As the clock ticks down on 2018 and the NBA plods its way to the ultimate destination finals, a look around the league reveals some notable events.
The Eastern Conference is led by a team from Canada, The Toronto Raptors. They were on top at the end of the 82-game season last season, not merely ahead, but convincingly ahead, but they faltered in the playoffs.
That stumble seems to have instilled in them a sense of resolve, because they are again comfortably at the head of the Eastern Conference.
The next six teams below Toronto are all above .500 and all enjoy reasonable finals prospects if they can stay on pace during the second half of the season in the upcoming year. The margin separating the contingent right below Toronto is thin, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers, measured by a narrow range of percentage points.
When you look at the Western Conference, you expect to see the Golden State Warriors on top, and they are, if you consider two high, as the surprise has been the Denver Nuggets.
A longstanding formula for NBA success has been to dominate on home court and hopefully do better than break-even on visits to other cities.
Denver has done precisely that and at the moment of time we sampled, had a better road record than said Warriors. Denver has been stingy with opponents that venture into the Mile High City as equal holders of the best home record of any team in the league.
The Nuggets have jumped eight spots on the ladder by comparison to last year, so they have made a remarkable turnaround not unlike the 2016 Western Bulldogs when the Dogs rose from 7th to win the AFL Premiership.
The Los Angeles Lakers have climbed into the conversation. The Lakers were poorer still than the Nuggets were, but the expected LeBron James effect has taken hold and Los Angeles is in the top four of the NBA Western Conference.