The NFL playoffs are nearing their conclusion (the Super Bowl is only two weeks away) and have rightfully been dominating sports headlines. This weekend the Patriots play the Steelers for the AFC championship and the Rams battle the Eagles for the NFC crown (Packers and Bears fans are going to have to wait until next year). Over in the NBA however, strange events have been taking place.The basketball season is just shy of its halfway point and the New Jersey Nets stand atop the Eastern Conference. No, that isn’t a typo. The Nets are 28-13, giving them a game and a half lead over the Bucks. The Nets won only 26 games all of last season. Can you say Jason Kidd?
The Western Conference is throwing up its own set of surprises this season too. The Sacramento Kings has the best record in the league at 31-10 and have won 12 of their last 13 games. Mike Bibby has proved to be the stabilizing, consistent influence the Kings needed at the point, but were never going to get from Jason Williams. The Timberwolves (surprise, surprise) are a half game behind the Kings with the defending champion Lakers a further game behind. The Spurs are down in fifth, behind the Mavericks who have just gone 8-2 in-spite of their second leading scorer Michael Finley being out with an injury.
At the other end of the scale, perennial playoff teams like the Knicks (lost 8 in a row), the Heat (14-26), and the Blazers (21-20), are languishing near or at the bottom of their respective conferences. The defending eastern conference champions, the 76ers, are under .500 (20-21) and down in seventh place themselves.
Whether the conference pictures remain the same over the second half of the season remains to be seen, but thus far it’s definitely been one of the most entertaining and unexpected seasons in recent memory. Even the Clippers are at .500 (21-21). Who would have bet on that before the season started?