Time to look at not only seeds but the All-Stars that represent them. Enjoy
The Atlanta Hawks have won 19 games in a row and are 8 wins away from matching the Miami Heat win streak a few years ago. The main difference between this team and that..is the lack of leading stars. Call them San Antonio East at this point. This team has yet to lose in 2015, and is a remarkable 13-2 against the Western Conference. Even though they sit on top of the NBA, not a single player was voted as a starter in this year's All-Star game. The coaches made sure the bench was filled with Hawks as a result, with Jeff Teague, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap being picked as reserves. Kyle Korver might also be picked if Dwyane Wade isn't playing.
Washington and Toronto
The Wizards and Raptors will have an entertaining second round of the playoffs if last night was any indication. The Wiz trailed by 21 points in the third before tying the game with 25 seconds left in the fourth. In overtime Kyle Lowry took over with 7 points and the Raptors win streak of seven games continued. Another boost for Toronto was the return of DeMar DeRozan who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Raptors went 12-9 without him in the lineup so clearly he will provide a boost from here on out.
The Wizards on the other hand have an ailing point guard who managed to still put up 28 points and 12 assists. I still can't get over the fact that John Wall and Kyle Lowry will be the starting backcourt in an East that has Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving & Dwyane Wade. Great accomplishment.
The Bulls have lost 2 in a row and are 4-6 in the past 10. Like previous seasons, Coach Thibs has ran his players into the ground and this year is no different. Could that approach finally be taking a toll in Chicago? Jimmy Butler is leading the NBA in minutes, Pau Gasol is a 34 years old averaging 35 minutes, and Derrick Rose has recently been playing in the 40's. If Coach Thibs doesn't restrict the minutes, Chicago will be upset in the first round and Coach Thibs will be fired. Of course, if he was fired at this moment, he'd be hired by the time you finish reading this article. Pau Gasol is the starting Center for the East? Against Anthony Davis & brother Marc? May God have mercy on your soul Pau. We know what Pau vs Blake Griffin looks like. - > http://youtu.be/PzxFJa6rfsg
This has been a week about Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. First Kyrie went crazy without LeBron James, with 55 points vs Portland. As soon as that game was over, it was all about Kevin Love's return to Minnesota. Of course just like you expected, Love didn't do well. He was boo'd constantly through the night, out-shined by Andrew Wiggins and ended up with 14 points on 14 shots. But this is what happens when you have LeBron as insurance for a bad game. If there is a team that can dethrone Atlanta from the top, its the team we all predicted in the beginning of the year to be at the top.
Has anyone been thankful to be in Milwaukee? Well now would be an ideal team to be in the city. The Bucks are the NBA's latest rising team, winning 3 in a row, and marching towards a new arena. All this without Jabari Parker. Has anyone thought of the nickname Kidd's Kids yet though?
in Miami, it has become Whiteside or bust. With Dwyane Wade being out indefinitely, the Heat now have to build an offense around the front court of Whiteside and Chris Bosh. The problem there is when you build an offense around the front court, you need outside shooting from your guards to space the floor. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier the other night against the Mavs went 7-27 on shooting. So it looks like Miami's best back court player not named Wade..is Tyler Johnson. With that being said, here's Tyler Johnson everyone!
Heat fans, don't look but the Charlotte Hornets are a half game behind and have won 10 of the past 13 games. This is happening without Kemba Walker and with Lance Stephenson
Time to look at the Bestern Conference
|1||Golden State Warriors||37-8||None|
|4||Portland Trail Blazers||32-16||6.5|
|7||San Antonio Spurs||30-18||8.5|
You would think after losing on the last shot at home from Chicago, the Warriors would throttle the Jazz the next game. Then they lost by 10. Panic mode? No because as expected, the Warriors once again bounced back with a victory. The NBA's most entertaining team beat the Suns last night 106-87 behind 47 points from the Splash Brothers. For the first time in history though, the Three Point Shooting Contest will actually be more exciting than the Dunk Contest. Proof: You know the Splash Brothers and Kyle Korver is shooting 3's against each other. Who's dunking that weekend? .....Yea exactly.
Speaking of Dunk Contests, Is it time for Vince Carter to retire yet? Averaging only 6 points per game this season, Carter now has an injured tendon that will have him sit out for an even longer period of time. If possible I think the man known as Air Canada should play one last season in Toronto before calling it quits. Marc Gasol vs Pau Gasol in the All Star game. Marc wins every time right? Marc had 15 points and 12 rebounds last night as the Grizzlies bullied the Thunder behind Zach Randolph's 21 points and 18 rebounds. Name a more dominating front court please. Go ahead take your time.
The Clippers lost to the Pelicans...without their leading unibrow but then responded with a resounding win over the Champions. How huge was the Clipper victory? First off it broke the Spurs six-game home winning streak, out-rebounded San Antonio 56-36 and limited Tim Duncan to 4 points. Blake Griffin also played big with 31 points and 13 rebounds, supported by 20 from Chris Paul and 19 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan. You get a well rounded game like this consistently from the Clippers and you can go...oh wait this isn't the East.
It's great to see Josh Smith finally fitting in Houston but the question is the playoff destiny for the team. Can they escape the first round? While James Harden is certainly having an MVP year (26 points last night in a loss against the Pistons) and deserves to be starting for the West, but will all this be enough to get past one round? Joey Dorsey will be a solid replacement for Dwight Howard, who might be out for a month with his latest knee injury. Speaking of Howard, remember when he was lock in to make in the All Start lineup. Those were the good days.
Damian Lillard certainly feels disrespected and he certainly has a right to. I thought it would be him that replaces Kobe Bryant instead of Demarcus Cousins. Lillard took to Instagram after being snubbed saying:
If that post is any indication of what's to come, Lillard seems intent on being the 2nd half MVP. Unfortunately last night's defeat against a rising Milwaukee team wasn't an angry Portland team. Instead it's a Blazer squad that has lost three in a row and 8 out of the last 10 games.
Dallas and San Antonio
The Mavs and the Spurs are still the most dangerous seeds due to experience, and both teams could upset anyone in a series. After having a 37-2 run to beat Miami, it was hard to not notice not a single Mavs will play in the All-Star game, even though they were pushing for Monta Ellis to make it. The team is well balanced throughout the roster and I'm sure everyone will gladly use the break. Especially Rajon Rondo, who was lost last night in Orlando due to a head injury. The Spurs on the other hand lost last night to the Clippers but you don't want to have to beat them four times out of seven.
Phoenix, New Orleans and Oklahoma City
Who would you like as the 8th seed? The Suns, Pelicans or Thunder? The Suns lost last night to the Warriors while OKC got beaten by Memphis in Durant's return. Anthony Davis certainly deserves to start but does Kevin Durant deserve to play considering he's missed 25 games? Will the Thunder fire Scott Brooks after this season if they don't make the playoffs? Rumor is Reggie Jackson's name is being floated among trade rumors. Will it matter though? Oh and did you see Dion Waiters on the fast break yet?
Lastly, even though Minnesota is a bleak 8-39, a lineup of Rubio and Andrew Wiggins can be special for the T-Wolves. Minnesota misses the days of Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett. Wiggins provides a spark that bring that feeling back to the Twin city. Rubio is set to make his return Monday against Dallas.
Well it's been writing all this, and I hope its been fun reading it as well. See you next week.