The top teams in the Western Conference continue to thrive by feasting on the lower seeds. It’s another year where the Western Conference is as loaded as a Marvel cast party. Meanwhile, the “resurgent” East with KD, Harden, Jimmy Buttler, Westbrook, Jayson and Jaylen, the rising Sixers, and the Bucks, has only four teams over .500 and maintains its reputation as the Leastern Conference.
Happy Presidents Day! Let’s travel back in time. Happy Valentine’s Day! Before the conclusion of the Sunday night games, the top seven teams in the Western Conference were all on win streaks. While the bottom six teams were on losing streaks. The top tier clubs have been feasting on the league and the lower seeds are struggling to keep up.
In the present, on Monday, this clean open was disrupted by last night’s outcomes. The seven seed Denver Nuggets held on to dispel the two seed Lakers after AD aggravated his Achilles. Both teams were riding 7 game win streaks going into the game. The Thunder beat the Bucks and the Timberwolves beat the Raptors. Still, those are wins against Eastern Conference opponents. So my point is that the top of the West is nasty.
The shining light for the bottom tier is that there are play-in games for the last two playoff spots this season. If you can squeak out a spot, you can play your way into facing the #1 team and losing in 5 games. Alright, let’s rebound.
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis basically went Mario Brothers on the New Orleans Pelicans. Luka dropped 46-8-12 and KP chipped in 36 PTS with 8 deep balls.
In that same game, Zion Williamson also scored 36 PTS. He did so on 14/15 shooting. That’s the first time since Jonas Valanciunas in 2015 that someone has shot that high of a percentage on that many shots.
Rookie Seddiq Bey of the Detroit Pistons stunned the Celtics for 30 PTS and 12 REB in their upset on Friday. He hit 7 of 7 threes. The Celtics passed on him in the draft to pick Aaron Nesmith who has 33 total points this season.
The good news: Kemba Walker showed up for the Celtics, scoring 25 PTS and adding 7 REBS. The bad news: They lost again to the Wizards by 13 points and it wasn’t actually that close. Bradley Beal was dominant again, with 35-7-5 on 55% shooting. The Celtics are now 13-13 following a 5-10 skid.
Steph Curry and the Couriers faced off against the Big 3 in Brooklyn on Saturday night. It felt like a sheriff facing off against the bandit posse. Annnnd the sheriff died. But he fired a valiant 17 shots for 27 PTS as he fell.
James Harden had 19 PTS and 16 REBS in that shootout. The Nets scored 134. Harden is now averaging a neat 24-8-11 on the season. Last year LeBron averaged 25-8-10 and was second in MVP voting.
The Jazz just keep on playing their same old tune. They’ve now won 18 of their last 19 games. And they haven’t had Mike Conley—arguably their best player this season—for the last four.
On Sunday, Giannis coasted to a 27-17-10-3-3 and yet the Bucks lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are scrappy.
Mason Plumlee has 23 ASTS and 30 REBS in his last three games including a triple-double of 17-10-10 on Sunday. Big man making plays.
As I said in the open, the Lakers lost to the Nuggets last night in Mile High. AD may miss some time, which is not good for the champs. Bron continued the best three-point shooting season of his career hitting 4 of 7 from deep.
On the other side of the ball, the Nugs star duo showed up as Joker had 25 and Murray had 23. But their budding third star, the prodigal Michael Porter Jr. continued to struggle, hitting just 3/11 shots for 8 PTS. Since returning from COVID, MPJ is shooting under 40%. Safe to say we don’t yet understand the long-term impact of the virus.