Week in Review (Jan 29-4) Part II
Jazz--2-1 this week without the Booze. Get extra credit for beating both the Spurs & the Suns on the road. And the loss was 1-point game where the Nets needed a buzzer-beater 3pt. by Vince to win. Okur was superb this week and Deron Williams continues to play like a savvy, 10-year vet & is now on the same level as Chris Paul, contrary to what Hollinger says. I am not really sure why John keeps saying Paul is considerably better than Deron, their numbers are very close across the board, and I love the way Deron runs the offense & understands how to use screens.
Pacers--3-0 this week. Most people will point to the trade as being the impetus for this recent winning, but I think it might have to do as much with the Pacers' schedule leveling off. I actually thought the Pacers overreacted with the need for the trade, becuase at the time they had played 6 more road games than home. Their schedule for the month of February is extremely favorable--they play their next 8 out of 9 games at home. So be careful showering praise on this trade, and take into account their schedule. Maybe the Pacers should have waited for the trade deadline to better assess their situation because the deadline would've coincided with the end of a 6-game home stand.
Raptors--Arguably the biggest overachieving team of the year. Currently 2 games over .500 & leading the Atlantic. Right now, I have Sam Mitchell for Coach-o-Year with the way he has his team playing with a variety of newcomers to integrate & the steady improvement on defense. 3-0 this week, with an average margin of victory of 11.3. Nice win vs. SE division leader, the Wiz, by 10 points. Very underrated bench with Bargnani in the running for R.O.Y., Mo Peterson averaging 11pts & 4 rbs, and Calderon being one of the best back-up points in the NBA.
Mavs--4-0 this week. If you have to power rank teams, they are #1. And they were #1 before the Suns' 2 losses this week since they beat them both times they played.
Not Hot Teams:
Nets--What the hell is going on with this squad? They just finish a 5-game West road trip where they played inspired ball with 2 big wins in Utah & Denver, and lose the 3 other games in the last seconds. They get pounded by the Pistons at home, then get pounded on the road by a Magic team that is reeling of late, and finally top off the week with another back-breaking loss at home to the Hawks; a game they should not lose. They seemed to have reverted back to their early season form of not be able to string any consistency throughout the entirety of a game. I know they have injuries, but this team has chances to win games and they just can't find ways to execute well late in games. Don't forget late-game execution cost them last year vs. the Heat in the 2nd round. Some of this inconsistency has to be laid at the feet of Larry Frank.
Celts/Sonics/Bucks--My best advice is to just keep losing. There's really no reason in trying to win, none of these 3 teams have the requisite talent to get far in the playoffs even when everyone is healthy. I know tanking does not guarantee the top pick, but it sure makes your chances pretty good, and this is the year to tank.
Games of the Week:
Warriors @ Pacers (Mon)--This game is really only interesting because of the subplot of Harrington & Jackson returning to Indy after the trade. Will see if there is extra motivation for Al & Jack or if Lil Dun & Murph want to show Nellie what he's missing.
Suns @ Nugs (Mon)--Will see if the Suns can respond after a tough loss at home. Expect a track meet. Not sure if Iverson is gonna play, so might put a minor damper on this game.
Rockets @ Mavs (Fri)--Two of the top defensive & rebounding teams in the league. Where the Mavs have the upper hand is with a more efficient offense.
Raps @ Pistons (Sat)--This game was probably not circled on your viewing schedule in November, but now it is an intriguing game between division leaders.
Spurs @ Heat/ Lakers @ Cavs (Sun)--Doleac vs. Oberto! Pavlovic vs. Brian Cook! Ok, maybe that will not be ABC's tagline for the Sunday double-header, but the Spurs-Heat tilt has more juice now that Shaq is back.