The NBA has been running on full blast since the compacted 66-game season started Christmas Day. I haven't been keeping up with this blog as well as I'd hoped; I'll try to improve on that folks.
Currently, the Chicago Bulls top the Eastern Conference, followed by Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. Orlando hasn't looked as like a top level team all that often this season, though, and trade rumors continue to swirl around Dwight Howard. Last night, D12 shot more free throws in a game than any player ever shooting 39 free throws. The Bulls and Heat have both dealt with injuries already, as Derrick Rose, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade have all missed games due to injury. The Bulls and Heat are both on ESPN tonight. The Bulls are in Boston tonight (live on ESPN) to take on the aging Celtics who haven't been able to do much this year, and the Heat are in Denver coming off of 2 losses in a row to take on my Nuggets.
The 4th and 5th teams in the East have both had the best starts to a season than they've had in years. The Philadelphia 76ers and the Indiana Pacers have both been making progress to be better teams. They each made some noise in the playoffs last year as harder outs than expected in the first round. We'll see what they're really made of as teams start preparing for them more and more. The Pacers are in Toronto tonight and the Sixers are at home against the Wizards.
Rounding out the top 8 in the East are Atlanta, New York and Cleveland. Atlanta just can't seem to get over the hump to becoming a top team. New York was expected to be one of the top teams this year after adding Tyson Chandler and his ring to the front line with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, they haven't lived up to the hype though and are barely over .500.
Sitting atop the West are the Oklahoma City Thunder, as expected. Kevin Durant is leading his team and he looks hungry. Everyone seems to have something to say about Russell Westbrook, and I honestly think the Thunder could benefit by trading him, but we'll see what happens there. The Thunder also have their backup point guard Eric Maynor out for the season with a torn ACL. They look to be holding up okay, but we'll see what time does without his presence off the bench. OKC hosts the Knicks tomorrow night.
The Portland Trailblazers have surprised a lot of people this year and are currently in the 2 spot in the West. They've beaten some good teams, and I am still a little confused as to how they lost to the Phoenix Suns who haven't looked all that great this year. The Trailblazers are in San Antonio tonight for what should be a tight game.
The 3, 4, and 5 spots are tight between the 8-4 Lakers and the Spurs and Nuggets who are both sitting at 7-4. Kobe has been being Kobe and keeping the Lakers alive. If it weren't for he and Andrew Bynum who has been tearing it up since returning from his suspension at the beginning of the season, the Lakers would be terrible. They host the Cavs tonight.
The Nuggets have blown teams out and lost some close games they should have won. They're seeing some injuries, Nene is dealing with a bruised heal, Ty Lawson missed the last game with a sprained foot, Danilo Gallinari sprained his ankle in the last game and Rudy Fernandez is dealing with a strained Achilles tendon. They are all probable for tonight's game against the Heat except Lawson, who is a game time decision. Hopefully they can pull it together for a game that's sure to be fast paced with two teams who like to run. GO NUGGETS!
The Spurs are the Spurs and are going to be a good team no matter what you expect from them. Even with Manu Ginobli out they've been good. They get the "too old" comments, like the Celtics, but they have good young talent surrounding their old guys with players like Gary Neal and Dejuan Blair. As I mentioned earlier, they host the Trailblazers tonight.
Next up, in the 6 slot in the West lies the Clippers. After getting Chris Paul after the canceled Lakers trade, expectations jumped, they still aren't very deep, and they were set to be a better team this year even before acquiring CP3, they're a good team, just not a championship contender yet.
Rounding out the West's top 8 are Utah and Dallas. I honestly haven't watched or heard much about Utah this year, and I'm fine with that. The Mavericks, on the other hand, were expected to be better after their championship season last year. I told my friends they weren't going to be that team anymore, though. That's what happens when you let your heart and strength walk, even if you pick up Lamar Odom. Look for them to make moves to try to improve the team, though. And look for them to be players in free agency this summer.
That was a little long, but I haven't written for awhile. I hope it wasn't unbearable. I'll try to write more often, I swear.
Stay Fresh and Keep Calm,