If the NBA playoffs started today, a team from LA filled with two perennial all-stars, a hot bench and a coach who has his players rallying around him would be the two seed. Another team from California would be the upstart 5 seed led by a young point guard and a veteran big man who is sick of losing. Neither of these teams are the Los Angeles Lakers. The Clippers and Warriors continued their winning ways this week, and don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. While the Lakers finally got a winning streak going, they have already built themselves a pretty big hole to fill now that Pao Gasol is back, and “the savior to all our problems” Steve Nash looking to be back by Christmas. The Kings and Suns, well, they were the Kings and Suns.
Here is your weekly Pacific Roundup:
Los Angeles Clippers(18-6, 10-0 in last 10, Current Streak: 10 Wins)
-The Clippers are currently 4th in offensive efficiency, 2nd in efficiency differential, give up the 4th least points in the NBA per game and force the most turnovers per game. After a small early season slump, LAC has put together a system that is working, and it’s all due to the bench. the Clippers bench is currently 2nd in the league in scoring(The Wizards bench is first by the way…how does that make sense?), 5th in rebounds, 7th in assists, 1st in steals and 2nd in blocks. It shouldn’t come to any surprise to you that they are the most efficient bench in the league then per 100 possessions. What is even scarier? This bench could get better. Lamar Odom has dropped 12 pounds since the beginning of the season, and is starting to show flashes of what earned him 6th man on the other LA team. Also, once Grant Hill comes back, expect to see a second line of Bledsoe, Crawford, Hill, Odom, and Barnes while starters Jordan, Griffin,Butler, Billups and Paul get their rest. Willie Green is the 11th best man on this team arguably, and he could be contributing for half the teams in this league! Their is no deeper team in the NBA, and they are finding a way to make all the chess pieces mesh.
Golden State Warriors(16-8, 8-2 in last 10, Current Streak:1 Win)
-If I wrote this column over the weekend, we would have been talking out Golden State’s five straight road wins that included wins at Brooklyn and Miami. After dropping a game in Orlando however, the teams bandwagon become much smaller until they proved they are worthy of the hype. A wire to wire 22 point victory over the Hawks in Atlanta proved that this team has some swagger that no one was expecting. No Bogut? No problem. David Lee is making his case to be an all-star for the second time in his career with stats of 23pts, 12rebs and 3 dimes while shooting 60% in his last three games. He has been the catalyst behind this team improving their defense as well, barking out orders and playing help defense in a very KG like way. While it’s early, is their anyone who would want to play a game 5 or 6 in Golden State with the way that crowd has rallied around it’s team?
Los Angeles Lakers(11-14, 4-6 in last 10, Current Streak:2 Wins)
-The time for excuses is over. While I mentioned in the podcast this week this is not Kobe’s fault, it quickly can become one if he doesn’t integrate Pao into the offense right away. Now that the Spaniard is back in the lineup, they need to get his confidence back by getting him the ball in favorable spots, even if it means moving Dwight into places he’s not used too. While the hack a Dwight has calmed a bit, it has to be concerning for a Laker’s fan that teams in the West are watching this work, and knowing it can work come playoff time as well. That is, if the Lakers get there. The real judgement time will come on Christmas Day, with a possible Steve Nash return against the Knicks who just ran them off the floor.
Phoenix Suns(10-15, 3-7 in last 10, Current Streak: 3 Wins)
-For all the flack that I give Phoenix, they are only a game behind the Lakers after a solid three game win streak last week, including an impressive win over Memphis. While this team’s issues are by no means fixed, the Shannon Brown starting over Michael Beasley seems to be working in some regard. As the trade deadline looms, Marcin Gortat’s name is going to come up more and more, and you have to imagine this could get to a team when one their few good guys could be gone at any minute. A quick suggestion? Lock up great locker room guys like Dragic, Dudley and Scola, find a few ways to get young talent and draft picks, and start the rebuiling process. Oh, and find a team stupid enough to take on Michael Beasley.(More stupid than you, of course.)
Sacramento Kings(7-17, 3-7 in last 10, Current Streak: 5 Losses)
-The Kings currently have one win on the road all year, over the Blazers when half of their starting lineup was sitting with injuries. The have lost five straight, their second five game losing streak of the season and fourth 3+ game losing streak of the season. This team is fourth to last in team PER and third to last in overall efficiency per 100 possessions. Even worse, their best player has already missed three games due to suspension, and doesn’t seem to be learning his lesson. Are the Sacramento Kings the new Wizards in prettier colors? It is starting to look like it.
Interesting Pacific Games coming up:
Charlotte @ LAL
New Orleans @ Golden State
Golden State @ Sacramento
New Orleans @ LAC
Sacramento @ LAC
LAL @ Golden State
Phoeniz @ Portland
LAC @ Phoenix
Until Next time, Your amazing YouTube Clip!