NBA surprises heading into the All-Star Break

Image: Washington Post

The All-Star break does not completely split the season in half. In terms of games. We are past the midpoint, but it is still a good opportunity to take a look back on what we have seen so far this year.

Here are some of the more interesting storylines that have stood out to me so far this season, presented as song titles for a little extra spice.

(Note: I am very surprised by the Lakers, but not including them in this post because that topic has been discussed enough):

Empire State of Mind: Everyone expected an improved Nets team this year. With the move to Brooklyn and the fancy new place to play, this team was ready to return to relevance. I am not sure how many people thought they would be in the top half of Eastern Conference playoff teams, but there they are, sitting at the four seed.

The New York Knicks are much more of a surprise. I doubt anyone had them just a few games behind the Miami Heat for top spot in the East at the break.

Could we see these two teams meet in the playoffs for a new page in Big Apple rivalries? I am truly hoping so. I would love to see New York fans divided on this one. I can only assume David Stern is hoping the same thing.

Rocky Mountain High: Places you do not want to play this season: Miami, San Antonio…. Denver? Do not look now but the Nuggets are 22-3 at home, with wins over the top four teams in the Western Conference.

Their road record (11-18) leaves a lot to be desired, but in a seven-game playoff series, if you can win 95 percent of your home games, that is going to put you in a great position. With one of the most prolific offenses in the NBA, I am sure no one wants to run into the Denver Nuggets this postseason.

Image: SB NationKiss from a Rose: I do not think anyone is going to argue that the Chicago Bulls are a better team without Derrick Rose, but their performance without him has been inspired.

As far as I know, the Bulls are still expecting Rose to return this season, so all they had to do was tread water until he returned. They are doing a lot more than that, sitting at 8 games over .500 and the fifth seed in the East.

Assuming Rose can return to form once he is back on the court, the Bulls are going to be a tough team to contend with.

Free fallin’: The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title less than two years ago. The Minnesota Timberwolves were on track to become one of the top teams in the West.

So what happened?

Both teams have their excuses to make. The Mavericks missed out on landing any of their All-Star targets and instead have been left with a team of over-the-hill veterans. The Timberwolves are arguably the NBA’s most injured team, plus their coach has been dealing with personal issues.

No matter what the reason, these two teams have truly fallen off the radar. For the Mavericks, their owner is so dedicated to winning that I am sure he will find a way to get his team back to the top eventually.

For the Timberwolves, returning to less than mediocre could cost them their franchise player. Kevin Love has said that he did not want to stick around on a non-contender. And even if his injury problems are part of the reason why the T-Wolves stink, he has definitely found an excuse to leave.

There are plenty of other storylines that stick out from this NBA season, but these were a few of my favorites (and the ones I could easily think of song titles for). I truly think we’re in for an outstanding second half and an amazing postseason.

Stay tuned.

Images: Washington Post and SB Nation