This really isn’t how the script is supposed to work, right? A team that’s on a roll and loses its big man in the middle for the rest of the season is generally supposed to collapse. Not Houston. Well, it helps if you’re going against a regularly dysfunctional and non-defensive oriented Nuggets team. Denver is going to wind up the odd team out in this Western Conference pile-up. So rarely can they bring it all together that it’s becoming obvious. Now — can the Rockets get past the first round without Yao, if they make it? Tracy McGrady’s history works against him, but if the team keeps playing at this level, some predictor will look good taking a flyer on them (especially if they wind up playing a team on the slide like Phoenix.)
Please stop trying to convince me that anyone else outside of Kobe Bryant should be the MVP this year. I will hear other arguments but cannot be compelled otherwise — and just taking over in the 4th quarter and the overtime against the Mavs after a late three by Dirk Nowitzki just keeps fueling my belief. 30 of Bryant’s 52 points came in that last period and the OT. Incredible.
Well, maybe you might make an argument for LeBron James that might change my mind. There is the matter of scoring 37 in the first matchup with the Bulls post-trade deadline, via leading a comeback in the 4th quarter with the Cavs down by 8 with under nine minutes to go. That’s kind of impressive, isn’t it?
Fear the Warriors once again. In a game I’d have killed to have on TV somewhere against the Blazers, Golden State polished off a 4-1 homestand. Stephen Jackson his six from downtown for part of his 29, Monta Ellis added 22. Teams who need to be wary against the Warriors: everyone, but especially Phoenix, Houston, and Dallas in a playoff series.
The Hawks are close to breaking through. A 98-88 loss to the Celtics is no shame, particularly when Paul Pierce busts out for 17 in the 3rd quarter. KG returned to the Celts for a strong game — but seeing what Mike Bibby is doing to help so far is encouraging, and slipping into the Eastern playoffs as an eight seed will be a serious step up this year.
Photo: AP/Pat Sullivan
Filed under: Above The Rim, NBA | Tagged: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers |