While the Grizz are gearing up for a showdown with the Kings, let’s take a brief moment to look out East
Virtual daps: Jeff Green
Yes, I’m entirely aware of the week that Carmelo Anthony is having, but as I have said in the past, this section, unless my hand is really forced, is one for the unsung heroes. So this week, I present you Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green! Green has been a one man wrecking crew for the C’s, as they navigate their way into this year’s playoffs without star point guard Rajon Rondo. The fifth year forward out of Georgetown is finally getting the chance to prove his worth after the much-critiqued deal in which he was traded for Kendrick Perkins, and missing last season due to a heart condition. Without looking back, Green is balling. The versatility of his game alone warrants mention as he’s getting it done on both sides of the floor. He mounted this run on March 18th, when he went toe-to-toe with Lebron James, to the tune of 43 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. In his last five contests, Green is proving to be a five-tool player, to borrow some baseball terminology, averaging 24 points, 1.8 threes, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block. More impressively, he’s done so shooting at a clip of greater than 50% from the field in all of them.
– Who’s streaking now, you ask? I need not look any farther than the Big Apple to find the latest team to catch the bug. After struggling some with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire missing time, two thirds of the New York Knicks‘ triumvirate have returned and the team has rolled to eleven straight wins. Most notable has been Melo’s extraterrestrial scoring numbers as he amassed 131 points in the last three games. So are they for real? Only time will tell, but this afternoon’s showcase against the Oklahoma City Thunder shed us some light.
– The Indiana Pacers had been middling for a bit, but are getting back on track at just the right time, with the playoffs getting underway shortly. They may have lost their last two games, but they went 8-1 in the nine games prior. After on and off waiting for Danny Granger to return to the lineup, his Thursday knee surgery sealed the fact that he will not be back this season. Going forward without him will be tough, but the team is approaching 50 wins in a year in which he suited up for a mere five games. Paul George has stepped up big time in his absence, and as long as the Pacers continue to play their trademarked physical, stingy defense, they pose the Miami Heat as good a threat as any in the East.
– The Chicago Bulls deserve some mention solely for being the team to derail the Heat’s record-challenging win streak. Including the victory over the Heat, the Bulls have come out victorious in six of their last eight contests. Of the six, one that stands out is a playoff-atmosphere showdown with potential first round draw, the Brooklyn Nets. In the win, the Bulls were down Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and basically every shooting guard on the roster, as Carlos Boozer played 45 minutes and led the way with 29 points and 18 rebounds. Derrick Rose is “close” to returning, whatever that means, but regardless, this team is well coached and will not back down from anybody.
– Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, the outstanding play of our “Virtual Daps” recipient for the week, Jeff Green, has not translated into team wins. The Celtics were already short-handed without Rondo, but have been crippled even more so down the final stretch, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both banged up and missing time. They’ve won only three of their last eleven games, but I don’t feel comfortable writing them off just yet, with the playoffs looming.
– The Milwaukee Bucks have clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, woohoo! That’s kind of like being the fastest turtle in a race. Okay, well not quite that bad, but it’s hard to say that they did anything other than limp across the finish line. They have won just five of their last fifteen, and will have the pleasure of facing the Heat in the first round. Unless of course they pick things up and Boston continues to fall.
– There are a lot of teams playing bad basketball in the East, but to choose another, I guess I would have to go with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They just snapped a ten game losing streak on Friday night at none other than Boston, but still warrant notice for their follies. To be fair, they played eight of those ten games with Kyrie Irving out of the lineup, but ten losses is ten losses.
Some of the week’s sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:
– Didn’t read enough about Jeff Green on my accord? Here’s what Brian Robb had to say about his presence in the starting lineup. (Celtics Hub)
– Jeremy Gordon notes that after some turbulent time together in the circus that became the Washington Wizards, Javale Mcgee and Andray Blatche are making strides in the right direction. (Brooklyn’s Finest)
– Henry Abbott looks at superstar calls and why they benefit, well nobody. (TrueHoop)