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The Saitama Broncos find themselves in a familiar place as the season heads into its stretch run — near the bottom of the pack. And they will miss the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.

But since All-Star John “Helicopter” Humphrey’s return after missing 11 off 12 games due to a back injury (he had a one-game return on Dec. 1, scored 24 points, and was sidelined the next seven games), Saitama is playing its best stretch of basketball since the bj-league’s inception in the fall of 2005.

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