Back on top following a three-game winning streak topped by Steph Curry’s re-emergence as the flame-throwing savant everyone knows him to be. Kevin Durant resumes basketball activities, the No. 1 seed is within range, and Curry and Klay Thompson are back to splashing. The dark days of early March are turning into a bright spring for the Warriors.
San Antonio’s a fascinating team to talk about. No one disputes Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance. No one argues that the Spurs and Popovich could very well make a run to the NBA Finals. But there are concerns about the rest of the roster and whether this team is a paper tiger, or a sleeping giant. It feels so stupid to doubt a projected 60-plus-win team with Popovich and Kawhi, but there’s something people that watch nightly can’t put their finger on with this team.
LeBron James pretty clearly wants the MVP. Saturday night vs. the Clippers was a chance for him to win a marquee game on his own in a season where he’s averaging a career-high in assists and rebounds. No wonder he was mad the Cavs rested him, regardless of whether it was the right decision or not.
The Wizards’ offensive revelation under Scott Brooks is truly Coach of the Year worthy. However, since the All-Star Break, they are 25th in defense. They need to fix that end of things. That’s what makes them a better squad than the rest of the Eastern Conference contenders.
James Harden now holds the record for most triple-doubles with 40 points in a season with six. That’s just amazing. His season has been every bit as incredible as Russell Westbrook’s, and vice versa, no matter who wins the MVP. Also, the Rockets are now 13-1 on back to backs this season
after Saturday’s win in Denver.
The Celtics were sixth in the offense and 18th in defense before the All-Star break. Since then, they are 26th on offense and fourth in defense. So there’s good news and bad news, I guess? They have to win the game Monday against Washington.
The most impressive job that Erick Spoelstra has done every season is how the offensive efficiency improves month by month. The past two years he’s just found solutions to fix those problems and it makes them better by year’s end than at the start.
OKC’s playing its best basketball at the right time. They host the KD-less Warriors again Monday, then face the Beard’s Rockes next weekend. They need a good week to keep putting pressure on Utah for the fourth seed.
The Jazz have opened the door for the Clippers and Thunder to sneak the fourth-seed from them. A strong finish to the season is imperative. Their tiebreaker situation is perilous. Their Saturday matchup with the Clippers is a must-win.
The Raptors had a good week to stabilize as they wait for Kyle Lowry’s return. They need to take advantage of a soft stretch of schedule; there’s still a chance for them to steal a top-3 seed and avoid Cleveland in the first round.
It feels very awkward that they took off, winning four straight, the minute Chandler Parsons was put on the shelf. But either way, the Grizzlies just beat the Hawks and Spurs, and still have a puncher’s chance at the No. 4 seed. Too bad they have the Warriors and Spurs, both on the road this week.
Riddle me this. Who wants a piece of Giannis Antetokounmpo and a young, hungry Bucks team with nothing to lose in a first-round series? No one. That’s who. OK, that was a bad riddle. It was pretty obvious. But still!
Their win Sunday vs. Miami, on a second night of a back-to-back, was massive. They’re in the driver’s seat with a cupcake schedule from here on out to claim the No. 8 seed and face Golden State or San Antonio.
Sorry, you don’t get credit for beating the shell of the Cavaliers on Saturday. They’ve lost three of four, but Utah’s struggles have left the door open for them to take the No. 4 seed, still. Their Saturday matchup vs. Utah is going to be crucial for them. Bigger than that, though, they need to get themselves in a place where they’re not disgusted with their play, as they have been lately.
Atlanta has the third-worst offense in the league since the All-Star break, and are ranked 25th since Jan. 1. How are they going to create enough offense in a playoff series to take down the kind of firepower they’re going to face in either a 4-5 or 3-6 matchup?
Well, that’ll do it. A three-game losing streak puts them five back in the loss column, and with Portland streaking, that’s just probably too deep a well for the Wolves to pull out of. This summer is going to be tough to figure out where they should go from here, and how they make the leap they need to, outside of just internal development.
I’m calling it. That Sixers loss was it. They’ve got the Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, Thunder this week. Stick a fork in the Fighting Carlisles. (Note, this will all be changed next week when Carlisle finds a way for them to go 3-1 this week.)
Two years ago the Brooklyn Nets were this lifeless dredge of a team. They were just a chore to watch. They still made the playoffs, and still found a way to give Atlanta a hard time despite having zero chemistry, nothing exciting about them, and no hope for the future. The Bulls are now the 2015 Nets. And their win vs. Utah shows how they could still very well crash the party and make us all suffer watching them for another two weeks.
The playoffs are handing the Hornets their coat and saying, “So great to see you guys! Be safe on he way home! No, don’t worry about your casserole dish, I’ll bring it to the office on Monday. Bye now!” But the Hornets just won’t take the hint. It’s time to shut down Batum and Kemba for the year and make changes to the bench this summer.
Too little, too late. They’ve won four of five, but their post-All-Star dip put them five back in the loss column. Even with games remaining vs. Denver, they probably won’t be able to jump out of the lottery. Also, the fact that they keep winning games when Cousins is out is getting really awkward.
I like their young core. I like the stars they’ve now sat for the season. I like their veterans. So why was this team so wretched? At some point, it sure doesn’t look like talent is the issue, but they are still young, and will only get younger this summer.
Do you ever think about tracking down Phil Jackson’s voicemail number and then just leaving a constant string of “The Triangle is not the answer. The Triangle is not the answer” messages? No? Just me? OK, then.
D’Angelo Russell’s post-All-Star surge might have been a few months tardy, but at least it came. They really need him to be their franchise guy, and games like his 40-spot vs. the Cavs on Sunday point in the right direction.
Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein along with Buddy Hield make this team more watchable than they were when Cousins was around. Yeah, they’re worse, but there’s so much untapped potential, it’s fascinating to watch it flourish.