Welcome back once again. Seeing as Christmas is right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for a four part; all you can read NBA mini series. There are new developments in the NBA every night, leading to great clips of buzzer beaters and draw dropping plays. We’ll start with the playoff standings as of December 21st and break down how each “playoff team” got there. The first piece will follow the Eastern Conference and the second will be devoted to the Western Conference. By the 4th article in the series, you will know everything going on across the NBA leading up to the tremendous match-ups scheduled for Christmas day. As always, let’s begin with the lighter side of the NBA.
Eventually there will be a piece devoted to the various ways James, Wade, and Bosh photo bomb each other, but for now add this one to the collection.
- Indiana Pacers (21-5) — There isn’t much surprise here. They’re keeping pace with the Western Conference powerhouses and their inter conference rivals, the Heat. Between Indiana and Portland, these two teams boast the most top to bottom starting five. In addition to this, they are getting valuable minutes from Luis Scola and CJ Watson off the bench. Things only get better as Danny Granger is expected to return from injury sooner rather than later, making this lethal team even more dangerous.
- Miami Heat (20-6) — South Beach has been rather quiet lately, that is if you believe Dwyane Wade‘s comments on the Heat. In a sit down interview with the one and only Stephen A. Smith, Wade claimed that the Heat let their play do the talking, not their mouths. Interestingly enough Wade also hinted that he believes the Pacers are a team the Heat will have to go through to get to the Finals. Why can’t it just be May already? LeBron James leads the league in PER with an impressive 30.0 while also putting on one of the best statistical shooting seasons of his career; flirting with .601.
- Atlanta Hawks (15-12) – Jeff Teague is one of the best guards that no one talks about. Everyone hears about John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, and Damian Lillard but people forget about Teague’s talent. He’s helped the Hawks climb out of an early hole and 6 wins over their past 8 games. Teague also ranks 13th in free throws made (124) and 4th in total assists (217).
- Boston Celtics (12-15) — I don’t know if this is a pleasant surprise or not because I had high expectations for an extremely poor season. Brad Stevens is easily my favorite coach in the NBA this year and what he’s done with what he’s got is rather impressive. The emergence of Jared Sullinger as a Kevin Love 2.0 is promising with his knack for double digit rebounds and new found sweet spot beyond the 3-point line. What hurts any Celtics’ player is the rotation Stevens uses during games. Leading to up and down numbers but Sully is emerging as a solid piece for years to come.
- Charlotte Bobcats (13-14) — If there is one surprise from this list of teams, the Bobcats may be it. It’s baffling actually when you consider their ranked 28th in Field Goal percentage (.423), 28th in points per game (92.0), and dead last in 3-point field goal percentage (.305). Kemba Walker has been a workhorse for the Bobcats so far. Ranked 12th in the league in total minutes played (955), 20thin field goals made (179), and 17th in total steals (42).
- Detroit Pistons (13-15) — Through this point in the season, this team is my pick for biggest bust. Of course every team needs time to mesh so I will cut them some slack, but they’re playing in an Eastern Conference with only three teams with winning records. The collective talent level between Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe seems to indicate that they’re ready to take the next step to an elite level but this team needs some time. I’ll continue to harp on these guys all season long so I apologize in advance. They do own the crown for most rebounds (1245) and that is a big reason why they were able to claim a huge victory over the Heat in Miami.
- Washington Wizards (11-13) — The two unsung stars of this team are Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza. A lot of credit has gone to John Wall, which is well deserved, but Wall is getting more help from his supporting cast. Beal averages 20.3 points per game which leads the team while Ariza chips in 15 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 1.9 steals per game.
- Toronto Raptors (10-14) – Unfortunately I don’t see this team sneaking into the playoffs, but hey, for now they’re playing the Pacers, so they got that going for them! They’ve had a stretch of 5 wins and 5 loses which doesn’t help them move up the standings but they have a chance to get into the playoffs thanks to a weak Atlantic Division. The Celtics can easily tank and lose games and open up a possible 3 or 4 seed for the winner of this division. They are not a good rebounding team. They’re ranked 27th with 1034 total rebounds.
From past articles, you can certainly notice the weakness of the Eastern conference. Eastern conference “playoff teams” have a combined record of 116-96. Which is above .500 but when you look at the Western Conference (143-65) they have a little bit of catching up to do.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a look at the Western Conference playoff picture and more NBA. As always, continue to enjoy.