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After a one week hiatus in favor of coverage on all the Rudy Gay trade hoopla, Eastern Connections returns with a familiar face…

Virtual daps: Rudy Gay Raps Logo

Here’s somebody that we at 3 Shades are no stranger to writing about. Virtual daps extended to my main man Rudy Gay. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve still got my signed Gay jersey, complements of my girlfriend, framed and hanging above my bed. Rudy’s acclimating well to his new surroundings with the Toronto Raptors, re-united with his buddy, Kyle Lowry. Flight 22 has gone for 20+ in each of his four contests with the Raps, en route to a 2-2 record for the team. Accompanying last night’s number one spot on SportsCenter’s top 10 for Rudy was a game winning patented strong side jumper over Paul George. Redemption for the clock expiring on his attempted buzzer beater against George when he was suited up in Beale St Blue? Somewhere, that infamous Raptor fan (Warning: strong language) is still screaming, “Yes, that guy.”

On the bright side:

29– When Rajon Rondo went down, it seemed for a moment like all was lost for the Boston Celtics. The reality? Quite the contrary. Be it a testament to Doc Rivers’ motivational capabilities, the resilient veteran presence in the locker room, or what have you, the C’s have rallied to a 6-game-and-counting win streak in the wake of the injury to their all-star point guard.

– How about them Washington Wizards… if the results of the re-infusion of John Wall don’t speak to the importance of having a steady, capable ball handler at the helm, I don’t know what does. The Wiz were dead in the water prior to his return, and have gone 9-7 since. 9-7 may not be the most impressive number, but in context, it’s remarkable. Especially when you consider that they’re on a 3 game win streak, comprised of respective victories against the Clippers, Knicks, and Nets, respectively. Makes you wonder about how good the Bulls can be when Rose comes back…

– I don’t like to go the “captain obvious” route often, but in the last “Eastern Connections” before the break, my hand is forced. It would be criminal if I didn’t mention the Miami Heat. As expected, the defending champions have distanced themselves as the clear cut favorite in the Eastern Conference. They’re the only team above .700 on the year, and have won 8 of their last 10. Additionally, Lebron James is having yet another incredible season and is poised to bring home his 4th MVP trophy if he keeps it up. His numbers thus far are around 27 ppg, 8 rpg, and 7 apg, on a runaway career best 56% from the floor. His PER is over 30, which if he keeps it up will place him alongside Jordan as the only player to do so in four seasons. For all the bad vibes that get sent this guy’s way, you’d be doing yourself a favor to take step back and really appreciate how truly special a player he is.

Overcast skies:

– The Orlando Magic are singing a Tom Petty tune these days, as they are absolutely free fallin’. When we last checked in with them, they were running a four game losing streak. Well now that trend-line has been extended to twelve units, and the Magic are looking like a distant shell of the team that was pushing .500 in mid-December, winning just two of their last 25 games.

– The Brooklyn Nets are undergoing a bit of a “correction,” if you will, after their hot start under P.J. Carlesimo. They have gone 3-5 in their last 8, beginning with the walloping that our Grizzlies delivered them back in January, and are still to face San Antonio, Indiana, and Denver, heading into the All-Star break. There are some trade rumors floating above the team, namely a swap with the Bobcats, which could be getting in the heads of some guys.

– Similarly to my mention of the Heat on the brighter side of things, I’ve got to go with the “captain obvious” post in the overcast section, which is sadly the Charlotte Bobcats. I seriously had my hopes up for them, as they started off the year on such a good foot. After amassing a meager 7 wins in 66 games last season, it took them only 12 to reach the same mark this year. At 7-5, things were looking up for Bobcats fans… but that was a different time. They have won four games ever since, and find themselves at the rock bottom of the league, yet again.

Some of the week’s sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:

– Heat Index has a piece up on the comeback journey of one of my personal favorite players, the Birdman.

– Check out Raptors Republic’s assessment of the Rudy Gay’s addition to their team.

– Cavs: the Blog has an excellent column up regarding the haunting effect that Lebron has left over the fan base. They’ve also got some thoughts on former Grizzlies, Wayne Ellington and Mo Speights, floating around their site if you’re interested.

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