NBA Weekly Wrap is my own brief recap of the week. My rising team and the falling team of the week. The top 5 player performances.
RISING TEAM: INDIANA PACERS
Defensive Dominance: Indiana is getting mainstream media love like never before. The small market team has won nine of its past eleven and is only allowing 80.2 points in their last four games. The mid-season hype hasn’t just come from a stint of games, but from overall season consistency. In 35 wins this season the Pacers are smothering offenses, only allowing them only shoot 39% from the field and 30% from downtown. The defense starts with offensively challenged Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is fourth in the NBA in blocks and first in overall defensive rating. He beats out defensive standouts Larry Sanders and Tim Duncan in defensive rating. Paul George and George Hill provide the tough perimeter defense. Their highlight win of the week was owning the Knicks by 36 points on Wednesday night. The Knicks shot 33% from the field and Melo, Felton, Amare, and J.R. combined for an abysmal 28 percent shooting. It is hell trying to attack the paint against Indiana because of they’re speed and length. Indiana has taken over as the 2nd seed and is the team with the tools to harass Miami in a playoff series.
Crashing the boards: The Pacers have 3 players over 7 rebounds per game. David West(7.6), Paul George(7.9), Roy Hibbert(8.1) are the top rebounders on the team. The elite rebounding team in the league with 46 per contest. Indiana’s superiority in rebounding is also on the offensive glass. They are third in the league in offensive boards and Hibbert leads the team with 3.7 per game. Like their defense, Indiana dominates the glass with their length and aggressive attitude towards missed shots.
Improving offense: Still a work in progress but Indiana is becoming a threat to score 100 a night. Averaging 100.7 ppg over the last 10 games raises hope that the Pacers might be able to win games at both ends. Paul George has been on a tear with his three point shooting and transition game. Elias Sports Bureau says the Pacers are 1st team to win its 1st 2 games immediately following the All-Star break, each by 30+ points. Pretty incredible. Now with Granger back from injury it will be interesting to see how that affects their offense.
FALLING TEAM: NEW YORK KNICKS
Ugly Losses: The Knicks look bad, real bad. The Knicks have lost 4 in a row and are on a free fall. They are 14-15 since starting 18-5. New York was ran off the floor by the Pacers and allowed 74 points at halftime. To sum up how ugly they played, the Knicks had as many personal fouls as made shots. When you are hacking as much as you make shots, you have a hit rock bottom as a team. Nothing wrong with losing to the surging Pacers, but getting outplayed by the Wizards by 10 and losing a game of hero ball against the Raptors twice is not good moving forward. The Knicks are 4-5 in February and have dropped to the third seed.
Melo cooling off: Carmelo Anthony was the front runner for MVP by most media outlets and was playing the best ball of his career for two months. After averaging 32points, shooting 47% from the field, 42% from downtown, and only two turnovers a game, Melo has gone down in every stat category. In the month of February Carmelo is averaging 24.6points, 40% from the field,33% from three and is at 3.5 turnovers. He has become a shadow of his old self with volume shooting, sloppy ball handling and passing. It is very simple, if the Knicks want to make a deep playoff run, Melo must get better.
Forcing shots: The Knicks have gone down in field goal % and 3 point % every month since November. In November the Knicks shot 45% from the field and a league best 42% from three. February has become a month of volume shooting for New York(41%FG) (34%3PT). The Knicks average more three point attempts in losses than they do in games they win. In tight games the Knicks no longer run an offense. It is have J.R. and Melo play hero ball, become complacent, and take low percentage shots. This starts with Mike Woodson, who should design plays with more off ball action to become less predictable.
TOP 5 PLAYER PERFORMANCES
#5: Dwight Howard vs. Celtics(2/20): 24pts 12reb 7 0ff. reb 10-13FG
Dwight looked fresh Wednesday night against Boston looking like his old self. He dominated in the paint early with five made shots in the 1st quarter. Dwight was active on the glass and did a great job setting picks to get Kobe and Nash open. Dwight got himself open easy for dunks and made easy shots in the paint with some put backs and lay ins. The frontcourt of Boston gave little resistance and let Dwight have his way.
#4: Tony Parker vs. Clippers(2/21): 31pts 2reb 7ast 12-16FG 9-9FT
Tony Parker is playing MVP basketball and is owning the month of February. He also owned the Clippers on TNT. An all around efficient game only missing four shots. He blew by Clippers defenders and was getting to the basket easily. Parker was 6 for 7 on layups and was 6 for 9 on jump shots. This is another game Vinny Del Negro was owned by Tony Parker.
#3: Jeff Green vs. Suns (2/22): 31pts 7reb 4ast 5blk 2stl 11-14FG 3-53pt
Jeff Green took the starting spot for Garnett who took the night off. What a stat sheet for Green. He took Phoenix defenders to rack every time he touched the ball and was in isolation mode for most of his points. He was on fire with his jumper making 8 out of 10. Green and Avery Bradley ran the break well and found each other for buckets. A great game defensively for him with 5 blocks and steals. Luis Scola saw the back of Jeff Green’s jersey a lot Friday night.
#2 Russell Westbrook vs. T’Wolves(2/22): 37pts 7reb 9ast 13-22FG 9-9FT
A season high in points this season for Westbrook. This is his 11th game this season with 30 plus points and his 32nd game with 8assists or more. Russy started off making his signature dribble, hesitate, pull up Js. As usual he was aggressive early and was 7 for 8 on layups. It was a normal game for him but stats wise his best all around game of the season.
#1 James Harden vs. Thunder(2/20): 46pts 8reb 6ast 14-19FG 7-83PT 11-12FT
Let me be cliche and say if you looked up the definition of efficiency, you’ll see a picture of James Harden. An incredible night shooting from the field, taking 19 shots with 46pts, with one missed 3, and one missed FT. Harden was making shots all over the court, 5-7 on layups and 9 for 11 on jumpers. He went at OKC defenders with pull up threes or he cut them up with crossover dribbles and straight drives. Mr. Beard had one ridiculous half court shot that said sure enough this guy can’t miss. Outscoring Durant in the 4th by 12 points, Harden finally got his revenge game after to bad performances against OKC this season.
SOSA FUN STATS:
– Ty Lawson scores more, and is better from the field in Denver losses (16.3ppg 47%fg)
– In the past 3 games, OKC has only missed 4 free throws