Week in Review (Oct 31-Nov 5)
Analysis of the truncated opening week that was in the NBA.
Players of the Week: (Listed some of the usual suspects & some nice surprises)
Carlos Boozer--Looks like he's recovered from the injuries. Best player on the best team of the week--20.7 ppg & 15 rpg.
Allen Iverson--Tri-player of the week with Odom & Boozer. 34 ppg & 10 apg leading the Sixers to a 3-0 start. This is definitely an encouraging sign for a team that had as much pessimism surrounding their season as any team. Will see how long the good vibes can last in Philly.
Lamar Odom--With Iverson & Boozer, probably the 3rd nominee for player of the week. Showcased his multi-faceted game by averaging 23.8 ppg, 8.25 rpg, 6 apg, 10/15 on 3pt. & 53.6% from the floor. Has been the centerpiece of the Lakers' strong 3-1 start and working wonderful in the Triangle with his sharp post moves & passing ability.
Ronny Turiaf-- I know he wants to be called "Ronny" this year, but he will always be a Tender Roni to me. I've been pushing for Ronny to get more playing time since the spring & the preseason. Two great games this week--great energy, boards, and a capable post game. Great vs. Sonics on Fri., especially late in the game with two big back-2-back blocks & some huge boards. Hopefully Phil keeps his minutes up even when Mihm & Kwame come back.
David West--Someone who flew under the radar last year and might continue this year since he plays in New Orleans/Okla City. Led the Hornets to an 3-0 record with 20ppg. The Hornets are going to need this since they get very little offense from Chandler & there is not much bench help for the Hornets.
Wally Szczerbiak--Wally has been providing a little bit more scoring production than expected (24 ppg on 53.5%). This might be needed for the Celts to make a playoff push if their frontline continues to provide little assistance.
Sam Cassell--Old man still has a few bullets left in the chamber. Some were worried he would fall off, but I was not worried too much because his game has never been predicated on speed. 25 ppg this week, dropped 35, 6, & 6 on Denver with his array of crafty, mid-range shots off the dribble.
Anthony Parker--Solid play from the seasoned vet. Seems to have established himself as a viable secondary scoring option after Bosh. 14.7 ppg on 54.5% & 4/8 on 3pts. and a nice showing vs. the Nets where he was solid on both ends of the court with his heady play.
Brandon Roy--Off to a pretty fast start--18 ppg, 5 apg, & 4.3 rpg. If he's keeps this up, should have very little trouble holding off Morrison, who should only come close in points, for the Rookie of the Year.
Jazz--Probably the most impressive team this week. Blasted the Rockets by 30+, took care of business by crushing the Warriors, and scored a big victory over the Suns on the road. Got great overall contributions from many players, especially Boozer. Have owned the boards in every game, but then again they played board lightweights like the Suns & Warriors. The defense has been superb, as well. I wavered back-n-forth over the Jazz & the Kings for the #8 seed out West, went with the Kings, but now think the Jazz will at least get the #8 and the Nugs should not assume they have the #4 wrapped up.
Sixers--The win in Orlando was impressive, but the Hawks' win should happen & they beat the Heat with Shaq sitting & Mourning only playing 15 mins. because of foul trouble & only Posey as the only viable bench option. So, Philly fans should not let go of their negativity toward the Sixers just yet. Plus, good vibes & Philly fans just don't mix anyways.
Hornets--Mildly surprising. But always thought Byron Scott was an underrated coach, did a great job with the Nets, & was the Coach of the Year last year in my estimation. Beat the Rockets (although a back-2-back for Hous), & beat a solid Pacers team on the road. But don't think they can finish better than 4th in the Southwest--the bench is too shallow.
Not So Hot Teams:
Warriors-- Not too surprised. Was not on the "Nellie is a Savior" bandwagon. Badly want to emulate the Suns--they get the bad rebounding & defense part right--but the highly efficient offense is no where to be found & I am not surprised (mentioned this in my Season Preview). The Warriors shooting 43% overall & 30% from long-range looks similar to last year. I know it's only 3 games, but the trend of poor rebounding & shooting/shot selection is a continuation from last year, that's why it's worrisome for Bay Area fans. Rebounding will only get better if Nellie abandons the emphasis on SmallBall, but the shooting/shot selection is going to be tougher to change, especially with Baron at the helm.
Suns--Can't say I expected a 1-3 start. But the same old trends are killing them--outrebounded by 12 per game & a 48% Def. Fg%. I thought the defense would still be a problem, but I figured the rebound margin would be closer this year with Amare back & Marion moved to the 3, but as we see, Amare is not ready. So expect the piss-poor boardwork to continue. Have lost to pretty good teams & the Clips' game loss was a back-2-back game on the road, so I am not too worried about them in the reg. season, but they will not get to the NBA finals without improving the boards & the defense. And even having a 100% Amare by playoff time does not necessarily solve those problems.
Mavs--Ok, you can deal with the loss to the Spurs, but to get blasted by the Rockets, and it was not a back-2-back, is somewhat perplexing. Not too worried right now, just a little surprised they got rocked by Houston that bad.
Games of the Week:
GS @ Dall (Mon.)--Coach Nellie returns to Dallas. It seems that the relationship between Cuban & Nellie is more contemptuous then realized, and some believe that Cuban waited to raise the West. Conf banner to rub it in Nellie's face. Stay tuned.
Suns @ Spurs (Wed.)--Will see if the Suns can show any signs of holding their own in the interior defensively vs. Timmy. Possible preview of the West Conf. Finals.
Mavs @ Suns (Thur.)--Another possible preview of the West Conf. Finals. Will see if Dirk gets his rear down in the post more often to take advantage of the soft underbelly of the Suns. 2nd nite of back-2-back games for both squads, so this game should not be judged to harshly.
Rockets @ Heat (Sun)--Yao vs. Shaq always makes for an intriguing matchup. But with Shaq already sitting out a game with injury, maybe not so much juice to the matchup. Also, Wade vs. McGrady provides intrigue on the perimeter. Could come down to whose supporting cast can hit their shots better.