The NBA will reach the All-Star break with conference races that are too close to call.In fact, they could be closer than ever at the league’s showcase event.The Toronto Raptors take a one-game lead over Boston in the Eastern Conference into Wednesday, the last full night of play before a week off. In the West, the Golden State Warriors’ lead is down to a half-game over the surging Houston Rockets, who have won nine in a row.Unless those leads grow after those four teams play Wednesday, it will be the first time in NBA history that both conference leaders are ahead by one game or less at the All-Star break, according to the league.
If Houston beats Sacramento and Golden State loses to Portland, it will also mean both All-Star coaches warrant their spots because of their records, instead of the rules.Toronto’s Dwane Casey, who will coach Team LeBron, and Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, who will lead Team Stephen, clinched the coaching positions even though their teams didn’t lead the conferences at the cutoff date. Boston’s Brad Stevens and Golden State’s Steve Kerr were both ineligible because they coached last year.But Casey isn’t celebrating as he heads off to his first time as the head coach of an All-Star team, knowing the tough road ahead.“That’s not even in my thought process,” he said after a 115-112 victory over Miami on Tuesday.“I’m upset even though we won because I know what’s coming around the corner. It’s like you’re going down a dark alley and here comes a group of guys with a baseball bat and you say, ‘Oh, hey, where’s the baseball game?’ at 12 o’clock at night. You know what’s coming around the corner.”