Southwest Division Roundup

SOUTHWEST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK L10
San Antonio 25 8 .758 13-2 12-6 8-0 14-6 105.5 96.5 +9.1 Won 6 7-3
Memphis 19 9 .679 3 ½ 13-3 6-6 3-2 10-6 94.7 90.0 +4.6 Lost 1 5-5
Houston 17 14 .548 7 12-6 5-8 2-5 5-12 105.8 103.8 +2.0 Won 1 7-3
Dallas 13 19 .406 11 ½ 8-6 5-13 1-3 5-11 98.5 102.8 -4.4 Won 1 2-8
New Orleans 7 24 .226 17 3-13 4-11 0-4 2-15 91.4 97.5 -6.0 Lost 1 2-8


The streaking Spurs look to have once again taken control of this division from the Grizzlies, but this isn’t the only story-line here in the Southwest.  Read after the jump for the division breakdown:

San Antonio Spurs:
Last Weeks Games: 3-0
1. Win vs. Houston 122-116
2. Win @ Dallas 111-86
3. Win vs. Brooklyn 104-73

Upcoming Games:
1. Jan 2nd @ Milwaukee 8:00
2. Jan 3rd @ NYN 7L30
3. Jan 5th vs. Phili 8:30
4. Jan 7th @ New Orleans 8:00

Since Dropping 4 of 5 games in mid-December, the Spurs have now won 6 in a row including 4 divisional games all while reassuring Spurs fans that this team remains tops in the Southwest. The Spurs are both 3rd in points per game (105.5) and Point differential (9.0), but really across the board in all offensive categories this team ranks in the top 5.  Despite having some excellent front court players in Duncan and Tiago Splitter, this team does struggle at rebounding due to its lack of athleticism.  I’d say this is the teams’ biggest obstacle at making a long playoff run, as it ranks 16th in rebound differential.  As I mentioned last week and will again this week, the team has 7 players averaging above 9.5 points per game in what is an impressive display of depth most teams just can’t match.  On any given night, one of these 7 (or yet even another bench player like Steven Jackson) can lead this team in scoring.  While they are flawed as pointed in out in their rebounding woes, the Spurs are the best in the division and one of the top in the NBA.  As always, Coach Pop has this group playing at a high level with consistency.

Memphis Grizzlies:
Last Weeks Games: 1-2
1. Loss vs. Phili 99-89
2. Win vs. Denver 81-72
3. Loss @ Indi 88-83

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight @ Boston 7:00
2. Jan 4th vs. Portland 8:00
3. Jan 6th @ Phoenix 8:00
4. Jan 7th @ Sacramento 10:00

A rough week for Memphis could be turned around quickly as they face the fading Celtics as well as Western Conference Pushovers Phoenix and Sacramento in the coming week.  What plagued the Grizz this past week was horrendous shooting.  As a team they were not able to shoot over 40.5% during any of their three games, displaying both a lack of confidence as well as execution.  Going into the 4th in Indianapolis this team was up 7, but was just unable to execute as the hounding Pacer defense proved too much for them to overcome.  I really need to see this team work Marc Gasol in the post a little more, which would allow Rudy Gay to work off the ball, something he can excel at with his quickness.  Being a halfcourt team, they need to run crisper plays and get there scorers into better positions.  While the team plays great defense itself, it won’t win big games without the ability to have a go-to play or player.  This team will no doubt turn it around and get back to winning ways after last week, but i can’t say they have my confidence as a dangerous team if there offense doesn’t make significant progress.  They are 1st in points allowed per game at 90 but are in the bottom half in both points scored and shooting percentage.  One aspect I do love about this team is that they are 3rd in the NBA in free throw percentage as a team, shooting nearly 80%.  If they only had a go to scorer….

