Archive for the ‘western conference’ category

Catching Up With the Western Conference and MVP Race

March 10, 2008

On February 14, I wrote about the awesome NBA Western Conference and the oasis it was providing during the slow post-NFL/pre-March Madness period. Now that this slow season is ending, lets take a look at the West again.

On the date of that post, the standings were as follows:

New Orleans (36-15)
Phoenix (36-16)
Dallas (35-17)
Utah (34-19)
LA Lakers (35-17)
San Antonio (34-17)
Golden State (32-20)
Houston (32-20)
Denver (32-20)
Portland (28-24)

Here they are today:

LA Lakers (44-19)
San Antonio (43-19)
Houston (42-20)
Utah (42-22)
New Orleans (42-20)
Phoenix (41-22)
Dallas (40-23)
Golden State (39-23)
Denver (37-25)

Kobe_Bryant_allstar 

As you can see, the only thing that has been determined is that Portland (33-30) is still one year away from making a serious run at the playoffs in the West. While Denver is currently in the 9 slot and capable of making a run for a spot, the Nuggets’ complete disregard for defense will not allow that to happen.

The Lakers are 9-2 since my last post and have gone from the 5 seed to the 1. The Spurs have the same record over the past 11 and have also valuted 4 slots, from 6 to 2. Utah and New Orleans have held relatively steady: the Jazz are 8-3 and the Hornets are 6-5. But thats where the kray-z-ness begins. Dallas has added one of the best point guards in NBA history and gone 5-6, dropping from the 3 seed to the 7. Phoenix took a chance and added one of the best centers of all time, and have gone 5-6, dropping from the 2 seed to the 6.

Tracy_McGrady 

On February 14, the Houston Rockets were 32-20, battling for the 8 seed and having won 8 in a row. Since then, they’ve won 10 games in a row while losing Yao Ming for the season. All righty. Meanwhile, the never-talked-about Golden State Warriors have gone 7-3 and have held on to the 8th seed in the West. After what they pulled last year, and how the Oracle has proven to be one of the toughest places to play in the world, who the hell would want to play the Warriors in round 1?

Lets look at the current playoff picture, even though these matchups will change 100 times by April. Lakers-Warriors: that will be fun; Spurs-Mavs: of course these teams will match up; Rockets-Suns: I know the Rockets are hot, but I don’t see how Phoenix loses this series; Jazz-Hornets: holy shit, I might have an orgasm if I see CP3 against Deron Williams for up to 7 games. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Chris_Paul_NO 

I’m not the only one getting ahead of myself. Suddenly, the Lakers are everyone’s pick to run away with the title. The addition of Pau Gasol has suddenly made L.A. the best team in the league, bar none. Look above–teams are jumping or falling 4 or 5 slots in a span of 3 weeks. The Houston Rockets won eight in a row, lost their best player, and promptly won another 10 in a row. The Mavs and Suns have each added fantastic players and dropped severely in the West. So how can any of these experts be so sure that L.A. is going to win the title? If they lose 4 straight, they’ll be fighting for the 6 seed.

Also, I really don’t understand the apparent understanding the media has among themselves to give Kobe Bryant the MVP award. Kobe may be the best player in the league right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the most valuable. The Lakers were 29-16 when they acquired Gasol; they are 15-3 since. Now I’m not saying that Gasol is better than Kobe, or that he is more valuable. But without Gasol, its entirely possible the Lakers would be fighting for the 8 seed right now. So how can Kobe be the MVP?

Bryant is the clear-cut third choice this year. I firmly believed that our guy in the banner pic was the MVP up until about two weeks ago, and then I started to sway. While I truly love what Paul has done for the Hornets and the point guard position, I have to declare LB23 as the 2008 MVP to this point. I know now points really need to be made to prove that LeBron is a great player, but to prove he is the MVP, look at this:

PPG: 30.9
RPG: 8.0
APG: 7.4
SPG: 2.0
BPG: 1.0
FG %: .487
FT %: .717

LeBron_James

And he has no fucking help. But the media is going to give it to Kobe because he didn’t get it before? I fucking quit.

