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NBA: Season Update - Brooklyn storm up the standings

With a string of teams about to face their 40th game of the season this week, we’re roughly at the halfway point in the regular season.

There’s also just a month to go until the trade deadline, with the NBA standings delicately poised. In the East, everyone from the 13th-placed Orlando Magic and up look to be in the post-season mix. Out West, the 13th-placed Oklahoma City Thunder are two games shy of the Play-in tournament.

The league looks as competitive as it has ever been, with no shortage of championship contenders. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the season so far, with a focus on the teams that are showing their title credentials.

Brooklyn on a mission

The Brooklyn Nets have stormed up the Eastern standings to the point that only the Boston Celtics had a superior record to them across the league after their latest victory. They’ve won 13 of their last 14 games, with the team finally moving in the same direction.

Jacque Vaughn stepping in for Steve Nash looks to be a real turning point in their season. The Nets originally chased Ime Udoka, but the interim coach brought a change in morale and results and landed the job for the season.

Not only has he got the team performing, but Vaughn is now +180 to win Coach of the Year this season, having turned the Nets into one of the more fearsome forces in the league.

Celtics hit a slump

While the Boston Celtics remain out in front, they have seen their standards slip slightly of late. They had an 18-4 record by the end of November, only to follow that up with an 8-8 run in December and into early January.

The Celtics had been flying since the start of 2022, so a slowdown was to be expected. It hasn’t dented their championship hopes, as they still lead the league and they are +375 to win the NBA championship this term.

The Celtics would have been in a much tougher spot had Jayson Tatum’s performances fallen away. However, his stellar displays have made him a +325 contender to be named MVP this season.

While the Nets are flying, there’s still confidence that the Celtics will stay out in front. Boston are -180 to finish as the top seed in the East, while Brooklyn can be backed at +250 to overhaul them and lead the Conference.

Nuggets lead competitive West

The Western Conference is so competitive this term that there are no fewer than three legitimate title contenders that are hovering around .500. The LA Clippers (21-20), Golden State Warriors (20-20) and Phoenix Suns (20-20) could each claim to be the strongest side in the West with everyone healthy.

However, so far this term it has been the Denver Nuggets that have been the West’s standout team. They lead the Conference with a 26-13 record, including a stellar 16-3 return at home. Nikola Jokic is proving to be an MVP contender again after winning it in back-to-back seasons, but this time around he has real help.

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The presence of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr could harm Jokic’s MVP push, although he is +300 to retain the award. However, those three together give the Nuggets the depth needed to challenge for the title.

Luka is hauling Mavs into contention

The Dallas Mavericks were sitting around the Play-in places at one point, but a surge in form from Luka Doncic has hauled them into the top three. The Mavs have won eight of their last 10 games to sit within 2.5 games of the leaders, as they build on last season’s run to the Conference finals.

Luka’s brilliant form has made him +260 for MVP, but his team are still +2800 for the title. He probably needs more help before they can go all the way, but they look undervalued as the side seventh in the betting to make it out of the West.

The Mavericks could climb higher in the coming weeks, with the New Orleans Pelicans in danger of slipping. They had recently been narrowly behind the Nuggets, but injuries have hit them hard. Brandon Ingram is working his way back to fitness, but Zion Williamson is set to miss at least the rest of January.

The Mavs’ 127-117 win over the Pels on Saturday night cut the gap between them to one game while keeping Dallas in the hunt for top seed.

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