Week in Review (Jan 1-7)
Players of the Week:
Garnett--MVP-o-week. KG led the TWolves to 4-0 week, and dropped 27, 17 rbs, 7 assts, & 3blks on the Spurs for a victory. KG laid down 27.5, 14.5, & 5 apg for the week.
D. Nowitzki--Dirk's week rivaled KG's--Dirk put up 29, 10.8, 2.5 apg on 51.2% shooting--but had to give the edge to KG for the undefeated week. Dirk was the best player on the floor in the Spurs-Mavs tilt (36 & 8 for Dirk), and I loved his aggressiveness late in the game where he was looking to penetrate when Duncan was matched up on him.
T. McGrady--T-Mac has been professing the skills of his new back specialist lately and whatever manipulation that dude did to TMac surely worked wonders this week--Tracy laid down 35.3, 7 rpg, & 4.3 apg this week, including 44 & 9 rbs in a 14-point victory over the Jazz.
C. Bosh--Another guy coming back from injury, Bosh returned to action on Monday after missing the last 12 games. And he seems to have not missed a beat--Bosh had 23.7, 11.3 rpg, 3.7 apg & 52% shooting for the week. This is a great sign for the Raptors who lead the Atlantic right now, and have a very favorable schedule coming up.
Luol Deng--Continues his highly efficient play this week: 23.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, & 58% shooting. You love this type of rebounding & shooting percentage from your SF position--Deng is currently 13th in the NBA in FG%, for primary perimeter players only Ruben Patterson is higher.
Manu--After starting off the season struggling with his shooting, Manu has settled into a nice groove lately. Manu was the one bright spot for the Spurs this week--22.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2 spg, and ended the week by going 10/15 overall for 34 pts vs. the Grizzlies. Manu went 12/23 from long-range this week, including 6/8 on Sunday, and increased his season 3pt. % to 44%, which puts him in 8th-place for 3pt. %.
Caron Butler--Everyone wants to pile the praise onto Gilbert, and he rightfully deserves kudos for his play the last few weeks, but Caron has probably been the most consistent Wizard for the entire season. Another nice week for Caron: 26.7, 6.7 rpg, 5.7 apg, & 67% shooting. Caron is shooting 50% on the season on top of 21 ppg, 8 rpg, & 4 apg; great numbers for a SF. Butler needs to get heavy consideration for the All-Star game. Besides Lebron, no one is playing better in the East at the SF.
Mark Blount--Yeah, I really never thought I would ever have to put his name on this list, but he was vital to the TWolves' undefeated week. Mark has been playing with more fire lately--has scored over 15 per the last 6 of 7 games--and continued the play this week with 21.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, & 56% shooting (Blount is currently 12th in FG%). The most promising fact of his recent play is his rebounding, which has always been woefully inadequate for a center. Maybe Coach Casey has finally gotten thru to Blount.
Drew Gooden--Might have been the most consistent Cav this week with Bron having a subpar week (for him). Drew was his usual force on the glass (11 per this week) & two games with 6 off. rebs (one of the top off. boardmen in the NBA), but it was his scoring that was a refreshing jolt for the Cavs--18.8 ppg on 58%, including a 31-point game & a 21-point performance.
Honor Mention: Arenas; R. Allen; T. Allen; Artest; Bibby; Boozer; Brand; Crawford; Curry; B. Davis; Gasol; R. Hamilton; Al Harrington; Josh Howard; M. Miller; Nocioni; J. O'Neal
TWolves--Talk about a team that is flying under the radar. They continue to be one of the stingiest defensive units in the league under Coach Casey. Although, the TWolves need to improve their 3pt shooting, but that might be hard to do internally with only Mike James being a viable long-distance threat.
Suns--Showed this week they could finish off close games, something they couldn't last year. The defense has looked better the last few weeks as well, and was solid this week (44.4 Def Fg% in 4 games). This definitely bodes well for the playoffs. Even though the Suns were outrebounded by an average of 4.5 per, their defensive rebounding was pretty good, and has been solid for the season--another factor that is an encouraging sign for the playoffs.
Lakers--Big win at home vs. the Mavs (snapping their 13-game win streak) to cement their place on this list after a 3-0 week. The Lakers averaged 118.7 ppg this week on an impressive 51.8%. The Lakers also had a 44.4% Def FG% for the week, including holding the Mavs to 42.2%. Of course Kobe led the way--25.3 ppg, 8.3 apg, 7.7 rpg this week--but the Lakers also got great input from the likes of A. Bynum, Smush, B. Cook, Turiaf, & Mo Evans. But Luke Walton was the key supporting actor--he put up 18.3 ppg, 5.3 apg, 5.3 rpg, & 58% shooting for the week.
Not so Hot Teams:
Spurs--Thought I'd never see their name on this list, but they had a rough week. 1-3 this week with tough losses to Minny, Clev., & Dallas. Although, the losses to the Cavs (82-78) & Wolves (103-101) were on back2back nites on the road. But the Mavs' game was a tough pill to swallow considering it was at home & the Spurs were leading for most of the game. They just could not finish the Mavs off. Duncan's foul shooting did not help things down the stretch (6/13 for the game). Also, it was apparent that the Spurs missed the services of Elson, who is probably the best defender on Dirk. Another thing that became a glaring issue this week, was the lack of scoring punch beyond the Big 3 of Parker, Manu, & Duncan. I can see why the Spurs are considering a deal for Maggette--they could really use his scoring pop off the bench.
Sonics--The season is slowly sliding away in soggy Seattle. Granted, this was a tough week for the Sonics with 4 games in 5 days, they still have to be criticized for getting pounded by an average margin of 13.3 points per game. I understand Rashard is out and they had 3 road games this week, but to get rocked by 18 at home to the Knicks is unacceptable. Seattle kept up its bargain as one of the worst defensive teams in the league by letting their opponents shoot a combined 48.2% for the week, and compounded problems on the defensive end by allowing 16.8 off rebs. per game for the week--the Sonics had a 61% Def. Reb. percentage for the week, which is absolutely dreadful. But this is not too surprising since Seattle is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league and the 3rd worst def. rebounding unit in the NBA.
Games of the Week:
Rockets @ Bulls (Mon)--You want defense, you got it. But who will the Bulls put on red-hot McGrady? You might see a healthy dose of Sefolosha.
Mavs @ Jazz (Tues)--Last time these two teams played in Salt Lake on Dec. 11, the Jazz crushed the Mavs 101-79. The Jazz did a great job on defense & the boards & Boozer was a force. Will see how the Mavs respond after their recent loss to the Lakers.
Lakers @ Rockets (Wed)--The Lakers go on the road to prove their mettle after having a cushy early season schedule heavy on the home games.
Cavs @ Suns (Thurs)--Both teams were undefeated this week, and the game has a decent chance for being a preview of the NBA Finals.
Magic @ Suns (Sat)--Tough second nite of a back2back (Lakers on Fri) for a hot Magic team. Always love watching the Amare-Dwight matchup, two of the freakish physical wonders of the NBA.