Words by Phlip
I was wrong about Miami not defending as they should have and LeBron not winning another MVP. I apologize for that too.They are making this look REALLY easy in the process. They’re playing amazing team basketball on both ends of the floor, they’re having fun beating all comers – good teams and bad ones – and have an enviable schedule ahead of them that includes Cleveland (twice), Detroit, Charlotte (twice), Orlando (twice), New Orleans, Philly, Washington and the Knicks making up the most of their remaining games. It stands to reason that they will close the season with this mountain of momentum that will see them tearing through the playoffs like the 2000-01 Lakers. I cannot see any team in the East competing with them, especially when the playoffs are upon us.
Their real challenges as they charge toward the consecutive wins record are against Boston, San Antonio and Chicago, but the former teams are getting a bit long in the tooth for what the Heat are bringing on the nightly and Chicago will be overmatched with Miami sporting the momentum they have at hand. Make special note of how I neglected mention of the fact that the Knicks are also in Miami’s late-season games and take that for what you will.
And now the Knicks…
Carmelo’s lack of conditioning caught up to him. He would be dangerous if he was as committed to being and staying in shape as, say, LeBron, Kobe or even Tim Duncan. Alas, he married an entertainer and has to do entertainer things when he is not working during the summer and his knee paid the price for it. Then Amar’e Stoudemire’s knee decided to show precisely why his contract is not insured and he could not compete in the Olympics. What was NOT expected was having Tyson Chandler go down or having to play Kenyon Martin real minutes. With the injuries taking them on to 4 straight losses, it is fully possible that the Knicks could fall to as low as 5th in the conference if they keep hemorrhaging games at this rate. Granted, this would require an unlikely run by the Hawks and PERHAPS the Bulls, but again it is fully possible if they can’t put it together. Bear in mind, as well, that if this happens Mike Woodson will be on the hottest of seats if history tells us anything.
And now for the Lakers…
Luck being as it is, they were granted a slide on the part of the Jazz at the same time THEY started which placed them in that 8th spot and therefore in the playoffs. Then Kobe sprained his ankle and caught the flu at the same time. Alas, someone must have prayed or something, as they pulled off an unlikely in against the Pacers to hold on to that spot as they enter an easier section of their own schedule. Don’t look now, but it is reasonable to say that – pending a slide on the part of both Houston (minor) and Golden State (monumental) – that the Lakers could climb as high as the 6th seed. Given the aforementioned value of momentum heading into the playoffs, they would be the most dangerous 6th-seeded team we’ve seen in a while. Bear in mind, though, this requires some magic with people coming back from injuries and getting almost immediately back into the swing of things. Things being as they are, I will be surprised if they don’t manage to lose 3 or 4 straight games and find themselves right back into the Lottery. Naturally, this is not what I WANT to happen, but I am done lying to myself and being disappointed with these guys this season.
Don’t look now, but we’re now down to the last month of the season and it is coming into place who will be in the playoffs and who will start shutting their All-Stars down and preparing for next year. This season has felt like there have only been about 5 teams in the NBA and the playoffs will apparently not change that even if the Lakers DON’T make it. I am at the point where I am back to the feeling that it will take a major meltdown and terrible play from LeBron for Kevin Durant to wrest that MVP from him this year, and I am on record as saying that the Heat will sweep the conference playoffs.
We’re learning that the Clippers are a highlight reel-filling team and will always be good for that, even in bad games. When the playoffs are upon us, they will be a first-round exit in my opinion. Keep in mind, as well, that they will THEN have the task of convincing Chris Paul to stay as well.
We still cannot ignore the Spurs, who are still near the top of the league and Tim Duncan is playing like it was 5 years ago somehow. Tony Parker has been down injured and they still manage to make it through. If he is back and reasonably healthy in the playoffs, they’re a Western Conference Finals team and will lose to OKC again. As good as Memphis has been, this is still not their year. I expect them to fully arrive next year.
I know it has been a while since you have heard from us. Life has had a funny way of throwing us these curveballs. I don’t intend to be too far away for the remainder, considering it is about to be time for college and professional basketballs’ best times.
photo courtesy of ocnnreport.com