By Albert Luna
The long-awaited battle of the Spurs and Warriors was exactly the opposite of what everyone thought it would be: a blowout. Not only did this past week’s worth of NBA action feature two marquee matchups (Warriors-Spurs and Spurs-Cavs), but also a few historical moments and yet another coach being fired Monday morning. We have a lot to talk about, so let’s get right to this week’s three things I like and don’t like, plus power rankings.
Like: The Championship being locked up in January
I realize so many things can happen between now and June—trades, injuries, and simply bad luck. However, I don’t think there has ever been a season when there was such an odds-on favorite to take the entire championship so soon in the season. The Warriors, after getting out to the best start in league history, still had to face the two teams ranked right below: Cavaliers and the Spurs. One week after dismantling the Cavs, they just as equally embarrassed the Spurs on their home floor. With the Spurs figuring to be Golden State’s biggest matchup for this year, it does not seem anyone can really compete with these Warriors, at least not for now.
Don’t Like: The Lakers’ lack of heart
The Los Angeles Lakers now have tied their longest losing streak in franchise history, with 10 defeats in a row. The biggest problem I have here is they have better talent than what their record suggests. The Lakers are certainly not the 76ers, who are trotting out players who don’t belong in the NBA, so why are they only two games better than them? It is mindboggling that a team with Kobe Bryant, former all-star Roy Hibbert, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, and talented young players Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle can’t get to 10 wins at the halfway point of the season. They are better than this and they need some sort of motivation to prove it.
Like: The All-star reserves
They might have finally gotten the all-star game right this year. With the exception of snubs Pau Gasol and even Dirk Nowitzki, the all-star reserves consensus was that it was fairly accurate. Players who deserved to get into the game did, such as Andre Drummond and Demarcus Cousins. On the other end of the spectrum, so too did the players who simply missed too much time or were not as good as we would like them to be (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love). Despite predicting that there would be some unfair nods this year, with Kobe and Dwyane Wade being the lone exceptions, the rest of the roasters look to be fair and right.
- Golden State Warriors—One night after a scare against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Warriors went into New York and handily beat the Knicks, despite Steph Curry having his worst game of the year.
- San Antonio Spurs—After collecting two sizeable losses against other elite teams in one week, the Spurs are starting to look a little bit like a team that needs to regain their edge. Yet, as always, the Spurs will probably prove everyone wrong come playoff time.
- Cleveland Cavaliers—The Cavs rebounded well this week, especially with Saturday night’s big win over the Spurs. Cleveland is quietly looking better now since the firing of former coach David Blatt. Let’s see if this can continue.
- Toronto Raptors—The Raptors are officially the hottest team in the league right now after their win streak increased to 11 over the weekend. It is also nice to see the Raptors get two all-stars (Lowry and DeRozan) in the game this year.
- Oklahoma City Thunder—The Thunder are the best team in the West in the past 10 games, going 9-1 and winning their last three. They beat bad teams and handle their business against above-average teams, as well.
- Los Angeles Clippers—The fact Blake Griffin can break his hand while already out with another injury has many questioning just how far the Clippers can get with Griffin as their superstar. Let the (silly) trade rumors begin.
- Memphis Grizzlies—A bad start to the season could not hold down these Grizzlies for long. They find themselves as the fourth best team in the league in the past 30 games, after the bad start made them wake up.
- Miami Heat—Four straight wins and a blowout of the reeling Hawks have the Heat tied for fourth in the East, with Dwyane Wade and company suddenly looking rejuvenated.
- Chicago Bulls—Getting blown out on National TV certainly does not help the Bulls’ case a day later in the power rankings. Inconsistency remains a big issue for the team, but what’s new?
- Dallas Mavericks—The Mavs lose to teams they should lose to and beat the teams they should beat, no real surprises either way. Despite overachieving greatly in many people’s eyes this season, the Mavs are the definition of an average, solid team in this season’s NBA.
Be sure to check back next week, same time, for the latest installment of the NBA column.
Albert Luna may be reached at ALuna32@NMSU.edu
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