By Albert Luna
Editor’s Note: This piece was written just before Derek Fisher was released by the Knicks. That part of column, however, still holds true from a roster standpoint.
Well, the Warriors remain unbeaten at home and are still on track to have the best regular season in NBA history. The Oklahoma City Thunder gave the Dubs their only real game this week on Saturday night after Kevin Durant went for 40 points in Oakland and nearly led a comeback.
That being said, the NBA column keeps churning along as we have the all-star break/ game officially on the horizon. Games stop this Thursday for six days to account for the weekend in Toronto (FYI I think Steph Curry isn’t winning the three-point contest), which will give the players a nice break. Let’s get right to it this week recapping the NBA this past week with three things I like and don’t Like, plus power rankings.
Like: The Thunder as a dark horse championship pick
With so much talk this year of the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavs essentially running away with the field in terms of championship odds, the Thunder have very quietly officially emerged as the fourth team and rightfully so. People forget, myself included, just how special Kevin Durant is as a player. He can really get any shot on the floor that he wants and he is so skilled that he in the process makes his teammates better while doing it. Throw in the fact that Russell Westbrook might be the most athletic point guard in the history of the league and you have yourself a legitimate championship-caliber team, regardless of who the other players on the team are.
Don’t Like: The Washington Wizards’ disappointing season
Maybe this is just something that they do. The Wizards have made it to the second round of the playoffs in the past two years and have been a team that many thought was on the upswing, especially with all the young players. However, like anything, their young players have matured a great deal, yet they are having one of the worst season in almost three years. It doesn’t make sense other than the fact that star point guard John Wall can’t do it alone. Many players have either been injured (such as Bradley Beal) or have been too inconsistent this year (players such as Gortat and Nene). Whatever the case is, the Wizards have somehow managed to fall from NBA Finals aspirations.
Don’t Like: The New York Knicks’ last 10 games
The Knicks are a perfect example of a team that has totally lost their identity over the past few weeks. They have gone 1-9 in their last 10 contests and have dropped five in a row. Carmelo Anthony has missed some time due to injury yet there still seems to be an enigma about this team. In my opinion, I think that can fall directly on the shoulders of head coach Derek Fisher. After getting into a fight during the off season with NBA player Matt Barnes in a situation that seems to develop more and more layers as time goes on, it certainly isn’t a good look for Fisher and the Knicks going forward. I really do expect a big roster shake up going forward for the Knicks, and it should start on the bench.
- Golden State Warriors—It’s about time the Warriors got some competition in Saturday’s game versus the Thunder. There was only eight points’ difference in the Warriors 46th season victory. The next question: will these boys lose again? If so, when?
- San Antonio Spurs—The Spurs dominated Friday night in Dallas by handing the Mavs one of their worst losses ever. One night later? They almost dropped a home game to the Kobe-led Lakers in his final game in San Antonio. Strange, I know.
- Cleveland Cavaliers—LeBron’s team experienced their first losing streak under new head coach Tyron Lue, albeit it lasted just two games.
- Oklahoma City Thunder—As stated above, I think the Thunder have proven they are as hungry as ever to chase the championship this year, but it just might be the toughest year from a competition point of view.
- Toronto Raptors—Just two games behind the Cavs for first in the East, the Raptors have upheld their momentum going into the All-Star break, which is one of the more surprising feats at this point in the season.
- Los Angeles Clippers—I wish there was a number that could separate five and six more, because starting with the Clips, the drop off in overall team quality is immense and drastic.
- Memphis Grizzlies—After a bad start, the Grizzlies were a season-best 10 games over .500 before Saturday’s O.T. loss to the Mavs.
- Miami Heat—The Heat picked up two good road wins this week before falling at home to the Clippers on Sunday, which kind of describes the inconsistency by Miami in the best of ways.
- Boston Celtics— Look at the Celtics all of the sudden. With the help of a greatly enjoyable Avery Bradley game-winning three in Cleveland, the Celtics are riding a four-game win streak and have won nine of 10.
- Atlanta Hawks—Rumors of Atlanta making Al Horford and Jeff Teague available on the market shows just how much better the East has gotten this year, or simply how much worse Atlanta has regressed.
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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