Friday, December 5, 2008

One Month In...

Coach is glad he got the negative energy out regarding Marbury and Plax the other day, it was really weighing on me and apparently the Giants as well after their sub-par performance against the Eagles this past Sunday.

Time to take a look at the NBA after a five weeks of action.
Today we give props to the top 3 teams in the Association.

Clearly the Lakers and the Celtics start the conversation. Both are playing at a very high level, both look very hungry and as of right now both are side by side with no one else close at the top of the league.

The Lakers sit at 17-2, they have the strongest 2nd unit in the league, Andrew Bynum is back in the lineup playing strong and Kobe is playing great team ball. Right now as long as the Lakers stay healthy they will run away record wise in the west and secure homecourt through the Western Conference finals. When you look at the Lakers schedule you are at the point where you are searching for back to backs on the road to see where they could possibly stumble. There are actually two back to back's later this month the week leading up to LA hosting Boston on Christmas day. On December 19th the Lakers are in Miami and the next night they are in Orlando, could Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and the Magic take down the Lake show at home? The Lakers then go to Memphis (I know many of you marked your calendars for the battle of the Gasol brothers!) on December 22nd and then hit New Orleans for a battle with the Hornets on the 23rd. You have to figure Coach Byron Scott and the entire team will be looking at that match-up as a measuring stick type of game. Mark your basketball calendar for that contest, and of course for Christmas day.

The Celtics now sit at 20-2, yes, the champs are quietly 20-2 and they have really started to get it going. There are a few things that are becoming quite clear about the Celtics after their first 22 games: 1) Ray Allen after one season under his belt in Boston is going to be far better this year than he was last season, in his first four games of December Ray Ray is 18-35 from behind the three point line and he is shooting a blazing 57% all told from the floor. 2) Rajon Rondo has gone from potential weak link to start last season, to steady playoff performer en route to a championship, to potential all-star this season. His 16 point, 13 rebound 17 assist performance last week against the Pacers was an incredible thing to watch (Especially with Tommy Heinsohn back in the booth following the passing of his wife Helen, that game was a timely gift for Tommy) 3) Tony Allen and Leon Powe are more than capable to add scoring punch off of the bench. Both players have played very well thus far. Leon on the post and the boards, and Tony slashing to the hoop and playing within himself. With James Posey leaving town many asked what would happen to the Celtics bench? While they are not on the level of the Lakers second unit, Powe, T Allen, Eddie House, Big Baby Davis and yes, Brian Scalabrine, have developed some great continuity with that unit. With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as hungry as ever along with the above mentioned the Celtics have a chance to top last season's win total of 66.

The Cleveland Caviliers are clearly in the number three spot at this point behind the Lakers and Celtics. The Cavs are big, physical, and very focused as they have ignored all of the LeBron to New York hype. The Cavs definitely look like a different team from last season as both Delonte West and Mo Williams have been working well together to take a bit of the pressure off of King James. But rather than talk about the individuals on the Caviliers it is the team as ONE UNIT that deserves the praise especially on the defensive end. The Cavs are holding their opponents to 90 ppg on a very stingy 41% from the floor. They rebound collectively with four players averaging 6.5 rpg or higher (James, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas) and have become very efficient offensively scoring 103.5 ppg and shooting 48% as a team from the floor. Cleveland is no longer a one man gang. With 3/4 of a season to go they need to keep distancing themselves from Orlando, Detroit and the rest of the pack to ensure homecourt through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It is early but another Celtics Cavs playoff masterpiece appears to be in the cards 6 months from now.

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