Thursday, March 30, 2017
We're approaching the end of the NBA's regular season. This has been a fun one, with the three-pointers, the triple-doubles, the heated MVP race and the meshing of the Bay Area's superstar team. But we're seeing some twists toward the end of the regular season, as injuries have impacted several contenders and tightened races for home-court advantage. Let's dig in, shall we?
1) Russell the Love Muscle's Triple-Double Chase - It's in the Bag
After his latest ridiculous stat-line last night, Russell is averaging 31.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 10.4 apg this season. So the triple-double stat line is well within reach. Through 74 games, Russell Westbrook has 769 assists. That's a 10.4 per game clip. To ensure a triple-double, he needs 51 more in his last eight games, or 6.4 per game. So it's possible he clinches this portion of the feat in the next 4-5 games. He has 781 rebounds so far this season. At 10.6 per game, he only needs 39 more in his last eight games, a 4.9 per game clip.
2) The Eastern Conference Race for the #1 Seed is Wide Open
The Cavaliers are first right now, with 26 losses from their 73 games played. The Celtics are second, with 27 losses and 75 games played. The surprising Wizards are in the mix as well, with 28 losses and 74 games played. With the Cavs "reeling" (5-5 in their last ten games), both other teams have a legitimate shot. The real upshot of the #1 seed (other than home-court) is that you theoretically can play Toronto in the second round and avoid one of the other two. Methinks the Cavs pull this out, but will be fun to watch in the next three weeks.
3) The Western Conference Race - Also Wide Open
At press time, it is halftime of the Warriors-Spurs game, and the Spurs are leading by three at home. Going into the game, the Warriors had a 60-14 record and the Spurs had a 57-16 record. A Spurs win tonight would put them 1.5 games back, but only one back in the loss column. I think the Spurs get it done this year. Coach Pop has to be aware of the psychological significance of taking homecourt advantage, especially since the Spurs won the first two head-to-head match-ups this year, and are now leading in the third. I think the crew in San Antone gets it done and takes the #1 seed.
4) Back to the Thunder - is Big Russ the MVP?
Today, my vote goes to Harden, given the Rockets' strong season (especially relative to the Thunder) and the comparability of his stat line (29/11/8) to Westbrook's (32/10/10). I am not a sucker for the "all in double-digits" pizzazz. But we still have about 10% of the regular season to go, so I have time to change. And the middle of the pack is pretty tight. The 4-6 seeds (Jazz, Clippers, Thunder) are separated by only two games in the loss column. Getting to the #4 seed would mean a team is only one spot behind the Rockets. So if Russ can lift his team higher (the #5 seed seems inevitable, given the Clippers find a way to suck balls at the end of every regular season), the MVP race could get tighter.
Happy viewing, fockers.