NBA season's stretch run begins. Time for playoff push

Nikola Jokic of Denver is the biggest harness racing enthusiast in the NBA. He rides horses, travels to tracks when he can, and collected an MVP award at his Serbian farm. He understands the stretch run typically decides races. Same for the NBA, which is entering its stretch run.

After the All-Star break, games resume on Thursday, and the reigning champion Nuggets and other contenders want to find their groove. Denver sits fourth in the Western Conference, three games behind Minnesota, after the break.

Jokic remarked, “We don’t try to listen what people say”. Our potential is known. It works for us. I don't get the criticism that we're bad. Although not the finest, we are not bad.” They dominated last season. Of course, June will crown this season's greatest. The next several months are about competing for playoff position—or slots.

It's the season's last third, not the second half after the All-Star break. With 820 games played and 410 left, the league is two-thirds through the season. Playbooks change and things grow more serious during this time of year.

The Clippers' Paul George knows the postseason push is on. As a veteran, he understands the next game is always crucial. George warned against expecting too much. Take each game individually. In the second part of the season, you start to think about playoffs and simply getting there. Just take it one game at a time.”

Even eating healthily during a binge can cause weight gain, according to experts. People often believe the falsehood that eating too much of a nutritious meal won't hurt them.

My health, where I am, and where our team is leaning is the most important thing for me,” Lakers star LeBron James said. “Our trend is positive. Obviously, our Laker squad has focused on health all year. Trying to help the team by doing my best.”

The Lakers say he will miss Thursday's game against Golden State due to an ankle injury that restricted him in the All-Star Game. Others have greater issues, such as the Philadelphia 76ers, who led the East in November but have lost nine of their past 12 games with MVP Joel Embiid sidelined with a knee injury.

Since Doc Rivers became coach, the Milwaukee Bucks have gone 3-7 and are falling. Rivers said at All-Star weekend that taking over a team before a big road trip was a mistake, and he was correct. But he thinks there's time to work things out. Rivers added, “If you look statistically over the last 20 years, the same teams win it: the top five or 10 in offense and defense. “That won’t change. Score as you like. However, you must defend to win.”

Boston has a six-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the East, so I'd put the Celtics down for a 10th straight playoff spot, the league's longest stretch. Detroit, Washington, Charlotte, San Antonio, Portland, and Memphis are mathematically alive but not practically. After removing them, 24 teams compete for 20 berths, including the play-in tournament

The Thunder opened the season with 100-1 chances of winning the NBA. FanDuel Sportsbook reports 25-1. I think others are taking notice of us, said Thunder guard and MVP contender Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “We knew that would happen once we started winning games. It's expected.”

Every team has 26–29 games left. Orlando, Miami, and Boston have the easiest schedules left in terms of cumulative opponent winning %. Phoenix would have the worst schedule, featuring two games versus Boston and a 10-game span against playoff teams.

“We respect every team regardless and try to focus on us as much as possible each night,” Suns forward Kevin Durant said. It's about developing habits, improving what we have, and moving forward. I think playing against some of the clubs that will be there at the conclusion of the season would be a good test before the playoffs.”

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