Southwest Division Roundup

Southwest
W
L
PCT
GB
CONF
DIV
HOME
ROAD
L 10
STREAK
17
6
0.739
0.0
8-5
2-1
11-2
6-4
6-4
W 3
19
8
0.704
0.0
10-6
4-0
8-2
11-6
6-4
L 2
13
12
0.520
5.0
3-10
1-4
10-5
3-7
6-4
W 2
12
13
0.480
6.0
5-6
1-0
8-3
4-10
5-5
W 1
5
20
0.200
13.0
2-14
0-3
3-10
2-10
1-9
L 9




San Antonio has had a rough week.  Since I wrote this divisional roundup a week ago, San Antonio has lost 3 of its 4 games, losing to Portland, OKC, and Denver.  While these are some very solid western conference teams, you would expect more from this veteran team.  Their current poor stretch of play has allowed Memphis to jump on top of the standings, leading in the loss column by 2 games.  The Grizz had a great week winning 3 of 4 including their last three.  They have been led by Zach Randolph, who has had double-doubles in all of his teams games but 4 this year.  Over there current three game win streak, he has averaged 15 boards a game on a little less than 34 minutes per contest.  What this team really hangs its hat on is defense.  They rank 1st overall in defensive efficiency according to hoopdata and are third overall in both point differential (+6.6) and team free throw percentage (80.1%). While this team does turn the ball over a little too much, they make up for it with offensive rebounds.  They are currently 5th in the NBA in offensive rebounds, at 13.4 per game, giving them plenty of opportunities to make up for those lost possessions due to turnovers.  While Rudy Gay still struggles to find his shot (41.8%) he is rebounding well at 6 boards a game and continues to provide good energy.  This team is built for the playoffs with defensive stoppers at the guard positions and rebounders along the front line.  While I though this was San Antonio’s division to lose, I now think Memphis is the team to beat.

Not too much to say about San Antonio this week. The played poor defense giving up many open short jump shots to opposing teams.  They definitely struggle facing elite athletes as they are an older team.  Both OKC and Denver, two of the league’s most athletic teams, had there way with San Antonio getting up and down the floor.  While Tim Duncan continues to play really well, he is exposed somewhat in the up and down style of play that is increasingly common among the NBA elite.  Look for them to rebound against some inferior competition over the next week in New Orleans, Dallas, and Toronto.

Houston loves playing the Knicks.  They crushed the Knicks for the second time this season, finishing the sweep with a 109-96 romping of the Knicks in MSG Monday night.  They followed that up with another stellar performance against Phili.  The biggest difference I’ve seen this week between Houston of a few weeks ago and now, is that Jeremy Lin and James Harden seem to now understand how to play with one another.  They space the floor well obviously as both are shooters, but what this allows is driving lines as both of these players thrive at taking the ball to the cup.  James Harden is one of the best players in the NBA.  He can score, create for his teammates, but most importantly he demands double teams.  No defender has been able to handle Harden’s vast array of dribble moves and long strided drives by themselves. This team plays the most up and down style of any team in the league, but will need to learn a half court game if they want to be a playoff team.  We have seen and continue to see incredible improvement from Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Greg Smith and Marcus Morris.  This team will get better and better with time.

Dallas gets Dirk back Christmas day!!!! It’s so hard to evaluate this team without their star, but I’ll do my best.  They have a pretty solid veteran roster, but they lack the real firepower without Dirk.  Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, and Derek Fisher are playing well.  O.J. Mayo is having his best year as a pro, but he is not a #1 option on an NBA team.  If he can play as well now as when Dirk returns this is a really dangerous team.  They don’t do a great job rebounding  but they have excellent ball movement.  They could be once of the surprise teams in the second half. They had a poor last week, and it doesn’t get any easier.  There next 6 games are about as hard as they come: Miami, @Memphis, @ San Antonio, @OKC, Denver, and San Antonio. That could easily be 6 losses.

While Anthony Davis is finally healthy and playing well, this team doesn’t look to be a better product on the floor.  Losers of their last 9 games, they lack any big time scorers as Ryan Anderson leads the team with 18.5 point per game.  Anthony Davis has a ways to go on offense, but the raw talent is there.  He is so smooth with the rock in his hands, but really needs that go to move.  All across the board this team needs to get better. Eric Gordon’s absence continues to be a huge story-line for this team.

This division continues to be a two man race at the top, but both the Rockets and Mavs have playoff aspirations.

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