Saturday , Apr , 07 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up for April 06

Breaking down the 3 biggest stories for April 06, 2007. Click here to find out about Wade’s return to Miami’s lineup, Toronto’s first Division Title, Yao and McGrady’s injury, and much, much more.

Top 3 Stories

1) Wade most likely to return next week as 6th man
2) Toronto wins the Atlantic Division

3) Yao and McGrady inactive against the Blazers for Friday’s game

1) Wade most likely to return next week as 6th man

Flash will soon be back. After much speculation, we finally know superstar Dwayne Wade will return to the Heat lineup next week.

His return is not a surprise. Wade, who’s been out with a shoulder injury since February 21st, has been practicing with the team.

What’s surprising is that Wade will likely return as the team’s 6th man. Nothing is definite, but that seems to be the plan.

Reaction of Dwayne Wade on his return and the possibility of being the 6th man:
"Me and [Riley] have an understanding my first game or so with how many minutes I’ll play. It won’t matter if I come off the bench or not. I just want to get into a flow a little bit so I can hit my stride when we get into the playoffs," he said.”

Reaction of Pat Riley on how Wade will be used:
"He could start. He could come off the bench. We’ll just see how he feels."

Reaction of The Score Sports Network:
“Out since late February with a shoulder injury, Dwayne Wade is now very close to making his much-anticipated return to the Miami lineup. He should be back sometime this coming week, giving him a couple of weeks to regain his conditioning before the playoffs get underway. Look for coach Pat Riley to bring his young superstar back slowly. Wade may even be relegated to a sixth-man role for his first few games back.”

Reaction od Rich Bucher, a senior NBA analyst for ESPN, on when Wade will specifically return:
“I would expect at this point hearing how he felt after that first practice that he’s probably targeting that April 11th game against Washingotn. That would give him 3 or 4 games to get back into a rhythm. And certainly since they are playing the Wizards for that Division title, it wouldn’t hurt to have him back on the floor for that game.”

My take:
"This is a smart and prudent move by the Heat. They needed to get Wade some game action, so he could adjust to playing with teammates. However, they did not want to risk an injury. This balances both issues in terms of getting Wade acclimatized to his team and protecting his health.”

2) Toronto wins the Atlantic Division

The Atlantic Division Title is heading north of the border to Toronto, Canada. Last night, Chris Bosh scored 24 points and pulled in 13 rebounds to help the Toronto Raptors defeat the Philadelphia 76ers by a score of 94-85. The win clinched the Toronto franchise’s first ever Division Title.

 After starting the season slowly with a 2-8 record, the Raptors have put together an impressive season. Toronto will now focus on trying to secure the third seed for the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.

Reaction of Toronto Coach Sam Mitchell:
“It’s a start. You come to all of these arenas and they have division championship banners up in the rafters. If you are trying to start a culture of winning, these guys need to start seeing the fruits of their labour and those things are important."

Reaction of Chris Bosh:
“I think it means a lot, especially with the quick turnaround that we’ve had this year. It’s a great thing. This team overcame a lot of adversity early. Now we have to look ahead to clinching that third spot."

Reaction of T.J. Ford:
 “Nobody believed we’d be able to win our division. Now we’re setting standards of how Toronto basketball will be like.”

My take:
“Since mid-December, the Raptors have been playing very well. Toronto’s success is not surprising because this team possesses chemistry, character, and a great work ethic. Even with a lot of injuries, this club is quite deep, getting contributions from a lot of players.”

“The whole thing starts with Bosh. The big man sets the tone through his unselfish attitude. He’s the rare superstar who listens to teammates and coaches. I think he deserves consideration for MVP.”

“Coach Mitchell has changed his approach. He’s more relaxed, making it easier for him to hold players accountable just by being firm. Of course, Mitchell’s success is well timed. He’s without a contract for next season.”

“GM Bryan Colangelo has been brilliant. He’s made a ton of great moves. Most importantly, he gives the entire franchise some much needed credibility.”

3) Yao and McGrady inactive against the Blazers for Friday’s game

The Houston Rockets did not have Yao Ming or Tracy McGrady for last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Both players missed the game due to back troubles. There’s no word on when they could return to the lineup.

However, neither Yao or McGrady expect to be out for a long time. Here’s some reaction to this story:

Reaction of Yao Ming on his injury:
"I went to the training room and talked to (trainer) Keith (Jones). From what Keith told me, I just need take a couple of days and it’ll be fine. It’s just my muscle hurts from getting a hard hit."

Reaction of Houston staff writer Damien Pierce on Tracy McGrady’s injury:
“My advice: Don’t panic. McGrady certainly isn’t. The seven-time All-Star listed himself as questionable for Friday’s game against Portland, but he added that he isn’t worried about his latest back episode because he’s dealing with stiffness, not spasms."

"McGrady said that he would have tried to play through the pain if the Rockets were already in the middle of the playoffs, but erred on the side of caution on Wednesday since he couldn’t get loose and the Rockets are ready in the playoffs. That’s encouraging."

"McGrady, of course, has already dealt with some stiffness this season. Back on Jan. 17, the Rockets star skipped the team’s game against Phoenix because he stiffened up. How did he recover from that? He returned to play 33 games and carried the Rockets offense without Yao Ming. If that episode is like the one that he experienced on Wednesday, McGrady should be fine for the playoffs.”

My take:
“Neither injury seems serious. That’s the good news for the Rockets. However, both Yao and T-Mac are injury prone guys, who just can’t seem to stay healthy for a full season. A back injury is something that never totally heals. So McGrady will never be fully healthy and this will be an on-going issue the Rockets will have to manage. His back seems to flare up at really inopportune times.."

” Thinking big picture, this is unfortunate for the Houston franchise. They’ve put together an impressive season. They are a class franchise. But they’ve built their teams and salary structure around two guys who miss games.”

Worth nothing:

– ESPN’s Greg Anthony breaks down the Spurs’ recent win over the Suns.

Denver kills Dallas’ goal of a 70 wins.

Josh Smith continues his fine play, dropping 28 points and pulling in 18 rebounds to help the Hawks beat the Bucks.

Kobe Bryant hits for 46 points as the Lakers beat the Sonics.

– The New York Post reports that the Knicks will try to acquire Kevin Garnett in the off-season.

– NBA.com has introduced the Dance Team/Cheerleader bracket. I strongly suggest clicking this link.

– The Kentucky Wildcats have found their coach, hiring Billy Gillispie away from Texas A&M.

– More random shots of NBA cheerleaders. Again, I strongly suggest clicking this link.

Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-Up, featuring Oly Sandor. Got an opinion or question? Use the comment box or email Oly at olysandor@hoopsvibe.com.