clearn.png
Sunday February 28th, 2021 11:36PM

Analysis: The NBA's East has a standings logjam to deal with

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

This is a bizarre season for the NBA in a bizarre time for the world.

Most of those who must attend the All-Star Game don’t seem particularly excited by those plans. Arenas are somewhere between almost empty and totally empty because of virus protocols. Game schedules are typically known months in advance; nobody knows what the second week of March looks like yet.

All of this is most unusual.

There is, however, one constant. The Eastern Conference standings are a mess.

Spending any time trying to figure how the East is going to shake out would be a futile undertaking, because it’s clear that the teams themselves have no idea. Miami won the East last season and has spent zero days over .500 this season. Milwaukee — the NBA’s best regular-season team in each of the past two seasons, a team with two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo — just had a streak of five consecutive losses. Every team in the East has had at least one three-game losing streak; 11 of those 15 teams have had multiple three-game slides and the season isn’t even half over.

If all that wasn’t enough, the Western Conference is dominating its friends from the other half of the league. The West is winning 57% of its games against the East. That’s on pace to be the biggest margin since the West won 58.4% in 2014-15 — and virtually assures that the West will win the regular-season series versus the East for the 21st time in the last 22 seasons. The East won four consecutive years against the West from 1995-96 through 1998-99; the only season in which the East beat the West since was 2008-09.

By now, that's to be expected.

Having only three teams better than one game above .500, two months into the season, that's the big surprise out of the East. Philadelphia (20-11) and Brooklyn (20-12) sit atop the East, and Milwaukee (18-13) is right in their shadow.

That’s where the ridiculously tight traffic jam starts, with the next 10 teams — Indiana, Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando and Washington — all within 3 1/2 games of each other.

Some offer a very simple explanation.

“I see a lot of inconsistent teams in the East,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And we’re one of them.”

That being said, there are signs that some teams are figuring it out.

Brooklyn just went 5-0 on a West road trip, playing most of those games without Kevin Durant. Toronto started 7-12; the Raptors are 9-3 since. The Bulls and the Heat have already won more games in February than they did in January. The Wizards beat the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night for a fifth consecutive victory, meaning they're 5-0 since starting 6-17. And the Knicks — this is true and amazing — have a chance at their first winning calendar month since going 8-7 in November 2017.

“We’re striving to become a 48-minute team,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who has already made a sizable impact in his first couple months in New York. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

The good news is that there’s a lot of time left.

Teams will get their second-half schedules finalized by the NBA this week. Everyone, even those going to Atlanta for the one-day All-Star events on March 7, will get a little bit of a much-needed break after a very hectic first couple months of the season. The trade deadline on March 25 will be interesting, since with the play-in tournament happening this year — and 20 teams essentially going to the postseason, even if four will be eliminated in very short order — more teams than usual will technically be in the playoff race.

Put simply, there’s a long way to go. And that means there’s plenty of time for this East logjam to break up a little.

“Anybody that can find some consistency and reliability quicker can find some separation in the standings, but right now that there is not separation,” Spoelstra said. “So, what I see is opportunity.”

___

Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds(at)ap.org

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Analysis: The NBA's East has a standings logjam to deal with
This is a bizarre season for the NBA in a bizarre time for the world
2:34AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Lam backs Hong Kong electoral changes excluding opponents
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is giving her clear support to electoral changes that would likely further exclude opposition voices and cement Beijing's control over the city's politics
2:28AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Facebook says it will lift its Australian news ban soon
Facebook says it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after reaching a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism
2:28AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Jazz set records for 3s in 132-110 rout of Hornets
Donovan Mitchell had 23 points and eight assists as the Utah Jazz enjoyed a record-breaking performance from long range in a 132-110 victory over the Charlotte Hornets
1:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Mexico receives shipment of Sputnik V vaccine
Mexico has received the first shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine
11:57PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Philippine leader won't ease virus restrictions
The Philippine president will reject recommendations to further ease coronavirus quarantine restrictions across the country until a delayed vaccination campaign kicks off
10:08PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Sports
Spurs, short-handed and reeling, get back on practice floor
The San Antonio Spurs are still dealing with a coronavirus outbreak
7:19PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin dealing with COVID-19
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is dealing with COVID-19
7:14PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: NBA's Pelicans are increasing maximum attendance
The New Orleans Pelicans are increasing maximum attendance to 2,700 fans beginning Wednesday night when they host the Detroit Pistons
5:55PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Ahmaud Arbery memorialized in Georgia a year after slaying
Few outside the Georgia port city of Brunswick paid notice in the days and weeks after Ahmaud Arbery was pursued and shot to death by white men who saw him running in their neighborhood
1:01AM ( 2 hours ago )
CDC study: Teachers key to COVID-19 infections in 1 district
A new study finds that teachers may be more important drivers of COVID-19 transmission in schools than students
6:31PM ( 8 hours ago )
Supreme Court rejects Trump election challenge cases
The Supreme Court has rejected a handful of cases related to the 2020 election, including disputes from Pennsylvania that had divided the justices just before the election
4:09PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Nets hold on to edge Clippers, win season-best 6th in a row
James Harden scored 37 points and the Brooklyn Nets held off a furious fourth-quarter rally to edge the Los Angeles Clippers 112-108 for their season-best sixth win in a row
11:56PM ( 1 day ago )
Timberwolves fire Saunders after parts of 3 seasons as coach
The Minnesota Timberwolves fired coach Ryan Saunders on Sunday night, hours after the team with the NBA’s worst record this season lost for the eighth time in the last nine games
11:47PM ( 1 day ago )
Trae Young, Clint Capela boost Hawks past Nuggets 123-115
Trae Young had 35 points and 15 assists, Clint Capela added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Denver Nuggets 123-115
11:14PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Lam backs Hong Kong electoral changes excluding opponents
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is giving her clear support to electoral changes that would likely further exclude opposition voices and cement Beijing's control over the city's politics
2:28AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Facebook says it will lift its Australian news ban soon
Facebook says it will lift its ban on Australians sharing news after reaching a deal with Australia’s government on legislation that would make digital giants pay for journalism
2:28AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Asian shares mixed amid vaccine optimism, US tech sell-off
Asian markets are mixed after a sell-off of shares in technology companies on Wall Street
2:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
Afghan peace talks resume, but path is anything but certain
Afghanistan’s warring sides have returned to the negotiation table after more than a month of delays amid hopes that the two sides could agree on a reduction of violence - and eventually, an outright ceasefire
1:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
A year on, India's riot victims say justice still unserved
As the first anniversary of bloody communal riots that convulsed the Indian capital approaches, Muslim victims are still shaken and struggling to make sense of their struggle to seek justice
1:54AM ( 1 hour ago )