NBA Week 5 in Review

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NBA

Oh what a wonderful web we weave! Teams are literally stuck in the middle of the standings and are creating a logjam for playoff seeding. In the East, seeds 2 through 10 are separated by a mere 3 games! We do see some slight diversity out West, however, seeds 4 through 9 are also only separated by 3 games. FUN! As we approach the quarter mark of the season, the trends seem to be pointing in the direction that this tangled web will remain a constant. Every win counts and we should enjoy the competition that ensues.

Western Conference

It looks like we’ll pretty much be discussing the Warriors every week with the way they’re dominating the league. Since we last checked, the Warriors have stretched their 7 game win streak to 12 while maintaining their absurd 117.6 PPG average. We watched them run the same play 4 consecutive times against the Pacers this past week. The result? Klay layup, Curry three, foul on KD, Klay layup. The lethal shooting on this team requires so much attention that when the sideline player cuts backdoor after a strong side pick and roll, layups are inevitable. As with past years, no lead is truly safe. It will take a lot of focus, defensive intensity and offensive efficiency to beat this team. It can be done, but boy it sure is difficult.

OKC looks to steer the ship in the right direction and have pulled out three consecutive victories. Russ is officially averaging a triple double through 19 games after his extraordinary 27/18/14 stat line against the Knicks. This team can definitely ride Russ into the playoffs, but with all the energy he expends on the court, Billy Donovan will have to put on his Popovich hat and strategically rest Russ occasionally in the latter half of the season. When he drives full speed to the basket, he demands attention, leaving teammates wide open on the perimeter or in prime position for an offensive rebound on a missed floater/layup. This does leave Russ open for many turnovers in the lane if his passes aren’t precise. It also means that if his teammates really want a shot at the playoffs, their 3 point percentage needs to increase.

The Spurs have quietly kept pace stretching their win streak to 9, while the Clippers took a slight dip and have dropped their last two matchups. Overall, the west has otherwise remained steady, with the same teams jockeying for position. One of the biggest surprises is the Houston Rockets, sporting an 11-6 record and currently in 4th place out West. James Harden has a legit chance to lead the league in scoring and assists this season, so get ready for Co-MVP talks to ensue if that holds true and Russ completes the triple double feat. I guess at that point you give it to the team that wins 50 games, right? And if they both do, let’s see which team finishes with the better record. Every. Win. Matters.

Eastern Conference

The Cavs remain quietly dominating the East. The schedule has been mostly in their favor as of recent but they will get tough tests this week at the Bucks, home against the Clippers and then on the road to visit the Bulls and Raptors. The formula is working. LeBron runs the show and facilitates, Kyrie scores and closes, Kevin Love spreads the floor and posts up mismatches. Of course we saw all facets of the formula this week. Kevin Love with 34 first quarter points, LeBron’s triple double and Kyrie’s 39 point (19 point 4th quarter outburst) performance. The drive and kick offense they thrive on has allowed Iman Shumpert to shoot a career high 46% from 3 point range, and has let Channing Frye shoot 48.5% from 3. DEADLY!

With the small difference in record between the second and tenth seeds, we should basically be prepared to see the volatile shifts in positioning on a weekly basis. As such, we’ve seen a rise from the Knicks, Pacers and Raptors. We’ve also seen a slight fall from the Hornets and Hawks. The Bulls have kept steady with an underrated defense and the rise of Jimmy Butler. The roster is set up almost perfectly for him to flourish with a complimentary scorer in Wade, and a willing passer in Rondo. Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez remain the scrappy down low players they’ve been their entire careers. Taj also provides a nice mid range jumper for pick and pop plays as well as drive and kicks.

One team trying to subtly get it together is the Washington Wizards. Winners of 4 out of their last 6, we’ve seen more consistent scoring from Bradley Beal and high assist outputs from John Wall. Their game is predicated on the pick and roll with corner threes or mid range jumpers. If you’re a Wizards fan (or a fan of the game at all) you’d like to see more ball movement within the team. The Wizards are a perfect 6-0 when averaging 23.5 APG and a lousy 0-10 when averaging 19.2 APG. It doesn’t look like rocket science on where they need improvement.

Matchups To Watch

-Cavs @ Bucks – 11/29

-Rockets @ Jazz – 11/29

-Lakers @ Bulls – 11/30

-Wizards @ Thunder – 11/30

-Knicks @ T-Wolves – 11/30

-Pacers @ Blazers – 11/30

-Clippers @ Cavs – 12/1

-Rockets @ Warriors – 12/1

-Lakers @ Raptors – 12/2

-T-Wolves @ Knicks – 12/2

-Cavs @ Bulls – 12/2

-Clippers @ Pelicans – 12/2

-Wizards @ Spurs – 12/2

-T-Wolves @ Hornets – 12/3

-Hawks @ Raptors – 12/3

-Pelicans @ Thunder – 12/4

-Pacers @ Clippers – 12/4

Stay tuned next week as we get into some exciting December matchups!

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