Week in Review (Nov 20-Nov 26)
Analysis of the week that was in the NBA.
Mavs--Hottest team in the league with a 9-game winning streak. 4-0 this week with a big victory vs. the Spurs on the road. Whatever was bothering this team at the start of the season has been left behind. The defense seems to be getting back to where Avery likes it--held their 4 opponents to a combined 41.6% this week. Also, pounding the glass like last year: rebounding margin of +7 per game this week, and one of the top reb. teams in the NBA.
Pistons--Quietly re-establishing themselves as the class of the East conf. Although, that's not saying that much, seeing how mediocre the East is--it's like it's the NFC of basketball. But the Pistons have to be commended for going 4-0 this week & rattling off 6 wins in a row. Shot the 3-ball well this week--42.3%--and are one of the top 3pt shooting teams this season.. Also, continued to keep their TOs down (11.25 per) & held a +5 per game advantage in TOs this week. The Pistons avg. the least amount of TOs in the NBA.
Nugs--7-1 the last 2 weeks, 5 wins in a row, & 4-0 this week. Putting up points in bunches (lead the league) & shooting the ball at a pretty good clip overall. But still one of the worst 3pt. shooting teams in the NBA, and it's scary to think how bad this team's long-range shooting would be if JR Smith was not around. What's somewhat impressive, is Denver is doing so well while defending so little--near the bottom in Def FG% & Def 3pt. FG%. Although, they compensate by causing alot of turnovers and being one of the better rebounding teams in the league. But that outside shooting has to be cleaned up or the Nugs are going to have trouble getting out of the 1st round.
Suns--Like the Mavs, starting to resemble the team we expected to see at the start of the year. 4-0 this week, with the offense looking highly efficient like last year--49.7% overall for the week & a nice 42.3% from 3pt. On top of that, Amare seems to be getting his wheels underneath him, which should be a scary thought for the rest of the NBA. But here comes the same old refrain--the rebounding & defense need to be improved. The defense was not too bad this week, but the Suns have not been too good for the entire season. Also, the Suns are one of the worst board teams in the NBA, and the Suns were -3.8 on the boards per game this week & also gave up 13 off. boards per, as well. It is not a good sign when the Warriors beat you by 10 on the boards knowing that the Warriors are one of the weakest reb. squads in the league as well.
Not so Hot Teams:
Wizards--0-4 this week & lost 7 out of their last 8 games. A little surprising the Wiz are having trouble putting up points--scored less than 83 pts 3 times this week. The Wiz shot 39.5% overall this week & only 30% from 3pt. Arenas was a reason for this swoon by shooting 32.5% this week. Gil has been highly inconsistent this year. Although, I have not watched every Wiz game, it probably has to be connected with his customary horrid shot selection.
Clips--After a sharp start to their season, the Clips have started to struggle lately (0-4 this week). They did not look good today vs. the Nugs, but it was a back2back on the road. Their frontline has underproduced up til now, and now Kaman is out for a few weeks & Brand is complaining about fatigue leftover from the Worlds. Not a good sign when you have very little depth behind them. Dunleavy needs to establish Brand in the post more often, but it does not help that the Clips are one of the worst 3pt. shooting teams, which makes it more enticing to collapse into Elton's lap.
Nets--I probably could have devoted a spot for the entire Atlantic division, but I'm sticking with the one team I had hope for in the division. Had a real rough West Coast trip (0-4 this week). You can understand the road losses to the Suns & Lakers, but they were leading for most of each game with the Sonics & Blazers, and failed to put the teams away. This seems to be the M.O. in the most of the Nets' losses: they will come out in the 1st half looking good, especially on defense, then they just let the opposition slowly chip away at the lead in the 2nd half--it happened today, as well. It is sort of hard to explain why the Nets struggling so much. They have been shooting the ball well for the season & shot the ball at a 48% clip this week. Their defense was not great this week, but they have been one of the top defensive clubs in the league this season. They also outrebounded their comp this week by 7.8 per game. You can see the talent on the court--Carter, Kidd & Krstic have played well so far. Jefferson has been sidetracked by an ankle, & the bench has been pretty decent. Very perplexing. The one thing the Nets do have a knack for is poor execution at the end of a game. This was a major reason for the Nets losing Games 3-5 vs. the Heat, and it seems to have carried over to this year. Carter seems to me to be the biggest culprit--he's just way too carefree with the ball, likes he's playing in a pick-up game or something.