Houston Rockets:
Last Weeks Games: 1-2
1. Loss @ San Antonio 122-116
2. Loss vs. OKC 124-94
3. Win vs Atlanta 123-104

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight vs. NO 8:00
2. Jan 4th @ Milwaukee 8:30
3. Jan 5th @ Cleveland 7:30
4. Jan 8th vs. LA 8:00

The Rockets faced excellent competition this week, as they fell short to San Antonio in a shootout and got crushed by OKC before delivering the blowout to the Hawks.  This up and down week for the team from ClutchCity was not unexpected nor was it discouraging.  After winning 7 of 8 heading into this week, the team faced one of the most difficult 2 game stretches any team can face as it lost to both the Spurs and Thunder. The response against a good Atlanta team was exactly what Rockets fans wanted to see as they played the uptempo style to perfection. They scored 26 fast break points, but even pushing the pace on made baskets and getting shots up before the defense was settled allowed a bevy of open three point shots. The team shot 55% from downtown making 16 of 29.   Houston continues to be near the top of the league in scoring sitting just a tenth of a point outside of the Thunder who average 105.9 points per game. The backcourt acquired in the offseason, James  Harden and Jeremy Lin, look to be getting in rhythm with each other, and as a fan it’s a really fun sight to behold.  As both are excellent ball handlers, it allows the Rockets to outlet the ball to either player getting the ball up into the offensive end nearly immediately upon having possession.  We all know Harden, Lin, Omer Asik, and more recently Chandler Parsons have been getting huge props around the NBA, but I want to zero in on another young stud for this team, second year player Marcus Morris. Morris is a X-factor for this team as his athleticism around the hoop as well as his ability to knock down the three ball have been a big part of the turnaround for Houston.  He is averaging 9.5 points to go along with 4 boards, but he is shooting nearly 40% from downtown, a terrific number.  Houston has scorers at every position and Morris is just one of many contributors, but his game looks to be one that will play in the league for many years to come.

Dallas Mavericks:
Last Weeks Games: 1-3
1. Loss @ OKC 111-105 OT
2. Loss vs. Denver 106-85
3. Loss vs. San Antonio 111-86
4. Win @ Washington 103-94

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight @ Miami 7:30
2. Jan 5th vs. NO 8:30
3. Jan 7th @ Utah 9:00

The Mavs ended their six game slide with a win against the lowly Wizards last night, a game in which Dirk played his best ball since returning.  I’m still skeptical whether this team has the ability to make waves in the playoffs, but I do enjoy it’s veteran core, especially the inspired play of Vince Carter and Chris Kaman of late.  It’s still difficult to evaluate this team without Dirk being fully healthy, but last night making 5 of 7 shots for 11 points in 17 minutes was a step in the right direction.  If Dirk can get healthy, and we will know this if he is getting to the free throw line or not, then I still think this team can be dangerous come playoff time, but for now I see them as a team just missing the postseason. I hope I’m wrong though, cause it’d be fun to see Vincesanity do things like this on a bigger stage (The reaction of the fans sitting courtside was exactly my reaction from my couch):

New Orleans Hornets:
Last Weeks Games: 2-2
1. WIn @ Orlando 97-94
2. Loss vs. Toronto 104-97 OT
3. Win @ Charlotte 98-95
4. Loss vs. Atlanta 95-86

Upcoming Games:
1. Tonight @ Houston 8:00
2. Jan 5th @ Dallas 8:30
3. Jan 7th vs. San Antonio 8:00

Eric Gordon made a loud return to action scoring 24 points in 24 minutes while dishing out 7 dimes in the teams win against the Bobcats.  He struggled in the loss to Atlanta, but I can only assume that as he gets in game shape, he will be better at playing in multiple games in a week.  His introduction into this lineup does amazing things for this team as it gives them not only a true play-maker  but another ball handler on the floor.  All I want from the Hornets is for them to work on the pick and roll/pop with Gordon and Davis.  This team could be solid if they are able to play those two in a two-man-game at the top of the key successfully. Okay, I can only stomach enough Hornets talk right now. Can Will Ferrell announce another lineup for the Hornets already? I could talk about that all day…

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