Besides the Grizzlies overtime trip to Chi-town last night, what’s going on out in the Eastern Conference?
Virtual daps: Jrue Holiday
With the reserves for the all-star game due to be announced this week, Jrue Holiday is sure to find his name deep into the conversation. Be it as a well-deserving first time recipient of the honor, or an unfortunate snub, he will surely be a player of interest. Holiday has put together a fantastic body of work this season as a walking double-double from the guard spot, but since this is a weekly discussion, let’s look at what he did this past week. He went crazy on the opposition in his last three games, averaging an eye-popping rate of over 30 points, 10 assists, and 3.5 steals, leading his Philadelphia 76ers to a 2-1 record in the span. To top that all off, he shot over 50% from the field in each of the three and went 18-20 from the charity stripe. Keep ballin’ like it’s the holidays, Jrue (ah, I’m terrible).
– The Brooklyn Nets are still on the upswing, or at least still riding the same wave upward, as they’ve really gotten on track and into a groove under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo. They suffered their first defeat of 2013 in Atlanta on Wednesday, but avenged themselves by beating that same Hawks team on their home later in the week, have totaled out at 3-1 since we last checked in, and 9-1 on the new year. For more on their turnaround, check out this piece from the TrueHoop home site.
– Prior to last night’s overtime loss to our Beale Street Bears, the Chicago Bulls were rolling along. They started the week by steamrolling the Hawks in a complete blowout, holding them to an abysmally low 58 points on 29.3% shooting. There were no typos in the numerical portion of that last sentence. They then followed with overtime victories against the Raptors and Celtics, respectively. Okay, well I guess a rout of the Hawks and two hard-fought overtime battles don’t exactly characterize “rolling,” but they had managed their way through an impressive week, nonetheless.
– The Milwaukee Bucks showed some signs of life this week, taking three of four this week in their favor. The lone loss of their week came against the Lake Show, which is understandable to some degree. While the Lakers haven’t been the force that they were expected to be this season, they still possess a decided advantage over the Bucks in the talent department. The Bucks victories came against a moderate level of competition, and have been supported by the strong level of play of the breakout Larry Sanders, who has blocked multiple shots in every game since the flip of the calendar.
– Did I mention the Atlanta Hawks only scored 58 points against the Bulls on Monday night? That’s right, 58 points, and they went 1-3 over the course of the week. I swear it’s coincidental that I’m seemingly taking shots at them all throughout this post, but I really don’t want to rub salt in the wounds, because the injury bug has already done so. The recent announcement that Lou Williams’s torn ACL will sideline him for the rest of the season comes as a crushing blow for a team that started off the year so strongly. To make matters worse, Josh Smith’s status as a perpetual resident of the trade carousel seems to swirl faster and faster with each loss that piles up. If you’re looking for a bright spot though, Zaza Pachulia was the man in their win over Brooklyn, as he flirted with triple-double status on a 13-11-8 night.
– The Toronto Raptors have got to be one of the streakiest teams in the league. They took a 4-19 record into mid-December, then followed it with an 8-1 surge through the beginning of January. What’s next? You guessed it: a downtrend characterized by a 2-6 stretch, having been losers of 4 straight. The term “roller-coaster” gets thrown around quite a bit in pro sports, but I think it applies quite organically here. Sure a rash of injuries have done some damage to the flow of what they’re trying to accomplish there, but it has definitely been odd to watch the trajectory of their team so far.
– The Detroit Pistons had one game in a total of eight days, and lost it to the Knicks, so if we’re going by sheer win percentage, they’re at the bottom… although they did get a trip to London out of it. I am intrigued to see the type of effect that all of the rest that they have had to compensate for the jet lag provides. Who knows, travel is pretty killer, but with the majority of the league feeling the rigors of the 82 game schedule, a few days off might be enough to freshen them up and get their legs under ’em. They play Boston tonight in their first game back. The same logic applies to the Knicks, who don’t get back to action until Monday afternoon’s game: their final of the regular season against cross-town rival Brooklyn.
Some of the week’s sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:
– If you missed the link to it above, here’s a piece from the TrueHoop home site, on the revamped efficiency of the P.J. Carlesimo Nets.
– The writers over at Bucksketball had a ton of fun with nicknames in their piece titled, The Milwaukee Bucks’ Sinister Six (and Friends). I have to admit, “Dr. Blocktopus” had me rolling.