Week in Review (Jan 15-21)
Nets--Here comes the Nets that we expected--4-0 this week, 7 of their last 9. Similar to last year where they got hot in January. But have a big test of a 5-game West Coast road trip starting this week and they just found out that Jefferson will be on the shelf with ankle surgery, so this could be a make or break trip for the Nets. What has helped the Nets' fortunes lately is the increased input of their reserves. Mikki Moore has brought great energy all year, Ed House has been Vinnie Johnson Jr. the last few weeks, Uncle Sliffy has brought his heady play since returning from injury, and Boci Nachbar has been a steady contributor. Another big key has been the turnover situation. The Nets started off the year having one of the worst TO margins, but they slowly have evened out the difference (they forcing more TOs lately) & they had a -6 TOs margin per game this week.
Wizards--Exciting week for the Wiz with two buzzer-beating victories (Jazz & Knicks), an overtime win (Celts) & a pounding of a division rival on the road (Magic). The Wiz are now tied with the Cavs for best record in the East. Their 3 All-Star candidates (Gil, Caron, Jamison) were huge this week. Although, for the Wizards to make a serious run in the playoffs the defense has to be modified. The Wiz are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, & this week they were not too great, & they continued to have problems on their defensive glass (69% Def Rb % is not good).
Mavs--Same old song-n-dance. Best team in the league, with impressive wins over the Lakers & Rockets.
Suns--Basically the same as the Mavs.
Not Hot Teams:
Celts--0-3 this week, 7 losses in a row & 2-14 over the last month. Injuries have really tortured this team all season long. Although, some bright spots are starting to emerge with the recent strong play of guys like Jefferson, Rondo, Delonte, & even a promising week by reserve Allen Ray. Still not totally out of the running in the Sh-Atlantic, but need Pierce back real soon if they want to catch the surging the Nets.
Magic--0-3 this week, lost 5 in a row & got blasted at home in a big division tussle with the Wizards. As has been the problem all year, this team does not have much offensive firepower. Dwight is nice, but he's still somewhat raw in the post, & is really not ready to be a first option yet. And right now there is no real dynamic offensive player on the perimeter. The Magic are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, but they shoot a pretty good percentage which is slighty perplexing. But that perplexion (is that a word? I guess today it is) gets cleared up when you find out the Magic are #1 in turnovers, & the Magic averaged 19 TOs per game this week.
Players of the Week:
Arenas--Tri-MVP-o-Week with Howard & Dirk. Came back with a vengence this week after poor play last week. Gil threw up 29.8, 6.3 rpg, 5.5 apg, 14/33 from 3pt. and surprisingly kept the TOs minimal. Was huge in the Utah game with 51 pts & buzzer-beating 3 to win.
Josh Howard--Tri-MVP-o-Week. Making a strong push for a spot on the Western All-Star team. Great week for Josh--27.3 ppg, 9 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.7 spg, & 53.2% shooting. Also have to consider what a great all-around job he does on the defensive end.
Nowitzki--Another MVP-caliber week (Tri-MVP-o-Week)--26.3, 10.3, 3.3apg on 50% shooting, 'nuff said.
Wade--The Heat struggled this week after a strong run last week, but it was nothing that DWade did--31.8, 7.8 apg, 7 rpg, 2.8 apg on 49% overall.
Okur--Memo equaled the play of his perennial Player-o-week listee teammate, Boozer. Okur was just as important as Booze in the Jazz's 3-1 week all on the road. Okur put up 38 & 9 rebs on 13/22 (4/8 from 3pt) in a near miss loss vs. the Wiz--Memo averaged 27, 7.5 rpg & 51.4 % shooting for the week.
C. Butler--Another player who has been overshadowed all year by an MVP-caliber teammate is Caron. I feel he should be on the East All-Star team as a reserve, the only SF better in the East is Bron. Caron has probably been more consistent nite-2-nite than Arenas has this year. Butler was huge in the Wizards' 1-point win vs. the Knicks with 27, 10 asts, 5 rbs on 11/22, not to mentioned the game-winning basket. Caron averaged 23, 7.5 rpg, 6 apg, & 2.8 spg this week, pretty much in line with his season averages.
Al Jefferson--Really starting to find his bearings the last month or so, & turning into a constant double-double threat. Al was a beast this week in the painted area--21.3, 12.7, & 2 bpg on 50% shooting.
Brand--After a rough few weeks to his season, Brand is starting to approach his productivity of last year. Big E put a hurting on the Warriors with 27, 11, 5 blks, 3 assts, 2stls & 11/13 from the field.
Okafor--Emeka was a all-around force this week with 18 ppg & 13.3 rpg (5.5 off. rpg). The best part of Okafor's play this year is his shooting percentage of 51 %--he shot 70% this week. His shooting percentage was always way too low for a post player in his first two years. He still seems to be too mechanical in his movements & has bad touch on his shot. But there is nothing to complain about on defense where he is a force & Emeka averaged 3.5 bpg this week.
Honor Mention: Boozer; QRichardson; Kidd; Vince; Nash; Amare; Marion; Hinrich; Joe Johnson; D. Lee; Curry; Marbury; McGrady; Jamison; Iverson; Gordon; Cassell; B. Roy; Kobe; Bosh; Gasol
Games of the Week:
Suns @ Wiz (Tues)--The Suns try to seek revenge for one their 2 losses in their last 31 games.
Rockets @ Spurs (Wed)--Rockets are nipping at the heels of the Spurs in the Southwest, and this game could mean the difference between a 3 seed & 5-seed down the road.
Suns @ Cavs (Sun)-- The Cavs try to seek revenge after the Suns mauled them in Phoenix recently.
Spurs @ Lakers (Sun)--Two teams fighting for the 3-seed out West, & the Spurs would like to redeem themselves after dropping a close game vs. the Lakers at home this week.