X

Have feedback / suggestions? Let us know!

NBA

15 Things to Watch For Following the 2014 NBA All-Star Break

1 of 16

15 Story Lines to Keep an Eye On Following the 2014 NBA All-Star Break

.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend has come to a close and it is time to get back to the real world. For some fans, the weekend was nearly a lost cause had it not been for a rather entertaining All-Star Game on Sunday night. For others -- maybe the younger generations -- this weekend wasn't half bad, as they don't have much to compare it to.

Regardless of your opinion on the All-Star Break, the teams now must get back to the grind of the regular season in hopes of a playoff run -- well, the majority of teams at least. Some franchises clearly aren't in the running for a championship in 2014, even if they are in the playoff race at the moment. So, what does the remainder of the regular season mean for them?

There are several story lines to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the regular season and before the postseason gets underway. Many of us, as fans, will be watching the next few days very closely. There are bound to be a handful of key trades that get done as the deadline nears. Will the Miami Heat make a move to try and keep pace with the Indiana Pacers? Who makes a deal that tells us they have given up on this season? Both of those questions will be answered shortly.

Down the stretch, both conferences have some interesting situations to watch. For the East, it is all about the mediocrity that consumes the playoff race. Aside from the top two seeds in Miami and Indiana, the rest of the conference is rather unimpressive and not one of them is more than four games above .500.

On the other hand, the West is loaded and will be fun to watch for the rest of the regular season. From one through eight, the West is chock full of some entertaining teams. Even a couple of teams on the outside looking in could make a push and look to secure a spot in the postseason.

Looking at the season as a whole, it has been a great year thus far. But, it is only going to get better. Here are 15 things to watch for now that the 2014 All-Star Weekend is in the books and we look toward the home stretch of the 2013-2014 calendar.

2 of 16

15. Trade Deadline

,
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NBA trade deadline takes place February 20th and there will be plenty of moves made, both by contenders and teams in rebuilding mode. Evan Turner is just one of many guys who are all but certain to be moved. This year’s deadline should be much more eventful than last year – at least the fans hope so.

3 of 16

14. Spurs Still Under the Radar

.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

There are so many teams out West that continue to stay competitive, but the aging San Antonio Spurs are still rarely talked about. Forget the glitz and glam of some of the teams in the West, these Spurs are just plain good. As long as Gregg Popovich is coaching, San Antonio will always be in play for a title.

4 of 16

13. Tanking, Anyone?

.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Log Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers are in a race for the number one overall pick in this year’s draft. A couple of other franchises are not far behind. With the playoffs out of reach, could we see some tanking out of those bottom feeders?

5 of 16

12. Do Suns Stay in Playoff Race?

.
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Like I said, the West is unbelievably competitive. The Phoenix Suns have been quite the surprise this year, but there are teams that could overtake them – namely one in particular that I’ll get to later -- in the race if they slip up just a bit.

6 of 16

11. Does Russell Westbrook Make Smooth Comeback?

.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Westbrook could return to the Oklahoma City Thunder before March. How will his return affect the Thunder’s chemistry throughout the rest of the season? Kevin Durant has had to do so much on his own, but with Westbrook back he won’t have to. Will the transition be smooth?

7 of 16

10. Who Makes Biggest Case For Rookie of the Year?

.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Right now, most would agree that either Victor Oladipo or Michael Carter-Williams could take home the 2013-2014 NBA Rookie of the Year. Will there be anyone else that creeps into the conversation, or do one of those guys have it locked down?

8 of 16

9. How Far Do Nets Go in Playoffs?

.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have crept onto the playoff scene and finally look like a squad that could compete come postseason play. Will Jason Kidd be able to guide his players any further than the first round?

9 of 16

8. Derrick Rose Drama

.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Thibodeau has said that he doesn’t anticipate Derrick Rose practicing with the team again this year. Will that change, or will Rose sit out his second season in a row?

10 of 16

7. Dwyane Wade’s Health Issues

.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

For the Heat to get to the big stage yet again, Dwyane Wade is going to have to be a huge part of it. For the entire regular season, Wade has taken planned rest days and has continued to deal with his ailing knees. Is he going to be able to stay healthy come playoff time?

11 of 16

6. Can Knicks Sneak Into Playoffs?

.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Can the New York Knicks follow in Brooklyn’s footsteps and turn their season around as well? Carmelo Anthony can’t do it alone. Mike Woodson has admitted to his job being tough at times with the guys he has on his team. Is there hope for New York in 2014?

12 of 16

5. Grizzlies Making Postseason Push

.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but one of those teams creeping closer to playoff contention is the Memphis Grizzlies. They rode a 7-3 record into the All-Star Break and continue to right the ship.

13 of 16

4. Will Anyone Challenge Miami or Indiana in East?

.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

At the moment, the Toronto Raptors are the number three seed in the East with a record of 28-24. Is there any possible way that the Conference Finals winds up being a matchup other than Indiana vs. Miami?

14 of 16

3. Wide Open West?

.
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Six of the eight teams currently in the playoff race in the West are at least 10 games over .500. Come time for the postseason, every series should be incredibly exciting regardless of the matchups. Is there anyone else wishing the playoffs started next week?

15 of 16

2. Will Kevin Durant Run Away With MVP?

.
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

At the moment, the MVP looks like it belongs to the Slim Reaper. Will Durant be challenged for the honors?

16 of 16

1. Do the Heat Three-Peat?

.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, the biggest question of all is: Who wins it all? Do the Heat complete the three-peat?

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman or add him to your network on Google.