By Albert Luna
Saturday night saw what was probably the game of the year for the NBA. The Thunder and the Warriors gave us one of the most enjoyable games in recent memory, with Golden State refusing to lose and somehow coming back from a four-point deficit with 12 seconds left to win the game in overtime. The game put a bow on what was a great month of basketball, including all-star weekend, and gives fans a lot to look forward to as we head down the stretch of the season in March. Here are three things I like and don’t like, plus power rankings.
Like: Stephen Curry redefining the game
All-timers in the NBA always go through peaks in their careers when they cannot be stopped and shatter records and precedents in the process. Stephen Curry is officially an all-timer. Although he was just a good not great player for the first few years of his career, Curry is now unbelievable. His shooting ability has earned him the title of the best shooter in NBA history after breaking his own record for made threes in a season with 24 games still to go. With his shooting, the NBA could realistically see a new era of three-point attempts never before seen, and in the process, also make the game one that could be positionless, or it could just be Curry being one of a kind and me overthinking the whole thing, one of the two.
Don’t Like: Every Cavalier not named LeBron James
LeBron is 31 years old and came to Cleveland under the notion that he would not have to carry as much of an offensive and defensive burden as he did his last years in Miami and in the process continue to preserve his body for the future. His teammates must not have received the memo. Without James in two games this season, the Cavs are awful. After failing to beat Toronto on Friday night in what would have been a signature win, James’ teammates were blown out by the lowly Wizards with the superstar resting on Sunday. This is similar to the Heat absolutely obliterating them with James resting on the second night of a back to back in November. The Cavs need to figure out their identity with James not on the floor, and fast.
Like: The Spurs defending home
For all the talk of the Warriors being able to run the table on their home court, while currently being 24-0 at home, the Spurs are 28-0 on their home floor and have a better margin of victory there compared to the Dubs. It is beyond me why no one is talking about this possibility of going undefeated at home (which has never been done in the regular season) just as much as the Warriors possibility of breaking the 72-10 overall record. Yet in typical Spurs fashion, they will continue to fly under the radar. The one catch in all of this however, is they still need to play the Warriors twice and the Thunder once in their arena.
- Golden State Warriors—Still on pace for the best season of all time and Steph Curry is casually pulling up for game winners against the Thunder at half court, what else is new?
- San Antonio Spurs—Saturday’s thumping of the Rockets was able to secure San Antonio’s 17th straight season of at least 50 wins, the longest streak of all time, and it’s not even that close.
- Oklahoma City Thunder—Contrary to popular belief, I think good teams can have bad losses, as was the case for OKC in their last two meetings with the Warriors. Forget Spurs-Warriors in the playoffs, OKC-GSW might be a far better matchup come post season time.
- Toronto Raptors—Their breakout season continues as they picked up a quality win on Friday night but somehow had a hiccup on Sunday versus the Pistons.
- Cleveland Cavaliers—Unrest seems to be settling in for the Cavs as reports surfaced today that Kyrie Irving is unhappy in Cleveland. Watch out, this might start to get ugly here.
- Los Angeles Clippers—LA has fizzled a bit since their hot streak since the Blake Griffin fallout but are still playing above average basketball, winning seven of their last 11 in the process.
- Boston Celtics—Look at the Celtics! 10 games over .500 and beating the Heat in a good midseason test over the weekend. With the Cavs’ poor play, you have to wonder what these playoffs would have looked like had they made a move at the trade deadline.
- Memphis Grizzles—By no means is Memphis even close to being a contender in the playoffs, but Coach Dave Joerger deserves to be in the conversation for Coach of the Year the way he has led the team since losing Marc Gasol for the season.
- Portland Trailblazers—Out of nowhere, the Blazers are the hottest team in the league. Damian Lillard is playing out of his mind since his all-star snub and has guided the team to wins over the Warriors and Bulls since the all-star break.
- Miami Heat—I’ll give the Heat some love because they have been doing as good of a job as they can with all the injuries they have been dealing with of late. However, the signing of veteran swingman Joe Johnson could give the Heat a nice boost going forward.
Be sure to check next week, same time, same place, for the next installment of the NBA Column.
Albert Luna may be reached at Aluna32@NMSU.edu
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