The NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off next Friday, Feb. 24th, and while it's a party and a game on Sunday for some, it's a four-day weekend for the rest.
Then on Tuesday, Feb. 28th, it's back to work and the real business of NBA championship basketball. It's only a short stretch of games from here on in, and the playoffs are just around the corner. First-round games are scheduled to start at the beginning of May.
When the shortened NBA season started, it began with a whimper, and the games were mostly scrappy, forgettable affairs. Over the last couple of weeks, teams have sorted themselves out, and the quality of play has vastly improved.
The final leg of the season will be a sprint to the finish for all those involved, but none more so than in the exciting Atlantic division.
Three teams stand a very good chance of advancing out of the division and going deep into the playoffs. The other two teams don't stand a chance of doing much at all, but if every team were to use the All-Star break to regroup and focus, then it's possible that all five teams could enjoy strong finishes to the end of the year.
Each team should concentrate on three main areas of concern. If they can address these issues before the end of the 2011-2012 season, then the Atlantic Division could become the powerhouse of the East.