And What Did We Learn Last Night, Class?
That the Nuggets must be the best team in the NBA, right? Wrong. If that was your answer, you’re stuck in the magic of last week. Last week’s games between the Pistons and Lakers and the Nuggets and Celtics (both on Thursday, November 13) held undeniable playoff implications. Additionally, it seemed as if those games would serve as indicators for the effect that the acquisitions of Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson would have on their new teams. As if it were actually magic, the two teams that met in the Finals last season both lost big. But last night (Thursday, November 20), when the Celtics and the Lakers were given a chance to play against strong conference opponents, the spell was broken. Sorry George Karl, but your squad would have a difficult time against an opponent like the Lakers in a seven-game series. Really, you’re just not big enough.
This past week has taught us a lot about what the real situation in the NBA is. We learned that LeBron’s $20,000 donation to Obama’s campaign was justified because "Yes, he can." He posts huge numbers every night. He is outstanding even in losses like Wednesday’s (November 19) game against the Pistons where he dropped 25, 6, 6 and had 4 steals to top it off. He had 31 in a blowout against the Nets on Tuesday (November 18). If Iverson could get an MVP for what he did in Phili, then give credit to this man, too.
In other Eastern Conference action, Chris Bosh had an efficient 40 and 18 on 19 shots in a LeBronian effort that ended in a loss to the Magic on Tuesday. He’s putting in a serious bid for the hardest working man in basketball.
Closer to the other ocean, the Dallas Mavericks are finally putting together a bid for the playoffs. Currently the 10th seed in the West, they are on a 3-game win streak to put them at 5 and 7. That means they were once 2 and 7. Horrible. With a player like Dirk Nowitzki—a 7-footer with the touch of a shooting guard—one can’t help but to wonder if they’ve been eating their Wheaties. Home cooking hasn’t been doing them any good either, as they are 0-4 in the house that Cuban built. Capricious prediction: Cubs ownership has seen the struggles in Dallas since losing 4 straight to D-Wade and Shaq in the Finals a few years back and think they’re cursed enough as it is.
The Spurs have an excuse: injury. It is like their big 3 is in a rotation—the beginning of this season is Manu’s turn. They are currently 9th in the West, but count on seeing them in the Playoffs. When Ginobili returns to the line-up, they will have another explosive scorer to run with Parker and a guy who can play passing lanes and finish on the fast break. With him back, you can add about 7 points per night to their offence and take away 5 from their opponents’ average.
Now, a few First Step readers were angry at me last week for incorrect predictions of the Pistons v. Lakers and the Nuggets v. Celtics matchup on November 13. I was wrong, yes, but please: Do not let last week fool you. That night was a fluke—one of those "every dog has its day" or "every team makes a run" type of situations. Let the record show that Boston and Los Angeles are the two premier teams in the NBA—the Lakers, though, not the Clippers. Sorry, Baron Davis.
I received a negative response for my comments about Greg Oden as well. Don’t get mad at me because he’s more handsome than you are. That man has immense potential. Imagine someone telling you that Dwight Howard is great three years ago. Possible Playoff match-ups between Portland and the Lakers or the Rockets will be wonderful to watch. A Bynum vs. Oden series would come to a quick conclusion, but we would see two of the NBA’s future stars go at it. And Oden is one of the handful of players who might be able to get a hand in between Yao’s shot and the rim without jumping. Most people can only wave upward and hope Yao misses.
Games to look for:
Atlanta vs. Cleveland (Saturday,, November 22 at 7:30pm)—This game will be filled with the stuff that makes SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays special. Expect Cleveland to put it together in the end, but it will be a thriller.
Chicago v. Denver (Sunday, November 23 at 9:00pm)—It will be interesting to see the Bulls’ new baby, Derrick Rose, square up against Chauncey Billups. The Bulls are getting some wins together, but the Nuggets will prevail in the end.