see it being a catastrophic slide, but they may begin to lose a few more games as we near the All-Star break and potentially losing their second seed in the West.
The Clippers are the obvious candidate for a slippage, since they're missing Chris Paul and their schedule gets a little rougher now, with seven straight games on the road (yes, mostly against the same competition Golden State erased on their 10-game winning streak, but still). As for the contender on the come-up, Houston has a chance to really get it going in this next month. They play nine of their next 14 at home until the break, and their hardest hurdle on the road is Dallas. With James Harden apparently back to early season form and Dwight Howard clicking, they could string together some wins and start threatening for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
The Warriors have been playing great lately and I think this might continue with Curry, Iguodala and Bogut all healthy. OKC might slip a little. The Thunder have had to heavily rely on KD in hopes of compensating for the missing Westbrook. Sooner or later this will come back to haunt them.
I don’t know if you can count even better play from the best team in the league, the Indiana Pacers, as a surge, but I don’t see them losing too many between now and All-Star 2014. The Pacers play nine of their next 16 games at home, where they have been an enviable 19-1 record this season. Alternately, I see the OKC Thunder, without Russell Westbrook, continuing to slip as they take on Houston, Golden State, Portland, San Antonio, Miami and Brooklyn before the break.
I don't yet believe Russell Westbrook is the best PG in the Nba, but he sure is a clutch player for OKC. Without him, I'm afraid the Thunder are on the way to few losses before the All-Star Game. For now, coach Brooks does not have so many options offensively. KD is a bit lonely, and opponents will be able to adjust. Serge Ibaka and especially Jeremy Lamb will need to further raise their games. And it does not look like Reggie Jackson is quite ready to slide in and make a star impact. On the other hand I see Golden State getting hot once again before the break.
Indiana will surge after learning that their coaching staff will handle the Eastern Conference team in the All-Star Weekend. They will try to take the best record into the break to help send a couple of Pacers to the prestigious event, too. Portland will fall back down to mortality after a scintillating start to the season, as teams will start to prepare for them better and they will not sneak up on anybody as the season goes along.