Blogtable: Bold prediction for second half of 2018-19 season?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
From NBA.com Staff
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What’s your one bold prediction as we enter the second half of the season?
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Steve Aschburner: The Toronto Raptors are going to make a big move at the February trading deadline (Feb. 7). Not sure who, not sure how, but hoops president Masai Ujiri needs to upgrade his team not just for the coming Eastern Conference stretch drive and early playoff rounds but to further try to persuade Kawhi Leonard he can find long-term happiness with They The North. Currently, there’s a grimness to the Raptors season — even the victories move them incrementally closer to the day most expect Leonard to leave. That’s the opposite of the joy this team should be feeling, and it’s only going to get worse as the days tick by. The Finals is a realistic target but it’s hard to play your best basketball with one eye locked on the calendar.
Tas Melas: I can’t make just one. 1. The Lakers don’t make a trade before the deadline. 2. The Pistons miss out on the playoffs. 3. Brook Lopez wins the 3-Point Contest.
Shaun Powell: LeBron James will suffer through a series of nagging injuries after healing from his sore groin, the Lakers will miss the playoffs and Luke Walton will take the hit. Well, you said “bold” prediction, right? This is pretty bold, considering LeBron almost never gets hurt, but Father Time works in mysterious ways and until now has adopted a hands-off approach to the game’s greatest player. At some point, though, the bill comes due for all that mileage on the body.
John Schuhmann: Either the Los Angeles Lakers or San Antonio Spurs would miss the playoffs, meaning that either LeBron James’ streak of 13 straight trips or the Spurs’ streak of 21 straight trips to the postseason is coming to an end. (I’m not sure I actually believe this, but you asked for something “bold.”) The Utah Jazz have (with the exception of their game in Milwaukee on Monday) been defending like they did in the second half of last season and, with the league’s most home-heavy second-half schedule (25 of 41 games at Vivint Smart Home Arena), are primed to move up from ninth place in the Western Conference. The Spurs have been on fire, but have benefited from a home-heavy stretch over the last month and are still just 7-12 on the road after their win in Detroit on Monday. The Lakers, meanwhile, are just two games ahead of the Jazz for eighth place. They’re heavily dependent on a guy that’s currently injured, and could be without him when they play in Utah on Friday.
Sekou Smith: I love the shock value of a bold prediction this time of year. It comes with so much season to play that only a few petty and meticulous of you will remember it and throw in my face months from now (if I’m wrong). So after four glorious years of going back and forth between the Bay Area and Cleveland for The Finals, we’re getting two new locations this season (we knew the Cleveland leg of the trip was going to change). Oklahoma City, Houston, Denver and Los Angeles all qualify for the preliminary list of alternative Western Conference possibilities. And no, I’m not knocking the Golden State Warriors. I understand exactly who and what they are at their very best. This is simply an acknowledgement of how difficult it is for any team, even an all-time great one, to make five straight trips to the promised land.
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