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A Cure to the February Sports Blues

February 14, 2008

What a horrible stretch we’re in right now. All the networks and talk radio guys want to talk about is fucking Roger Clemens. They’re spending hours and hours talking about the guy and his hearings, and while its obvious to anyone with a working human brain that Clemens is lying, the chances of it being proved–ever–are slim. So why are we wasting so much time on it? Probably because there is nothing else to talk about. At least thats what I thought until I realized something.

The NBA’s Western Conference is off to a historic start.

I knew the West was good. But after analyzing the standings, I realize we might be looking at the best conference playoffs in league history later this year. As of today, the top ten teams in the conference are as follows:

New Orleans (36-15)
Phoenix (36-16)
Dallas (35-17)
Utah (34-19)
LA Lakers (35-17)
San Antonio (34-17)
Golden State (32-20)
Houston (32-20)
Denver (32-20)
Portland (28-24)

Amazing, right? How about the first-round matchups, if the season ended today: New Orleans against Houston; Phoenix against Golden State (maybe the highest scoring 7-game series in league history); Dallas against San Antonio (a matchup of two heated rivals which has been reserved for the conference finals in the past); Utah against the Lakers. Denver and Portland would find themselves out of the playoffs–meanwhile, the Nuggets would be the 3 seed in the East right now, while the Blazers would be the 6.

Chris Paul

But there’s more ridiculousness in these standings. Phoenix is 15-14 against the West, and 21-2 against the East. (Maybe that’s why Steve Kerr made the trade for Shaq; he knew the Suns, as previously constructed, weren’t going to make it out of the West. So he took a shot). A grand total of 4.5 games seperate the top team and the 9 seed. That means if everything keeps playing out as is, its possible that a team could fall from the top seed in the West to a lottery team with one or two bad weeks. Oh, and check this out: of the top nine teams in the West, all have winning records in their last ten games. All of them. Meaning everyone is playing well right now. Finally, I just love this stat–the Denver Nuggets are currently on a 50-32 pace……and won’t make the playoffs. Its possible, although not likely, that a 50-win team would miss the playoffs and then get a lottery pick!!!! This is insane.

Kobe Bryant

Then you have the off the court competition going on. The Lakers trade for Pau Gasol. The Suns grab Shaq. Now, the Mavs are close to trading for Jason Kidd. Meanwhile, the Spurs will get Tony Parker back in the second half and are the defending champs, so they can be counted on to make a run.

There are other great storylines. Can the suprising Hornets, led by MVP candidate Chris Paul, hang on to a playoff spot, let alone the top seed in the conference? At least one of the following teams won’t make the postseason–Golden State, Houston, and Denver. If that team at least comes close to its current pace, wouldn’t it be the best NBA team ever to miss the playoffs?

Then you have the MVP race. Paul is averaging 20.5 ppg, 10.9 apg, 2.6 spg and only 2.7 turnovers. He has a 11 to 2 assist to turnover ratio. What? Then you have King James. LeBron is having a Michael Jordan-ish year, averaging 30.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 7.3 apg, and 2.1 spg to go along with 1.1 blocks. Look at those numbers–thats just silly. But how can you completely count out Kobe Bryant? Kobe has led a surprising Lakers team to within a game of the conference lead. He’s averaging 28 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 5.3 apg, and 1.9 steals while playing first team all defense. Kevin Garnett (19.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg) had transformed the Celtics from a perennial lottery team to the best record in the league before missing an extended amount of time to an abdominal strain. Deron Williams (19.1 ppg, 9.7 apg), Dirk Nowitzki (22.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Yao Ming (22.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg), Dwight Howard (21.7 ppg, 14.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg), and Steve Nash (17.3 ppg, 11.7 apg) are also having unbelievable years, and only Howard has even an outside chance to win the award if voting was held today.

Dwight Howard

So, I guess my long, belated point is…….I know this time of year is brutal for those of us who love football and baseball. From the Super Bowl until March Madness, there isn’t a ton to watch, especially when the Bulls are an abortion. My advice–watch some Western Conference basketball. There hasn’t been a collection of stars and great teams in one conference in league history. The playoffs are going to be something.