Week in Review (Nov 27-Dec 3)
Mavs--Just keep chugging along. Best team in the league right now. 12 wins in a row, 3-0 this week. Good week even with Dirk having a somewhat subpar set of games. Dampier continues to play solid, which is a great sign for the Mavs. Pounded their opponents on the glass--avg. rebound margin of +10.3 per. Also, shot the 3-ball extremely well this week--46.3%
Bulls--Righted the ship a little this week (3-0). Home victories vs. the Knicks & the Wiz, and a nice road win vs. the Hornets. Like the Mavs, owned the glass this week (+8 rb margin). The defense is starting to stabilize itself after a spotty beginning, and the Bulls continue to force a ton of TOs this week--18.3 per. Chicago is one of the best teams in the NBA at forcing TOs and they have the best TOs margin in the NBA, which has helped their overall defense, with their Def Fg% being higher than usual.
Magic--Even though they got blasted today by the Clips, have to give them props for winning 3 games out West, especially the decisive win in Salt Lake. I was a little skeptical of the Magic going into this week, even though their overall team stats were impressive. But they proved alot to me by totally controlling the Jazz on the road. Their defense is legit with Dwight, Darko, & Battie patrolling the paint. I wasn't sure their defense was up to snuff in the pre-season because I thought they had sketchy perimeter defenders. Therfore, I felt there would be too much pressure put on the bigs to cover up mistakes, but I guess it does not matter. Still near the top of the key stat catergories of FG%, Def FG%, & rebounding. But they have to keep an eye on the TOs.
Not so hot teams:
Sixers--After their unlikely 3-0 start, Philly is 2-11. 0-3 this week, while shooting an average of 39% from the floor & giving up an avg. of 53.2% overall; that is not a good recipe for success. The Sixers are now rounding into as poor of a defensive team as last year, and are near the bottom of Def Fg% for the season. On top of this, Webber is toast and looks incapable of scoring 20 pts in game ever again.
Blazers--Not a good week to go 0-3 at home when they have 6-game road trip starting. Blazers have lost 5 straight, and are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, which was made clear this week--the Blazers allowed an avg. of 50.9% from the floor. Not much was expected of the Blazers this year, so I guess this is not that surprising.
Players of the Week (Some obvious, some not so):
Dwight Howard--Helped Orlando to a 3-1 week (all on road) and a huge road win vs. the Jazz that showed the NBA that the Magic are indeed legit. 20 ppg, 13rpg, & 3 bpg on a blistering 68% in 4 games this week. His 21 & 16 neutralized Boozer in Salt Lake. Just one of the most imposing physical presences in the NBA. Right now he dominates with his body, it will be scary to think if/when he refines his skill set more.
Joe Johnson--Has been playing like an all-star all season. Joe threw up 33ppg, 6apg, 5rpg and shot 13/31 from 3pt & 56% overall. Joe has been averaging 28ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.1 apg for the season. On top of that, he is shooting 50.6% overall & 40% from 3pt (great numbers for a perimeter player). He seems to have stepped up & taken the #1 scoring role in Atlanta with aplomb.
Kobe--You knew we were in store for an explosion sometime before the New Year's. Kobe dropped the science on the Jazz on Thursday nite with 52 points and a silly 3rd quarter of 30 pts. Kobe was in one of his zones where he was making any kind of shot he wanted. Kobe avg. 32 ppg, 5 apg, & 4 rpg this week. Even with these numbers, Kobe still does not seem to have all his hops back after knee surgery and there is some debate if he will ever get it all back.
Boozer--The Booz Crooz just keeps on rolling. Once again on the weekly list even with 2 losses this week--when you avg. 23.5ppg, 10rpg, 3.3apg & 60.6% shooting, it's hard to leave you off. Still my pick for the MVP (so far), but Dirk, Dwight, Duncan, Melo & Kobe are gaining fast.
A. Bargnani--Pretty solid week for the #1 pick--12.5 ppg & double figure points in all 4 games this week. Right now the bulk of his offense comes from his sweet perimeter jumper on catch & shoot situations. Can be a nice pick & pop guy for years to come, but needs to work on his shooting off the dribble if he wants to be the next Dirk. He tried to create his shot a few times vs. the Knicks, was not pretty.
Ed Curry--Is this the turning point for Ed? Who knows. Big Ed laid down 24.8 ppg on 60% & 8.3 rpg this week. Has scored over 20 for 6 games straight. Was a beast on the low block vs. the Raps, where he showcased his nimble feet & could not be stopped. Encouraging that he's actually making more of an effort to rebound. Maybe Isiah has gotten thru to him.
Hakim Warrick--Someone who is flying under the radar but needs to be in consideration for Most Improved Player with KMart, Biedrins & M. Ellis. 21.3ppg, 4rpg & 55.8% from the floor this week--is shooting 51.6% this year, up from 44.3% last year. Still should be a little bit better rebounder with his length & hops. Good sign for the Grizzlies because they need to find someone who can consistently score more than 15 per anywhere they can.
Caron Butler--Been the best player on the Wiz so far. With Arenas being highly erratic & jacking up his usual array of awful shots, Caron has been steady--22 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.6apg & 50% this week. Only taking 14 shot attempts per game for the year, while the "point guard" is chucking up nearly 20 shots per.
A. Nocioni--Has come on strong the last couple weeks. 21.7ppg, 5.3 rpg, 10/17 from 3pt. & 51% overall this week. Really has regained his 3pt stroke lately (25/53) after starting the first 2 weeks shooting 4/16. And has been bringing his patented spastic energy on both ends of the floor.
Honor Mention: Duncan; LeBron; Randolph; Wade; Iverson; Bosh; T. Prince; Dampier; Melo; Vince; S. May; J. O'Neal; KG; Amare; Marion; Nash; Raja Bell; Redd; L. Odom; TJ Ford: J-Kidd; R. Lewis
Games of the Week:
Pistons @ Mavs (Thur)--Could be a preview of the Finals. Two of the hottest teams in the NBA.
Pistons @ Magic (Fri)--Tough back2back road game for the Pistons. Battle of the 2 best East Conf. teams right now.
Nugs @ Mavs (Sat)--Let's see if the Nugs can bring their high-flying act on the road vs. a real challenge.
Spurs @ Lakers (Sun)--Last game of the week, and should not disappoint.