It looks like the NCAA won't be the only league with some March Madness this month. This weekend marks the beginning of the second half of the NBA season and based on what we've seen in the first half, madness is nothing short of what I'm expecting. Tell me if you think I'm wrong, but it seems to me like the shortened NBA season has released a much stronger work ethic from players/teams/coaches than we're used to seeing. Maybe everyone is feeling more pressure to perform because there are less games on the schedule before playoffs. Whatever it is, I like what I'm seeing.
Last night the Miami Heat quieted their critics once again. Dwayne Wade had a triple double and Lebron played out of his mind. The Heat actually got outscored 24-20 in the 4th quarter and STILL won by 14. They are a hungry team. No team has been able to keep up with them in transition all year. They make plays from one end of the court to the next and they're starting to look not only like the most explosive offensive team in the league, but the hardest working team defensively as well. At one point in the second half, Lebron James hustled back from outer space to block Raymond Felton's layup in transition. It might have been the best block I've seen all year. (Serge Ibaka, who has been a one-man block party all year, would probably disagree). But by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, it looked like the boys from South Beach were just getting warmed up. I swear Lebron and DWade could have played four more quarters with ease. It's one thing to be more athletic. It's a whole other thing to be more conditioned on top of that. Frankly, if you're an opposing team, it's downright scary. I can't wait to see how the Masked Mamba and company respond when the Heat roll into Staples Center to take on the Lakeshow this Sunday.
So what else is on the docket this weekend?
Tonight's ESPN doubleheader features Golden State at Philadelphia 8PM EST followed by the Clippers at Phoenix at 10:30. I'm sure if Wilt Chamberlain hadn't scored that modest 100 points 50 years ago today, we'd be watching Derrick Rose's Chicago Bulls go up against Kyrie Irving and the Cavs instead. (Two of the hottest point guards in the league mind you). Regardless, it's good to pay tribute to a legend who may have set a record that will never be broken. Only time will tell. The one thing I can tell you is that no player on the 76ers will be scoring 100 points tonight.
Saturday's games are fairly uneventful but with playoff implications on the line, the T-wolves at the Trail Blazers should provide some entertainment. Kevin Durant and company will also pay a visit to those Hawks in Atlanta.
Sunday is where it's at this weekend. Here's the lineup:
Knicks at Celtics at 1:00 P.M. EST - Both teams are .500 and tied for the last two spots in the Eastern conference playoff bracket. All amidst talk of trading their star player, Rajon Rondo.
Heat at Lakers at 3:30 PM EST - This is definitely the game I'm looking forward to this weekend. After Dwayne Wade's hard foul resulted in a broken nose for Kobe, you can bet the mamba will come out balling serious. Not to mention, everyone is anticipating a little retribution on Kobe's behalf. Could Ron-Ron come to the rescue for a vintage, hard foul of his own?
Chicago at Philadelphia at 7:00 P.M. EST - Look for Chicago to come out gunning for the potential one-seed in the East while the 76ers look to make a statement at home.
Denver at San Antonio at 9:30 P.M. EST - Don't sleep on San Antonio, having won the last 80% of their games. It's going to be all on Denver, who needs every win they can get if they want to protect one of the last spots in the Western Conference playoff picture.
Oh, and for those of you that haven't read Bill Simmons' "The Malice at the Palace: An oral history of the scariest moment in NBA history," do yourself a favor and check it out. That guy Bill Simmons knows a thing or two about the game of basketball; he's definitely one of my idols. Here's the link to the article below:
Anything I missed? Get at me! Leave any/all comments below and have a great weekend hoopsvibers!