Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
There are only a handful of teams in the Eastern Conference that can actually contend for a title like the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and arguably the best team in the league in the Cleveland Cavaliers, but as we get closer and closer to playoff time in the second half of the NBA regular season some teams are starting to lose their grip on division leads.
As of right now it is pretty obvious which teams look title contender it on their way to the playoffs in both conferences, but what is uncertain it will be most likely uncertain only up to the end of the regular season will be seeding of these teams and who will the division titles throughout the league.
The closest divisional races in the league right now are the Southeast division in the Eastern Conference with the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic battling it out for the top spot as originally four games the divide the teams. The Hawks have played brilliantly this season and have really become a much better team with the addition of Jamal Crawford and the squad coming together with some much needed team chemistry. The Magic on the other hand are playing at a high level as well right now and are starting to look like the team was able to make it to the NBA Finals last season. In the end, I believe the Magic will come out on top, but the Hawks will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
The Northwest division in the West has the Utah Jazz quickly gaining ground on the Denver Nuggets being only two games behind Carmelo Anthony and company. At the beginning of the season it was very uncertain whether or not Jerry Sloan’s squad could compete with the best in the West, but as the season has progressed is becoming more and more evident that they are amongst the best teams in the league and might be one of the teams to keep your eye on in the postseason.
The Southwest division is arguably the most competitive division in the NBA with every single team in the division being a legitimate playoff team, but the Dallas Mavericks been red hot and leading the division with a 5 1/2 game lead winning their last 13 games in a row. The San Antonio Spurs are in second place as of right now, but with all their experience in these kind of situations they could quite possibly make a push for the top spot in the division before the regular season comes to a close.
The one division of all divisions in the NBA doesn’t get much attention due to the fact that the Boston Celtics seem to run away with it ever since Kevin Garnett came to town, is the Atlantic division which has some of the worst teams in the league with the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and quite possibly the worst NBA team of all-time in the New Jersey Nets will only one seven games this entire season.
As usual, the Boston Celtics are leading the way in the Atlantic division with a 41-23 record, but the Toronto Raptors are slowly creeping up the standings and could very well challenge the Boston Celtics the top spot in the division if they can get hot in the second half of the regular season.
In all likelihood the Boston Celtics will run away with the division once again, but I wouldn’t count out the Toronto Raptors as they have played well at times this season and are capable of making a run for the Atlantic division title.