The All Star Break has come and gone along with the trading deadline, which showed a few big deals and many no deals. Some of the landscape has changed but did enough happen to threaten the Cavaliers and Warriors returning to The Finals?

The Pelicans landed Boogie Cousins and are pushing for that 8th seed but ultimately are building for the future and need to improve their anemic backcourt. The Champs added Deron Williams and it looks like Andrew Bogut will follow. The additions of Derrick Williams, former Arizona standout, and lethal sharpshooter Kyle Korver make a very solid bench once J.R. Smith and KLove return. The Cavs are poised for another deep run and made some good moves to solidify their position as the favorite in the East.

Toronto picking up Serge Ibaka means nothing to me for this team, especially with Kyle Lowry out for at least the regular season. Indiana is trying to stay relevant along with the Celtics who need IT4 to keep playing at such a high level. The Wizards are my dark horse out of the East with the only real chance to make noise in my opinion. A win over Golden State on Tuesday is proof that this team is capable.

In the West, obviously the aforementioned Warriors are the runaway favorites, who did not do much at the deadline, because why mess up what they have already? KD hyperextended his knee in the loss to Washington but while the results are unclear, it did not appear detrimental. The Spurs keep chugging along quietly while Houston will make a serious push with future MVP James Harden playing at a ferocious pace under the Mike D’Antoni system.

I love Utah and Memphis to be spoilers in the West as they love to slow the pace down and let’s not forget Mr. Triple-Double himself who can win a game all by his lonesome at times for the Thunder. The LA Clippers will finally be fully healthy to make a push, but all of these teams that needed to make a run at a superstar at the deadline to have a real chance at knocking off GSW in a best of 7, this was that team and they did not pull any sort of trigger whatsoever.

At the end of the year it will likely be Cleveland and Golden State in a rubber match of the last two Finals. Most importantly for our purposes, it is about picking spots in the NBA, and ultimately being on the right side. Finding the value and motivation of each team in match ups down the stretch will weigh heavily in determining and maintaining a high percentage Against the Number!

Get the rest of Noah Parker’s NBA Season for Half Price! by entering coupon code “hardwood” at check out.