Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Beasts...

With winter already here as we are a month into the season (damn it is cold today, the wind is crazy) it's time to look at the top shelf of the league. Thus far we have some clear beasts, lets start in the east.

The East:
Both Orlando and Boston are smoking hot. The Magic sit at 16-4, the Celtics at 15-2. Most were worried about the Celtics not being able to keep their stars happy offensively and the point guard position...thus far I have never seen three happier all-stars on the court together. At the point Rajon Rondo has been improving on a weekly basis as his quickness on both ends is becoming a major headache for opponents and his decision making continues to move in the right direction. The real story regarding the Celtics is their ability to play terrific team defense. KG inspired it but the likes of Rondo, James Posey, and Kendrick Perkins have all been very strong and both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have totally bought into what Coach Doc Rivers and Asst. Tom Thibodeau have been preaching. It is not a stretch to say the Celtics should win the next 5 games on the schedule (Toronto, @ Chicago, Sacremento, Milwaukee, @Toronto), which would put them at 20-2 set to host the Pistons on December 19th. Rivers has been consciously getting Pierce, Allen and Garnett some good rest as of late and there is only one back to back on the schedule before the C's travel west right after Christmas. You could not have asked for a better start.

The Orlando Magic are smoking hot. Dwight Howard as we wrote about in the season preview has taken no time to cement himself as the best big in the east and a top 3 big in the league. His numbers are startling, but even more so is his court presence. All of his Magic teammates are benefitting tremendously from the attention his draws from the opposition's defense. First is Rashard Lewis. He is proving he was worth every dollar when Orlando brought him in from Seattle. The decision to play him at the 4 next to Howard by Coach Van Gundy is proving to be a brilliant choice and a nightmare for everyone else. Imagine having to game plan for both guys every night at the 4/5 spots? Exactly. While you'd like to see some better rebounding numbers (5.2 in 39 minutes) his 19 ppg and his ability to stretch the defense with his range and finish in transition have been outstanding. At the 3 spot, Hedo Turkoglu has been lights out getting 18ppg and 6rpg and playing with the confidence and no how of an all-star. This front line is very tough.

The backcourt simply does it's job. Jameer Nelson has gotten it done at the point, directing traffic, getting Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu the touches they need. Next to him is Keith Bogn's who has been tough as nails since he was at Kentucky. His perimeter shooting and gritty defense at the 2 spot has been an intangible for the Magic. The bench has been solid with Carlos Arroyo, Kenyon Dooling and Adonal Foyle, but it just got better as last week they dealt Trevor Ariza to the Lakers for Maurice Evans and Brian Cook. Cook another big they can bring off the bench can strech the defense with his shooting and help on the boards...Evans gives them a boost both defensively and in transition...a good deal for the Magic.

We know the season is a marathon but thus far the Magic and the Celtics are the teams to beat...

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