With March Madness rolling and spring training developing, it feels that the NBA season is over. These are the dog days. The finish line is in view, teams are “resting” players to tank and the top teams are just making sure no one gets hurt. Playoffs are coming.
1) Golden State Warriors 56-13 – Even with Klay Thompson going down with a sprained ankle, this team continues to roll. Last week in a rematch, the Dubs blew out the Eastern leading Atlanta Hawks by 19 points. This team is well on the way to 65+ wins and home-court advantage through the Finals. Expect to see them come June. What a juggernaut.
2) San Antonio Spurs 44–25 – The Machine just keeps rolling, year in, year out. It just took longer than usual to get gas in the tank. Kawhi Leonard is back, folks. Over his last 10 games, he’s averaging 19.8 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game and 3.0 steals while shooting over 54 percent. Not so coincidentally, the Spurs are 8-2 in that stretch. Leonard, who battled injuries through the season, is the driving force behind the Spurs’ charge towards the top of the conference.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers 46–26 – 27-7. That is their record since LeBron James came back. Yet, this team still isn’t firing on all cylinders. The Kevin Love situation is an issue. Just one season removed from averaging 26 points per game and 12 rebounds per game and being named second team All-NBA, Love is floundering as a third option. His numbers are down to 16.5 points per game and 10.1 rebounds per game. Coach David Blatt has him installed as a spot up shooter, limiting his impact. Last season, Love was an effective and efficient post up threat and willing passer. Now, he just looks lost.
4) Memphis Grizzlies 49–21 – Monster week coming up with games against the Cavs, Warriors and Spurs. This month, the Grizz have been run ragged. They’ve had just 10 days off, playing five back-to-back games, including one stretch where they played four games in five nights. Getting rest for Mike Conley, who’s been nursing an ankle injury, is imperative for their playoff run.
5) Atlanta Hawks 53–17 – It was not a good week for the Hawks. They dropped games to the Warriors, Thunder and Spurs by a combined 46 points. The Spurs game was especially frightening. Coach Mike Budenholzer is a product of Gregg Popovich and the teacher completely outwitted the student. The Spurs ran their sets at a cleaner and faster rate than the Hawks could manage. As the season has dragged, the Hawks have become stale and predictable. Come playoff time when they face the same team up to seven times in two weeks, with all the scouting efforts honed in, this team will go down.