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It is officially the 2019 NBA All-Star break following the conclusion of Thursday’s games, and there is one surprise and one old standby atop the conference standings.
The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference at 41-16, but the Eastern Conference’s Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the entire league at 43-14.
Here is a look at the full standings:
1. Golden State Warriors, 41-16
2. Denver Nuggets, 39-18
3. Oklahoma City Thunder, 37-20
4. Portland Trail Blazers, 34-23
5. Houston Rockets, 33-24
6. Utah Jazz, 32-25
7. San Antonio Spurs, 33-26
8. Los Angeles Clippers, 32-27
9. Sacramento Kings, 30-27
10. Los Angeles Lakers, 28-29
11. Minnesota Timberwolves, 27-30
12. Dallas Mavericks, 26-31
13. New Orleans Pelicans, 26-33
14. Memphis Grizzlies, 23-36
15. Phoenix Suns, 11-48
1.Milwaukee Bucks, 43-14
2. Toronto Raptors, 43-16
3. Indiana Pacers, 38-20
4. Boston Celtics, 37-21
5. Philadelphia 76ers, 37-21
6. Brooklyn Nets, 30-29
7. Charlotte Hornets, 27-30
8. Detroit Pistons, 26-30
9. Miami Heat, 26-30
10. Orlando Magic, 27-32
11. Washington Wizards, 24-34
12. Atlanta Hawks, 19-39
13. Chicago Bulls, 14-44
14. Cleveland Cavaliers, 12-46
15. New York Knicks, 11-47
There is no shortage of storylines in either conference ahead of the season’s stretch run.
The ever-looming question of whether anyone can take down the mighty Warriors serves as the backdrop for the West, as the Rockets look to establish more consistency after coming a game short of the NBA Finals last season. There is also the question of whether James Harden can win back-to-back MVPs after scoring 30 or more points in 31 straight games.
Elsewhere, LeBron James may not even make the playoffs in his first season on the Los Angeles Lakers following eight straight trips to the NBA Finals in the East.
There is also Luka Doncic’s continued ascension toward the Rookie of the Year for the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans’ awkward situation after Anthony Davis’ trade request.
In the East, the absence of James sets the stage for a dramatic postseason featuring the Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an MVP contender as well and has the Bucks positioned to win their first playoff series since the 2000-01 season. They will have to contend with a deep Celtics team looking for more consistency and a 76ers squad that will try to assimilate its loaded starting lineup after trading for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to go with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
There are even intriguing tank wars between the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks on the bottom of the standings with Duke’s Zion Williamson as the ultimate prize.
Perhaps whatever team lands him can be atop the standings at next year’s All-Star break.