As we approach mid-season, the top five teams in the East all have better records than their top five West counterparts. From there every Western team is better than their corresponding Eastern team but there's still more parity at present in both conferences than I can recall in a long time. Only two teams are winning 70% of their games (Milwaukee and Toronto) and just 5 games separate #1 from #8 in the West. I don't know anybody who predicted the top team in the East would be Milwaukee or that Denver and OKC would be tops in the West or that Brooklyn and Sacramento would be in real contention for playoff spots.
With Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valencunias having been out for a string of games, the Raptors have been labouring for their wins and last night against the Spurs they just couldn't compete. Their 3-point % has been dire in the last few games. Kawhi Leonard has not stopped performing, but against the Jazz the other night it took career-best points total for both him and Pasal Siakam to narrowly get the win. They need Lowry back in a hurry.
The Bucks do look like genuine contenders, not least because of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is having another colossal season. And the scary thing is that he is only 24.
The Greek Freak is absolutely unstoppable in the lane or with a head of steam (ala James) but he's a better rebounder and there are few guys at 6'11" who dish out 6.2 assists per game. I also like that his stats keep improving incrementally each year, particularly shooting, rebounding and assists, which have all gone up in each of his six seasons. That shows he's not just relying on his athleticism but is actually learning and improving.
Great bounce-back for the Raptors against the Bucks in Minnesota today. Siakam with a new career-best 30 points and the defence was great all-round from the starters. Still concerns over the effectiveness of the bench players. Be interesting to see if Kawhai Leonard continues to sit out back-to-back games with the game against the Pacers on Sunday.