By Albert Luna
It looks like the Warriors just might be making history after all after the latest predictions have them at just under 70 percent odds to break the 72 wins in a landmark season. Other than another undefeated week from the Warriors, the West’s bottom four teams in the playoff picture all seem not to want any part in post season play. Also, the Spurs looked to have already mailed it in this early with the second seed locked up. We have a lot to talk about, let’s get right to it with three things I like and don’t like, plus power rankings.
Like: OKC Thunder play of late
The Thunder have been winners of seven straight after beating the Spurs on Saturday night, although San Antonio did rest all of their starters. Nonetheless, the Thunder seem to have everything clicking at the right time, especially with their two superstars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder have quietly emerged as a legitimate contender in the Western Conference, with both of their games against the Warriors and Spurs being highly competitive losses. It will be interesting to see just how the matchups shake down in what could be a Thunder-Spurs second round matchup.
Don’t Like: Rockets
Houston is simply getting out of hand now. From being the number two seed last year and advancing all the way to the Conference Finals to being on the brink of not making the playoffs altogether, this has been one of the worst year-to-year drop-offs in recent NBA history. With James Harden seemingly putting up MVP numbers, it is a question as to whether or not the Beard actually carries that much value as a player, given they play better with him off the floor more often times than not. It doesn’t help either when you have Dwight Howard with essentially one foot out of the door for most of this season as most signs point towards the center leaving in free agency this season.
Don’t Like: LeBron’s week of comments
LeBron had quite the interesting week for most of the wrong reasons. The Cavs star unfollowed the team’s social media accounts which caused a big ruckus from many NBA followers. Several days later, an article ran that had LeBron quoted as saying he would like to team up with buddies Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony sometime in the future, which also created a media frenzy. Maybe not so coincidentally the Cavs forward also had two triple doubles in the week after having just one the entire first four months of the season.
1) Golden State Warriors – 73-9 is in reach, the only question now is if they could even go 74-8 in that span also. If they were to win out they would have 75 wins. Unbelievable, I know.
2) San Antonio Spurs – With seemingly nothing left to play for this season the Spurs have rested their core the past three games and might use the next three weeks of the season to give their bench some run.
3) Oklahoma City Thunder – For as much talk of the Eastern Conference’s improvement this year, the real power up top still lies in the West with the Thunder being the transition team.
4) Toronto Raptors – An ugly home loss to Houston makes it seem more and more like the Raptors might not be able to catch the Cavs for the first seed in the East.
5) Cleveland Cavaliers – A bit of an easier schedule looms for the Cavs but might have bigger problems if they are going to drop duds like they did Friday in Brooklyn.
6) Los Angeles Clippers – Having won the once Laker-dominated Pacific Division for a franchise record five years in a row and the impending return of Blake Griffin has the Clippers looking like a dark horse.
7) Atlanta Hawks – With the third seed still up for grabs, it might be better to avoid the scorching hot Hornets in the first round for Atlanta.
8) Boston Celtics – Isaiah Thomas has made his case for an all-NBA team this year by guiding Boston to what looks like could be 50 wins, a first in five seasons.
9) Miami Heat – Chris Bosh has basically missed two seasons and the Heat will probably still combine for almost 90 wins in that span, simply an excellent coaching job by the once very much scrutinized Erick Spoelstra.
10) Charlotte Hornets – The Hornets have now transitioned into a team that takes care of the teams it needs to, not an easy thing for some teams to do when they move up a level.
Be sure to check next week, same time, and same place, for the next installment of the NBA Column.
Albert Luna may be reached at Aluna32@NMSU.edu
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