Early in the season, the power in the NBA was very Eastern Conference-slanted. Things have shifted to the Western Conference as the season draws to a close. This week in the NBA will add some clarity to the playoff picture.
1- Chicago Bulls (46-14) Remember when the Bulls were bad? Can’t blame you if you don’t. It was very short lived.
2- Oklahoma City Thunder (44-16) Aside from having their starting frontcourt co-starring in some new Blake Griffin dunk posters, the Thunder is in a great position for a deep playoff run.
3- San Antonio Spurs (42-16) Of the two games the Spurs lost this week, they only played their star guys in one. They have learned from missteps in years past and are all about the playoffs.
4- Miami Heat (42-17) The losses to the Celtics and Bulls don’t bother me. They are not an omen for future failure. Same thing happened last season and the Heat fared just fine once the playoffs rolled around. I have said it before and will say it again: the Heat just looks bored with the regular season. They know they are judged on what happens in May and June.
5- Los Angeles Lakers (39-22) No Kobe Bryant + more touches for Andrew Bynum = four-game winning streak. If anyone had that equation correct, then I demand that you show your work.
6- Los Angeles Clippers (37-23) It is hard to quantify what another victory over the Thunder will do to Lob City’s swagger as the playoffs near. If these two teams meet up in the playoffs we will get to see what lasting effect those wins had.
7- Indiana Pacers (38-22) The forgotten team in the East is closing out an impressive and surprising season of success in a great way. Or as I like to call it, the exact opposite of the 76ers. Right now the Pacers are slotted to play said Sixers in the playoffs. As I shake my Magic 8 ball and ask if the Pacers are going to win a playoff series it says: outcome looks promising.
8- Memphis Grizzlies (35-25) This team was a tough out in the playoffs last season without Rudy Gay. I don’t see teams lining up to play them once May rolls around.
10- Denver Nuggets (33-27) The Nuggets will provide an entertaining playoff series no matter whom they play. When I asked my Magic 8 Ball about their chances of winning a playoffs series it said outcome seems unlikely.
Player of the Week:
Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers -- I am not the biggest fan of Bynum’s antics on the court. He often plays selfishly and immaturely and has cost his team in crucial moments of games. See the Rockets game two weeks ago - with Rick Grimes on the sideline, Shane Walsh stepped up in a big way. If you haven’t read The Walking Dead books or watched season two of the TV series do not click on the link. That is my spoiler alert.
Best Game of the Week:
Spurs at Lakers (Tuesday 9:30pm CST on TNT)
Lakers at Spurs (Friday 8:30pm CST on ESPN)
Kobe should be back for both games and I would bet a six-pack that Coach Popovich plays his starters in both games.
Worst Game of the Week:
Cavilers at Pistons (Tuesday 6:30pm CST):
Man, this game would have been an awesome late season game back in 2007.