NBA Teams To Ride & Fade in 2nd Half

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Following the culmination of the All-Star Break, NBA teams have returned to the court this week as we delve into the second half of the 2023-24 season. 

The play-in tournament and the playoffs are less than two months away, and this is the final stretch for teams to secure their postseason fate. Therefore, we’re taking a look at which NBA teams you should ride and fade for the rest of the season. 

Which NBA teams should you ride and fade?

The Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves are the current conference leaders. Teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder are also having excellent campaigns. However, which teams will carry on in their excellent form? Let’s find out below!

Eastern Conference Recap

We’ll begin the article with a quick recap of both conferences, starting with the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are comfortable leaders through 56 games, boasting a record of 44-12. The next best team is the Cleveland Cavaliers (36-18). 

Joe Mazzulla’s team has certainly been one of the most impressive NBA teams this season. They have won their last seven straight games and don’t look like slowing down. Jayson Tatum has been the star player, putting up 27.1 points per game (ppg) this season. 

However, the Cavs have quickly risen up the rankings. They lost just one out of 18 games in a hot streak across January and the beginning of February. However, they have lost two of their last three, including a 116-109 home defeat against the Orlando Magic in their first matchup since the All-Star Break. 

The Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers currently make up the rest of the playoff spots thus far. However, the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat look like the most likely challengers to finish inside the top 6 at this stage. 

Play-in contenders

With the Magic and the Heat currently occupying seventh and eighth-place respectively, the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks are the other two teams that would reach the play-in as things stand. Realistically, the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors are the only two NBA teams that have a chance at overtaking the Bulls and the Hawks in the Eastern Conference. 

The Heat and the Hawks are in decent shape at the moment. They have a record of 6-4 over their last ten, with the former winning four of their last five games. That includes wins over the Magic, the Bucks and the 76ers. Center Bam Adebayo impressed in the most recent victory over Philadelphia, recording a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds. 

Looking at Atlanta, they have won just two of their last six so their decent run of late may be coming to an end. They have lost their last two back-to-back as well, including a disappointing 122-99 loss to the Charlotte Hornets last time out. 

Western Conference Recap

It looks set to be an incredibly competitive end to the Western Conference with just six wins separating the No.1 seed and the No.6 seed. The Wolves (39-16) are the current leaders, but the Thunder (38-17) are just one game back. Both NBA teams are on good streaks, too, with Minnesota winning their last four, and OKC picking up three successive victories. 

Oklahoma City guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been one of the best players across the entire league this season with 31.1 ppg (2nd-most in NBA). The Timberwolves had both Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns feature in the All-Star game. 

The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks wrap up the current playoff places. However, not much is separating the top contenders in the Western Conference this season. The Clippers and the Phoenix Suns are two of the hottest teams recently, with records of 11-4 and 10-5 over their last 15. 

Play-in contenders

The red-hot Golden State Warriors are seriously impressing in the 2nd half of the season. They are 8-2 over their last ten matchups and currently occupy the final play-in spot with a record of 28-26. They are just five wins behind the Suns, though, with an extra two games to play. Veteran Stephen Curry is leading the charge, and he put up 32 points in a 128-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the first game back from the break. 

Are the Warriors one of the NBA teams you’re riding in the 2nd half?

The Suns, Sacramento Kings and LA Lakers are the three other teams that are currently making the play-in for the Western Conference. They have between 33 and 30 wins thus far. Teams such as the Utah Jazz (26-31) and the Houston Rockets (24-31) will need to have strong runs if they are to spark a serious run at reaching the postseason. 

NBA Teams To Ride: Eastern Conference

One team from the Eastern Conference that we could consider to ride in the 2nd half of the season is the Magic. They have a record of 7-3 over their last ten (third-best streak in the conference), and have picked up back-to-back wins against the Cavs and the Knicks in their most recent outings. Orlando has a record of 31-25, and could match the Pacers 32-25 record if they win their extra game. 

The return of forward Franz Wagner has massively helped their recent charge, and he is averaging 24.0 ppg over his last five. Orlando struggled without him on the court earlier on in the season. Now that he’s back, the Magic could be one of the NBA teams to ride in the 2nd half.

Despite the Cavs’ slight drop in form of late, we should still ride with them this season. They went on an insane streak without the likes of key players Darius Garland and Evan Mobley earlier this season. Their depth on the roster should see them finish the campaign well. 

Winning their last five out of seven games, the Pacers are another team streaking at the moment. Indiana has improved since the return of All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton. He leads the entire league in assists per game (11.7), and if he can stay healthy, he should easily help guide the Pacers to the playoffs. 

Can Tyrese Haliburton guide the Pacers to the playoffs?

NBA Teams To Fade: Eastern Conference

Next up we’re looking at which NBA teams to fade in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have been pretty average of late, going 5-5 over their last ten. They managed to defeat the 76ers 110-96 in their last game, but it was far from convincing, and they had lost four straight before the All-Star Break. 

They have had star guard Jalen Brunson banged up recently, but even when he’s been on the court, the Knicks lost three on the bounce against the Pacers, Rockets and the Magic. They still have Julius Randle, OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson on the injury report too so their strength in depth is questionable right now. 

The Sixers are another team that I would consider fading at the moment. Of course, the loss of reigning MVP Embiid has been detrimental, and the 76ers went 3-5 since he got injured. They made some interesting moves before the deadline, adding the likes of Buddy Hield and Kyle Lowry.

However, it’s hard to trust Philly altogether without Embiid, especially when it isn’t clear when he will be able to return. Forward Tobias Harris has been banged of late as well, and has put up just 11 and 7 points in his last two outings, limiting Philly’s offense even further.

It makes sense to continue fading the Bucks, too, if you haven’t already. They are 3-7 since Doc Rivers took charge, and their offense has significantly weakened following his arrival in Milwaukee. They’ve got a tough matchup against the Timberwolves next up as well. 

NBA Teams to Ride: Western Conference

Moving onto the Western Conference now, we simply can’t ignore the streaking Warriors. They have lost just one of their last eight matchups, and put in an impressive performance against the Lakers in their return from the break. With somebody like Curry on the roster, there’s always a chance of success. 

The trio of Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have helped Golden State win multiple championships over the past decade, as recently as 2022 as well. You can never count out the Warriors, especially when they are on such a hot streak. 

Another one of the hottest NBA teams right now is the Mavericks. They made some very significant moves at the deadline, drastically improving their depth by adding P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford. They are 4-0 since acquiring them. 

The Mavs have won their last seven successive matchups, including a solid 123-113 triumph over the Suns in the return from the break. With All-Star Luka Doncic leading the charge, Dallas’ depth and quality means you should ride them in the 2nd half of the season. 

NBA Teams to Fade: Western Conference

One team that may come as a surprise that we recommend to fade is the Pelicans. They are 8-2 over their last ten, but they have beaten just one team over .500 over that period. When they faced tougher opposition at the end of January in the Thunder, the Bucks and the Celtics, they lost three straight. With teams like the Mavericks and the Warriors all trending in the right direction, we could see New Orleans dropping down into the play-in places. 

The Utah Jazz are a more obvious contender to fade since they are 2-8 over their last ten outings. They have lost their last five in a row as well, and failed to bounce back after the break, losing 115-107 at home to the 14-41 Hornets. 

They went on a 12-2 streak across the end of 2023 and into the new year, but have struggled since then. Utah has lost 11 of its last 15 games and are trending downwards. It seems like a good idea to focus on them as one of the NBA teams to fade in the 2nd half.