The big point is that most teams take the All-Star weekend as the 'end of the first half' despite the fact that more regular season games are played before that point than there will be after. The 'good' teams also start getting themselves into Play Off mode at this point and there is less coasting going on through games and so we should see less 'crazy scores' than we may have done before that point.
Over the next couple of months, the biggest news stories will likely be surrounding the LA Lakers in their bid to make the Play Offs, although they look in a tough spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers have the big name players but can no longer believe that the ship will be righted without a big effort. While there have been signs that Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash are getting on the same page, their problems on the road look certain to cost them unless they can rally together.
Of course, the sad news currently with the Lakers was the passing of Dr Jerry Buss just after the All-Star weekend. It is an emotional time for all connected with the Lakers as Buss was the man who brought 'Showtime' to the masses and Kobe Bryant has tried to rally his team-mates by telling them to make the Play Offs in memory of their owner.
There are just 6 days left in February, but I will have a few picks to close the month and then hope to kick on in March.
Houston Rockets @ Washington Wizards Pick: This looks a bit of a trappy line considering how well Houston have played in recent games, but I do think the Rockets can get the better of the Washington Wizards in this one.
The Wizards are a tough team to play in Washington and they are off an impressive win over the Denver Nuggets last night and I believe that would have taken more out of them than the Houston win in Brooklyn on the same evening.
Houston have dominated the recent series between these teams and are hot from beyond the arc so I like them here.
Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: When you talk about teams playing at an extremely high level, you have to talk about the LeBron James powered Miami Heat who have been looking like the team to beat in the NBA this season. The Heat are going for their 10th straight win and have already recorded big road wins at Oklahoma City and Chicago in that run.
The problem for Philadelphia all season is that their risky trade to bring in Andrew Bynum has just not worked with the Center yet to play a game in their uniform. Losing Andre Iguodala was a big deal and they haven't matched up well with the Heat.
I think the Heat have another focused effort before going home and record another success in Philadelphia.
Indiana Pacers @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Indiana Pacers have dominated their Divisional rivals the Detroit Pistons this season and I am looking for them to complete the sweep in this home and home spot.
The Pacers detroyed the Pistons last night in Indiana and both teams have travelled here in differing hearts. Indiana have now won 8 of their last 10 games while Detroit have lost 4 of 6 at home and it does seem Indiana have a clear edge in the contest.
Danny Granger may also make his season debut for Indiana in this one and they look strong enough to take care of the Pistons again.
Atlanta Hawks @ Detroit Pistons Pick: I think the Atlanta Hawks can grab a vital victory at the Palace of Auburn Hills in this one- I thought it would have been a much changed Hawks team taking to the court after the trade deadline, but they have kept their roster together although unlikely to make a challenge for a title.
They face a short-handed Detroit team who will be missing Will Bynum through suspension and one that has taken back to back pastings from the Indiana Pacers. While the Pistons have been very good in the recent series with Atlanta, I just feel they are one of those teams that could have a slower final two months of the season.
It'll likely be close, but I expect the Hawks can pull away late in this one before a Western Conference road trip.
LA Lakers @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The LA Lakers are just one game away from getting back to 0.500 and they have closed to 2.5 games behind the Houston Rockets in the chase for a Play Off berth in the Western Conference. However, they will be severely tested in this one as they head to Denver to take on the Nuggets with a very strong home record.
The Nuggets could make life tough for an older LA Lakers squad, especially with their fast style of play and the altitude of Denver. The Lakers are also playing the second of back to back nights play and they earned a big win in Dallas yesterday, but could be focused on getting back to the Staples Center after this one and playing 'weaker' teams than the Nuggets.
Denver are 7-3 against the spread at home against the Lakers and I think they can extend their recent good run against the Lakers in this one.
Golden State Warriors @ Indiana Pacers Pick: I like the Indiana Pacers in this one to continue their recent good form and also continue their recent domination of the Golden State Warriors.
While the Warriors can score a lot of points, Indiana have one of the best defenses in the NBA and I expect that defense to be the reason they are able to cover in this one.
Sacramento Kings @ Miami Heat Pick: The Miami Heat have been playing exceptionally and recovered from the scare that the Cleveland Cavaliers gave them to record their 11th straight win.
They have dominated the Sacramento Kings in recent meetings and I expect that to continue against a team that has shown signs of form, but too often fail to get things going on the road. The Kings have lost 8 in a row on the road and have been beaten by an average of 16.2 points per game in that run, while they have lost 8 in a row to the Heat by 19.5 points per game.
Miami should be able to take care of this big spread with a few days rest between this game and their next game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers Pick: While the Orlando Magic are short-handed for this game, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to play without Andrew Bynum, although a returning Thaddeus Young gives them some more scoring power to add to Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner.
Philadelphia crushed Orlando here earlier this season and I think their motivation will be high to get a win and close the gap to the Eastern Conference Play Offs. It is a big spread, but the Magic are missing some big pieces and it hard to see them keeping this one close.
Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: It seems almost certain that Cleveland will be missing Kyrie Irving for a second game in a row and that should be enough for the Toronto Raptors to continue their winning run on the road since Rudy Gay was traded from Memphis.
It is also a tough spot for Cleveland as they put in a big emotional effort against Chicago last night to win that game without Irving. There is also a chance that Cleveland could overlook Toronto as they have just played Chicago and then host some tough opponents like the LA Clippers and New York Knicks.
New Orleans Hornets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: The New Orleans Hornets will be short-handed for this one with both Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis missing out and that leads me to think the Oklahoma City Thunder will be an easier winner in this contest than they have the more recent times they have hosted New Orleans.
Oklahoma City have dominated Western Conference teams at home with 17 straight wins here and they have too much Offense for the short-handed Hornets in my opinion. It is a big spread, but I like the Thunder to dominate and cover.
LA Clippers @ Indiana Pacers Pick: Roy Hibbert is suspended for this game after his part in the mass brawl between the Pacers and the Golden State Warriors a couple of nights ago, and that is a big body to lose against Lob City.
This is a big game for both teams who will have serious Championship aspirations and both will want to prove themselves. Both should be focused on one another, but I have a feeling the Clippers are in the slightly better spot.
The absence of Hibbert and Danny Granger still working his way back to full game fitness means I think it could be tough for the Pacers. The Clippers have been hot and they do look capable of winning their first game here in Indiana since 2008.
MY PICKS: 23/02 Houston Rockets - 1.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/02 Miami Heat - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/02 Indiana Pacers - 4 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
25/02 Atlanta Hawks - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/02 Denver Nuggers - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/02 Indiana Pacers - 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/02 Miami Heat - 15 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/02 Philadelphia 76ers - 9.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/02 Toronto Raptors - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/02 Oklahoma City Thunder - 14.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
28/02 LA Clippers + 1 Point @ 1.92 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
February Update: 6-3, + 2.61 Units
December Final: 17-7-1, + 9.19 Units
Season 2013: 35-29-2, + 7.91 Units
Season 2012: 79-53-1, + 27.48 Units