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10 predictions for the West

We have hit the official midway point of the NBA season with the All-Star break finally here. The players are getting a weekend of much-deserved rest and relaxation, while the best in the game are showcasing their skills in New York City.

The races for the playoffs for heat up in a major way starting next week, with teams toward the bottom of the postseason picture feeling desperation. There will also be fighting at the top of the standings, with elite groups battling for home-court advantage.

Here are 10 things to expect over the next two months:

10. The Los Angeles Lakers will finish with the worst record

Currently, the Minnesota Timberwolves are two games worse than the Lakers. Yet, with Kobe Bryant out and Andrew Wiggins improving everyday, Minnesota will make up the difference.

9. The New Orleans Pelicans won’t go away

The Pelicans will probably miss the playoffs, but they will finish above .500. Anthony Davis has become one of the top three players in the game and is surrounded by a talented cast.

8. The Houston Rockets will fade

Houston has an MVP candidate in James Harden, but with Dwight Howard getting injured, it is in trouble. Look for the Rockets to drop to the seventh seed before getting bounced quickly in the playoffs.

7. The Los Angeles Clippers will continue to tease

Few teams can match the star-power or talent of the Clippers. Still, there is something missing with this group. Los Angeles will be a popular sleeper pick but get knocked out early.

6. LaMarcus Aldridge will get more headlines

Aldridge might be the most underrated player in the game. With the Portland Trail Blazers rolling toward the playoffs and Aldridge fighting through injury, his contributions will garner plenty of attention.

5. George Karl will get immediate improvement

Karl is one of the best coaches around and will get the Sacramento Kings back to playing respectable basketball. Karl has plenty of work ahead of him but this roster is not without talent.

4. Kevin Durant will lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to the postseason

The Thunder have been sitting on the outside of the playoff picture almost all season. Don’t think for a second that Russell Westbrook and Durant will accept being left out of the dance.

3. There will be a push to name Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson co-MVPs

It is rare when two players perfectly jive together on the court with such talent between them. Thompson and Curry are leading a potential championship charge and could be rewarded with sharing the prestigious award.

2. Gregg Popovich will rest his guys, and it will pay off

The San Antonio Spurs will refuse to push hard for better seeding. Popovich is going to allow rest for Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, keeping them fresh for a long playoff run.

1. The Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors will both win 60 games

These are the two best, most complete teams in basketball. If they meet in the Western Conference Finals, it will be a beautiful contrast of styles. Who wouldn’t want to see the Splash Bros. against Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

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