Let’s see what the story of the East has in store for us this week.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland –
The artist formerly known as Kyrie Irving, aka Batman, returned from his broken finger in a big way, scoring 28 in a win over the Lakers on Tuesday. On Friday, Irving suffered a small fracture in his jaw en route to his 26 point performance against Milwaukee. Illustrative of the warrior he is, he got himself fitted for a nice batman-esque protective mask, picked himself up, and dropped 41 on the Knicks. As an aside, what’s going on with the Cavaliers and face injuries? Tyler Zeller straight up got his face wrecked by a Deandre Jordan elbow early in November, and Tristan Thompson has been wearing a mask all year with a nasal fracture.
Pickin’ up steam:
– The Indiana Pacers have won three straight. They haven’t exactly been up against world class competition, but hey… this is the top heavy eastern conference. They’ve been having an up and down season thus far with the absence of team captain, Danny Granger, and this will likely continue, but it’s always good to string a few wins together, and they’ve taken 10 of their last 13 contests overall. Also, big things for the self-titled G2 unit. Guard, George Hill put up his first career triple double against Philly this week, and Paul George, featured in last week’s “Eastern Connections” is still playing out of his head.
– The Grizzlies’ play host to a hot opponent tomorrow night, in the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are still doing their thing, having beaten a couple good teams this week, in Philadelphia and against the Brooklyn Nets. They also beat the Knicks last week. Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng have all stepped up and answered the call lately, an it’s shown as the team has gone 7-3 in its last 10.
– The Magic might not be doing all that great, but I think 10-13 is far better comparatively than the placement of the bar of expectation in Orlando after the Dwight Howard firesale. Second year big man, Nikola Vucevic is looking like a very solid addition with his numbers creeping up to a near double double average statline on the season, while fellow yield of the blockbuster, Arron Afflalo has proven to be everything that they thought he would thus far, in terms of his consistent scoring and effort.
Wishin’ this week was a bad dream:
– I really don’t want to be repetitive in consecutive weeks, but the poor Bobcats are still stuck at that fateful number seven wins. While it’s not the 23 game skid that they finished last season on, being proud owners of an 11 game losing streak is well, nothing to be proud of.
– Jrue Holiday is another difference maker down for the time being for the 76ers, with a sprained foot. With Andrew Bynum sidelined for who knows how long, the Sixers can’t afford to be down too many bodies if they want to make any waves this year.
– The Brooklyn Nets started off scorching, but have come crashing back down to earth, having lost 6 of their last 10 contests. Brook Lopez’s injury has been the main culprit, as moving Andray Blatche into the starting lineup did some serious damage to their depth. Lopez returned this weekend, so we’ll see if that will be enough to get them back on track. However, if you’re relying on that guy to be healthy in order to be a competitive team, there may be some big problems… seven foot problems, that lie ahead.
A few sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:
– In their #ORLrank series, Magic Basketball ranks Memphian, Penny Hardaway as the fourth best player in franchise history. Who do y’all have for the Grizz tops?
– The Brooklyn Game tells us that the Nets are having some issues with dynamic off-guard, MarShon Brooks’, defense, and it is costing him minutes.
– Heat Index offers up a blow-by-blow recap of the difference-making play in Miami’s loss to Golden State, in the words of the players.