Howdy Grizz fans! It’s been a while, but let’s check in with our Eastern Conference amigos…
Virtual daps: Brandon Jennings
While Jennings was busy making headlines this week centered around the gossip regarding an eventually impending stint in free agency, he could have stolen them with his play, which was noteworthy in and of itself. The Milwaukee Bucks‘ point guard has essentially been running the tables on the opposition in his last four contests. His tear began with a 19 assist showing against Rudy Gay and company and was followed up by a 17 assist performance that he coupled with 4 three pointers. In the next two games his assist totals were toned down to a “modest” 12 and 10, while he connected on 5 and 6 long range bombs, respectively. It’s not just about the volume of the stats either, as his assist/turnover ratio has been a spectacular 4.83 throughout the span. If he plays like this for the next year and a half, he just might have a case for himself when he hits the market!
March-ing along: (I should have my blogging license revoked for that one)
– “Eastern Connections” hot-column resident, the Miami Heat, still have not lost a game since their February 1st showdown against the Indiana Pacers: a defeat which they have avenged in last night’s 105-91 victorious rematch. They’re the first and only team in the league thus far to have mathematically clinched a playoff birth, and just don’t seem to be slowing any time soon.
– Next, I want to take a moment to stop and do something that some 80% of the basketball world is doing at this point, and that is appreciate the job that Doc Rivers is doing for the Boston Celtics. It was not too long ago that Rajon Rondo blew out his knee and we were sitting here speculating on the demise of the Celtics as we know them with potential deadline deals such as the one rumored to ship anchor, Kevin Garnett out to Los Angeles. Instead, the conversation is about the C’s claiming 5 of their last 6, with the lone defeat coming at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not too shabby!
– Lastly, I want to designate the last slot of the “good” section to two teams who haven’t exactly done enough to warrant it in their own right, but are playing great ball by the standards of expectation that they have set. The first of which is the Washington Wizards. The Wiz have split their last 10 down the middle, going 5-5 behind the steadily improving play of rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal. Beal has missed the last 3 games with an ankle injury, but has been in double figures for all of his last 9 games leading up to them, and breaking the 20 point plateau in 5. The team behind door number two is the Cleveland Cavaliers. They too have taken 5 of their last 10, behind the steady but sporadic play of the dinged up Kyrie Irving.
– Well this is certainly not the type of season that Philadelphia 76ers fans had envisioned. Coming off of a promising finish to last season, much akin to the Grizzlies’ memorable playoff run of 2011, morale was pretty high. Add to that an offseason acquisition of one of the few with a legitimate case as the best big men in all of basketball, and morale was really high. Now, the Sixers have found themselves deep in the running with a very different “select” half of the league: the “ping pong ball” bunch. On the bright side, they will likely get to keep their first round pick, which was top-12 protected in a trade to Miami. They’ve lost their last five games, contributing to a total of 9 out of their last 10. Wake Philly fans up when the season ends.
– I don’t want to be mean, but I can’t leave this section devoid of mention of the Charlotte Bobcats. However, I’m going to keep entry succinct and make quick note their 10 game losing streak. To harken back to my go-to movie, “Drive,” “Don’t worry. That’s it. It’s done. There’s no pain.”
– The Chicago Bulls have been slipping a bit in their season-long race with the Pacers for the Central Division. Since the calendar flipped to February, they have played 17 games and have only managed to win 7 of them. This isn’t terrible for treading water while waiting for Derrick Rose to return or not return, but it is also not conducive to fighting for playoff seeding. March has been equally as forgettable so far as they’ve dropped 3 of 5 to start, but when those 3 come at the hands of Indiana, San Antonio, and the suddenly awakened L.A. Lakers, it seems to make sense.
Some of the week’s sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:
– From the “Working Bodies” section of TrueHoop’s home site, Henry Abbott dives into the implications of a potential agreement on HGH testing in the NBA.
– So at the beginning of this post I gave a shout out to Brandon Jennings for his wonderful week. Here’s Jeremy Schmidt’s take on Jennings and his play over at “Bucksketball.”
– While I was nice to the Wizards earlier, Conor Dirks of Wizards blog, “Truth About It,” held no punches in his extensive and elucidating piece on their botched player development(s).