Jeremy Bauman: Andrew Bynum’s return in Philly is a never-ending guess, and the 76ers are four games back of Milwaukee for the eighth seed. Toronto (21-32) is six games back) has a chance given its resurgence with Rudy Gay. The Raptors enter the All-Star Break on a four-game winning streak.
Detroit (21-33) is 6 1/2 games back and just lost Andre Drummond for a while, if not the rest of the season. After that, there’s really no hope for teams in the East.
In the West, you have the Lakers sitting just 2 1/2 games behind Houston, so you have to consider them in this discussion. Portland is three games back but is riding a five-game skid.
Neither of these teams will have a cake walk, but I think the Lakers have the best chance.
Maxwell Ogden: With the star power the Lakers possess, they are the favorite to make it in – even with Pau Gasol sidelined.
That said, don’t sleep on the Raptors in the East. They have been absolutely outstanding since acquiring Rudy Gay, beating New York, Indiana and Denver.
Toronto is six games behind Milwaukee and 7 1/2 in back of Boston. The Bucks have lost six of eight and injuries have struck the Celtics, making it a possibility.
Ben Baroff: The bottom of the East has left me no choice. The answer is the Lakers.
They have caught Portland are currently stalking Houston. Like the Lakers, both the Blazers and Rockets are lacking depth. They are also missing the star power that is starting to fuel LA.
The Blazers were 20-15; they are 5-13 since. After an impressive 21-14 start, the Rockets have lost 11 of 18 and are facing a second-half schedule backloaded with West opponents, against whom they are a discouraging 12-19.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have won eight of 11 and are finding some semblance of an identity. Gasol is still out but is hopeful of an April return to help the Lakers down the stretch run.
LA’s last three games are at home, including the season finale – against Houston.
Jeremy Bauman is an aspiring scout and shooting coach who writes columns and blogs for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Maxwell Ogden is a sports journalist and aspiring scout who writes columns for SheridanHoops.c
Ben Baroff is an aspiring sports journalist and marketing professional who blogs and writes columns for SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.