The biggest NBA storylines to watch during the stretch run of the regular season

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Hey! You made it through NBA All-Star Weekend, and the subsequent several-day break in NBA-related activities!

(Well, non-“franchise in tumult fires its head coach, franchise in ascent retains its stabilizing agent, and players cut wrestling promos on each other over a head coach who was supposed to be a stabilizing agent for a franchise that just might be in tumult” NBA-related activities, anyway. Man. For a Monday and Tuesday with no games, that was a pretty busy couple of days!)

How do we celebrate this momentous achievement? Commissioner Silver, would you like to do the honors?

With Adam’s enthusiastic wind in our sails, a song in our hearts and a pep in our step, let us turn now to the NBA’s annual sprint to the finish line. Just over seven weeks separate Thursday’s resumption of play from the end of the 2023-24 NBA regular season, and there’s still plenty to figure out.

Let’s set the table for the stretch run by highlighting some of the most important things to keep an eye on between now and mid-April, starting with the biggest-ticket item of them all:

Who’s got the best shot of winning the 2024 NBA championship?

That’d be the Celtics, owners of a six-game cushion atop the East and a four-game edge over the best in the West — and thus looking like a near-certainty to have home-court advantage in every playoff series they enter.

Led by the NBA’s most fearsome top six — perennial MVP candidate Jayson Tatum, All-Star swingman Jaylen Brown, advanced stats darling Derrick White, stalwart big man Al Horford, perfect-fit offseason additions Kristaps Porziņģis and Jrue Holiday — Boston sprinted out of the gates, going a league-best 26-6 in 2023. The Celtics outscored opponents by more than 11 points per 100 non-garbage-time possessions in that span; that would’ve been the second-highest net rating of any team since the peak Kevin Durant-era Warriors. (Hey there, 2020-21 Jazz!) They cooled off a bit once the calendar flipped — three home losses in 31 days? For shame! — but headed into the All-Star break on a six-game heater, capped by a 50-point demolition of the Nets that marked the…

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Publish date : 2024-02-22 13:40:12

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