Players of the Week:
Dirk Nowitzki--Gets my vote for MVP-o-week. Led his team to a 4-0 week & a big victory over the Spurs where he dropped 31 & 10. Averaged 28ppg, 11.8rpg, 3.3 apg & 58% shooting this week. Right behind Boozer for MVP of the season (so far).
A. Biedrins--Dropped 16.3ppg, 12.5 rpg, 3.8 bpg. Leading the league in FG% with 71.3%. & also one of the leaders in blocks as well. Went off for 31 & 10 on 14/17 vs the Nugs. Also, had a not too shabby nite vs. the Jazz with 14 pts, 17 rebs & 5 blks.
C. Boozer--Even with a terrible showing vs. the Warriors (4 pts), he still managed 25.5 ppg on 62.3% & 12rpg this week. That Warriors' game was a classic case of a back2back game on the road for the Jazz--Boozer had scored at least 30 pts for 3 games in a row, then fell off to 4 pts., while his team tumbled to combined 32.5%. Still the MVP of the season, but Dirk is gaining fast with the Mavs picking up steam.
Luol Deng--Seems to be emerging as the Bulls' primary scorer. Probably a good thing since Ben Gordon is just too erractic to be a #1 scorer. Averaged 24.6ppg on 58% & 6.3rpg. Nice little mid-range game with nice length that helps him rebound well for a SF.
Monta Ellis--Would be the favorite for the Most Improved Player if were not for the play of another 2-guard 80 miles away. Not sure anyone thought Ellis would be emerge this quickly--17.8ppg & 7.3apg this week--has scored in double figures in every game but one this season.
David Lee--Mentioned him in my shout-out to the Knicks' bench last week. Love the energy he brings off the bench. Pitched in 11 ppg & 10.8 rpg on 55%. Lee is currently 3rd in the NBA in FG%. Has a pretty ugly shot, but does most of his damage close to the basket with strong finishing ability.
Kevin Martin--Let's just anoint him as the new K-Mart. You bet I like pimping him since he was my fantasy draft steal-of-the-year, but he is making it very easy for me, so I don't feel so bad. 28.6ppg, 5rpg, 59% from the floor, & 9/14 from 3pt. for the week. 25ppg & 5rpg for the season on a sweet 54.5% overall & 49% from 3pt. for the hell of it.
Eric Dampier--Never thought I would see his name on this list, but has been surprisingly consistent the last 2 weeks--11.1ppg & 9.7rpg on 72%. Helped the Mavs with 8ppg & 8.8 rpg on 63% shooting this week, plus 11 & 9 vs. the Spurs. On top of that, he continues to provide a nice defensive presence in the paint & once again did the best he could vs. Duncan. Also, Damp is currently 2nd in the league in FG%. He can give this team some post points that are lacking because every other Mav loves the jumper so much. Can Damp keep this up? Well, Damp has never been known for consistent play before, but maybe Avery has finally gotten thru to him. If Damp can keep this up, he could be the X-factor for the Mavs to get out of the West.
Honorable Mention: Billups; Bosh; Bron; Deron Williams; Kobe; D-Wade; D. Howard; Redd; Duncan; Pierce; R. Lewis; J. O'Neal; Iggy; Willie Green; Iverson; Garnett; J. Johnson; Z. Randolph; Amare; Nash; Raja Bell; Tayshaun
Games of the Week:
Magic @ Jazz (Mon)--Best team in the East vs. the best of the West. Will see if the Magic are as legit as their record.
Rockets @ Suns (Wed)--Two of the top teams in the West. Polar opposites in style--grind-out, defensive-minded Rockets vs. the speed-it-up, defense-less Suns.
Spurs @ Jazz (Wed)--Battle we been waiting for. Top 2 teams in the league right now.