Week in Review (Dec 4-Dec 10)
Suns--10 in a row, 4-0 this week including a stolen win an epic reg. season game @ NJ. Shot 53% overall for the week & 45% from 3pt. Right now the Suns are leading the league in FG% (49%) & 3pt % (40.4), PPG--pretty much like last year. What's somewhat encouraging, the Suns are rebounding the ball better--they won the rebound battle in 3 of 4 games this week. But they are still getting outrebounded by 3.3 per game for the season. Great spread of production dispersed between Nash, Diaw, Marion, Barbosa, Amare, & Raja. Looking scary good, but we kind of expect this in the reg. season. The one question remains can they defend well enough in the playoffs? Right now the defense is not looking too good. But their defense does not have to be great, just mediocre with how deadly efficient their offense is.
TWolves--Really sneaking under the radar. Surprisingly over .500, & 3-0 this week with wins over the Rockets & the Jazz. Once again an underrated defensive team--only the Rockets have a better def. FG%, plus the Wolves have the 4th best Def. 3pt. %. Never understood why some people were putting Casey on the hot seat already considering their defense was underrated last year, as well. Although, their rebounding is still a problem, which is not surprising with their lack of frontcourt talent outside of KG. Their 3pt. shooting could be better as well (Mike James is their only solid deep shooter)--29.5% this week.
Lakers--Nice to have 15 out of your first 20 games at home. Definitely been helped by their early schedule, but I feel the Lakers are legit, unlike how I felt about the Warriors' semi-success due to an early favorable schedule. 3-1 this week, and closed it with a big win vs. the Spurs, where the defense looked impressive. But now things start to toughen with their next 8 of 10 on the road, including a rough week with a back2back in Texas (Hou & Dall) & back to Staples to play host to Houston on Fri.
Not so Hot Teams:
Sixers--For a squad where things were not looking so rosy before this week, things got a whole lot worst with Iverson's mutiny--0-3 this week One of the worst def. teams in the league once again. Mo Cheeks is just too low-key & nice to turn this team around defensively. 3rd worst rebounding team in the NBA, and the 2nd worst on the def. boards, which just magnifies the defensive issues. If this team does deal AI, they need to look to fill their gaping holes at PG & back-up PF. The rumored deal with the T-Wolves for Davis & Foye just does not excite me if I am Billy King. You're just adding 2 more wings to go along with Korver, Iggy, & Carney. Although, Davis' deal does expire next year, so if the TWolves throw some draft picks in, I might be more enticed.
Nets--0-3 this week, with two games they should have won. Most puzzling team in the NBA. Here's the thing--Jefferson, Kidd, Krstic, & Vince have all played well & the defense overall has been solid, believe it or not. The bench has not been great, but probably not as poor as last year--Marcus Williams has looked good. The one thing I notice, they get early leads and just can't seem to finish off teams. They play great defense for a half, but can't seem to string it together for an entire game. This team just does not seem to retain their focus for entire game. They really get nothing from their frontline besides Krstic. Collins is a very good post defender, but he provides basically nothing else, not even rebounds. And the Nets have very little on the bench. I guess Mikki Moore is ok, but they need a legit PF, hopefully Boone can get acclimated quickly, because they need him now. They looked great in the Suns game, and some of that had to do with going uptempo. I felt they needed to go more uptempo in my season preview, and still think Frank has not stressed this enough.
Players of the Week:
S. Nash--MVP of the week. Sealed the deal with a legendary reg. season performance in double OT vs. Nets. Nash hit a desperation 3pt to send the game into overtime, and buried another big 3 in the 2nd OT to secure the lead. To go along with 6/7 on 3pts., Nash mixed in a variety of his patented scoop shots & running one-handers to utlimately end with 42 & 13 assts. Nash averaged 20ppg, 14apg, 10/17 3pt. & 57.4% for the week. Nash is shooting 53.3% for the season & a ridiculous 51.3% from 3pt.
Gil Arenas--If you read this blog enough you know I am not a huge fan of Gil's overall game. But I must give him props when deserved. Gil dropped 37.3 ppg on 51.5% this week. The best part was the combined 24/44 from the field in two road games. Gil's road shooting has been pitiful all season & has been a big reason for the Wizards' road ineptitude. Arenas was 18/37 from 3pt this week, but what is he doing chucking up that many shots. Still only 42.5% overall for the year, something that should not get much higher with Gil's customary shot selection still intact.
Ed Curry--Who'd thunk that Big Ed would ever show this kind of consistency for back2back weeks. Has he officially turned the corner, and can we expect 20 & 10 from him every nite? I still will not be sold until he keeps this production up until about the All-Star break, this guy brings too much baggage for me to feel confidence this run will continue. 28, 11.7 rrpg on 65% this week.
Josh Howard--The really bright spot of Josh's play is his 3pt. shooting--9/19 this week, 20/38 since returning from injury around Thanksgiving, & 48% for the year. His outside shooting has always been an adventure with that ugly form, his shot is still not pretty but it seems to be falling. If this continues, the Mavs could be even harder to stop at playoff time, since before this year you could always sag off Josh & help onto Dirk or JTerry.
K. Garnett--How bout this week: 24.3ppg, 12.3rpg, 4.3apg, 3bpg, & 2.3spg. KG led the way for the Wolves' undefeated week & big victories over Utah & Houston. If the Wolves are to get Iverson, with their strong defense, they have a shot to challenge for a division title.
S. Marion--Not a bad second banana to Nash this week: 24.8ppg, 9rpg, 2.3spg, 7/14 3pt. & 61.7%. Shawn was his usual all-around great self vs. the Nets with 33, 9, 3 asst, 3 stls & 3/6 from 3pt. No one dives to the basket like Marion; Nash does make this easier, though.
Kobe--A gimpy ankle can't slow him down--Kobe's 34 & 8 rebs leads LA past the Spurs today. Kobe averaged 27ppg, 4rpg, 2.7spg, 9/19 3pt, & 51.7% for the week. Sort of scary considering his hops are still subpar.
Jarrett Jack--Emerging as a solid PG with little fanfare. Right now is Portland's second option with Brandon Roy on the shelf and responded with a great week--19ppg, 7apg & 4rpg, including a 30 pts, 10 assts nite @ Milwaukee. Uses his size well on both ends of the floor.
Honor Mention: Dirk; D. Howard; Jamison; Redd; Bron; Diaw; Amare; Yao; McGrady; Joe Johnson; Wade; Z. Randolph; Baron; Ruben Patterson; L. Walton; Billups
Games of the Week:
Suns @ Magic (Mon)--Let's see if the Suns can keep their hot East Coast swing alive vs. the best team in the East. Orlando has one of the better defensive units around & surely will be tested. Dwight vs. Amare is a very intriguing matchup.
Mavs @ Jazz (Mon)--Second big contest on Monday vs. two of the better rebounding teams in the NBA.
Lakers @ Rockets (Tues)--Will see how the Lakers fare away from the friendly confines of Staples after enjoying 15 homes games so far. Always love to see the Kobe-TMac matchup.
Lakers @ Mavs (Wed)--Tough back2back for LA.
Rockets @ Lakers (Fri)--2nd meeting of the week between these squads, this time in LA.