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WHAT NEXT FOR THE NBA AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK

Traditionally, the All-Star break marks the midway point of the season in the NBA. With a pandemic breathing caution and stringent protocols down the neck of players, franchises, and the board, the general feeling is that it has been a good season so far, all things considered. Light now shines at the end of the tunnel, as the vaccines bring a glimmer of hope to organisations and fans, and most especially the players, who feed off the energy fans bring to the arenas. It may take some getting used to again, but a birdie tells me players would welcome the familiarisation process with open arms. The real business starts now, as a shortened season means there is no time to feel out the opponent; there is only securing a playoff berth or playing for a high draft pick. Fans will find updated team performances on power rankings, but the best chances and what you need to know going forward will be at us-bookies.com, as the season kicks off again this week.

If the ASG and weekend told us anything, it is that the players are as determined as ever to etch their names in greatness, and the biggest stars have more than a rabbit in their hats. Sure it was a showcase, but that is exactly what players like Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry did, exhibiting unlimited shooting range. At the same time, Giannis Antetokunmpo went a perfect 16/16 FG from the field, and Zion Williamson showed he could adapt to the biggest stage. The pandemic may have had a hold on the players' minds going into the season, but as they get comfortable in it, expect the performances to go up a notch. The season resumes as early as Wednesday, and the Suns, Jazz, and Brooklyn Nets will be looking to continue their solid play from just before the break. The Nets are far and wide the most stacked team in the league, and having recently added Blake Griffin, may just be bursting at the seams with options. Funny enough, the team still has something lacking in terms of size, a problem the Jazz, Lakers, and Clippers, three teams that could be a potential finals opponent, do not have. In the East, the Nets will have to worry about Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

The Cameroonian is the frontrunner for MVP and the 76ers look to be a more solid team under Doc Rivers. The New York Knicks are have a Cinderella year and making the playoffs will be a victory in every sense of the word. In the West, the Suns and Jazz are looking to spoil what was supposed to be the promised Lakers versus Clippers reunion that was thwarted last season. Beyond the top two spots, the competition is stiff, and no room for error is allowed. The Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets have not had the kind of season their bubble runs promised, and the Warriors have shown they can be more of they can find consistency.