NBA second-half storylines: COVID-19 and competitive balance

SportsPulse: As we head into the second half of the NBA season, USA TODAY Sports' Mark Media breaks down three key storylines that will dominate the lead-up to the playoffs.

Video Transcript

The most important one is the Health and Safety at the NBA. The NBA open the 2020, '21 season having to postpone 31 games in the first half of the season. The NBA wants competitive balance and competitive integrity. They want the teams to be able to fulfill a 72 game season, but there is a chance that there are some teams that aren't going to be able to do that, because of postponed games. And if it comes to that point, the NBA will evaluate winning percentage.

And I think the second item is what's going to be the degree of separation in the Eastern Conference or the Western Conference teams. When you look at the East, it looks like it's the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. When you look at the West, it's the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the L.A. Clippers. Can there be more separation between those teams versus the field, or can there be some teams that creep back into that picture? Can the Boston Celtics get back into the Eastern Conference contention discussion?

How about on the Western Conference? You looked at the Phoenix Suns that are playing really well. Can they jockey for even a 3, second, or first seat? Keep in mind, there is a play in tournament for the seventh to 10th seats, but regardless, it's still going to be a fight to the finish. And then I think the third thing to watch is the race for the MVP award. I currently have Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry as the favorite, but there's a lot of different candidates that could be in the mix. You have Joel Embiid with the Sixers you have LeBron James with the Lakers, Kawhi Leonard with the Clippers. My favorite's on Steph Curry, but you know, it's up in the air at this point. And that's why the NBA second half of the season, after the All-Star break, should be an exciting one.