Written by: Mikey Ryan
Twitter: @wingspansports (we’ll follow back, you won’t regret it)
The Christmas games yesterday were a fantastic way to celebrate the Holiday. Just look at the match-ups we got to see.
Kristaps Porzingis going against Joel Embiid to start the day. Embiid dominated the Knicks and the 76ers outscored the Knicks 90-65 when Embiid was on the court.
Following that, we get an NBA FInals rematch with Golden State and the Cleveland Cavaliers (legitimate beef is starting to occur between LeBron James and Kevin Durant).
The Wizards and John Wall (who showed last night he may be fully recovered from his knee injury) had a statement win against the Celtics. The loss knocked the Celtics from the top spot of the Eastern Conference.
Former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden put on a show combing for 60 points, 25 assists and 14 rebounds in their game. The Thunder came out on top which marks their fifth consecutive win. The team is starting to jell in OKC as they are now up to fifth in the West standings,
In the overnight, Minnesota pulled away from a depleted Lakers team in the second half for a 17 point win. Questions about the Wolves are starting to go away as the team has won four in a row and are a season high 8 games over .500.
30. Memphis Grizzlies – record 10-24
The Grizzlies really need to trade Marc Gasol. The team is in salary cap hell and it’s hard to imagine Mike Conley (way too injury prone) and Chandler Parsons (just sucks) having any trade value. Gasol still has some value despite his age (32) and declining play. Gasol won’t have any value in the offseason so it should be priority one to deal him as soon as possible. The Cavaliers, Raptors, and Wizards will be at the top of the list.
29. Atlanta Hawks – record 8-25
The Hawks came into the year with every intention to tank. 33 games into the season, they have the worst record in the league so they are right on schedule. Ersan Illysova and Marco Belinelli are two guys that have an 80% chance of being dealt later on.
28. Dallas Mavericks – record 10-25
The Mavericks are awful. Flat out awful. Losers of 8 of their last 10, the Mavericks should be extreme sellers come deadline time. Wes Matthews, JJ Barea and Nerlens Noel should have some value for contending teams. All could help a contender as players off the bench. The Mavericks should take any deal they can possibly get and try to accumulate as many draft picks as possible.
27. Orlando Magic – record 11-24
An 8 game losing streak has sent the Magic’s season spiraling out of control. Injuries derailed a promising start and the Magic are well on their way to another top 5 selection in the draft. Losing Nikola Vucevic to a broken hand is a killer as he would have drawn plenty of interest in a trade.
26. Los Angeles Lakers – record 11-21
The Lakers are in a free fall. The team has no fell 10 games below .500 and Lonzo Ball is out with a shoulder injury with a questionable return status. Laker fans need to lose the delusion the Lakers are still a premier franchise and players want to go there. The most wins the Lakers have occurred in the past 5 seasons is 27. The young core that is always talked up… yeah, they don’t win.
25. Sacramento Kings – record 11-22
The Kings have lost De’Aaron Fox to an injury but second round pick Frank Mason III has been more than a capable fill in. You can actually argue Mason has been playing better than Fox. Zach Randolph is having a turn back the clock year and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s really committed to the Kings or if he asks to be moved to a contender come February,
24. Charlotte Hornets – record 12-21
The Hornets are in the same boat as the Grizzlies. Overpaid veterans who are not exactly producing and the losses keep piling up. The Hornets should entertain and move Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams if they offers present themselves.
23. Phoenix Suns – record 13-23
The Suns have won three of their past five and continue to play hard despite having significant less talent than the competition without Devin Booker. Devin Booker made his return last night and dropped a cool 32 points after missing 9 games. It’ll be interesting to see if the Suns consider moving TJ Warren. A break out season for a scoring wing on a team friendly contract for the next three seasons should draw high interest.
22. Chicago Bulls – record 11-22
The Bulls have been a completely different team in their past ten games winning seven of them. Kris Dunn and Nikola Mirotic have led the charge for the Bulls and they are starting to play their way out of draft position. Now this could be just a hot stretch of games or maybe the Bulls have figured something out. A comeback win over the Bucks showed the Bulls really are clicking.
21. Brooklyn Nets – record 12-20
Okafor has been a Brooklyn Net for 19 days and has appeared in one game. The Nets continue to say Okafor needs to become better conditioned and they have a plan for him. To me, that tells me Okafor sucks. How the hell can an NBA player be that out of shape he could not play in a 40 point loss? For the life of me, I cannot believe Okafor is any good if dudes like Quincy Acy and Timofey Mozgov are still getting minutes over him.
20. Los Angles Clippers – record 14-19
Want to know bad the Pacific division is? The Clippers are in second play at 6 games below .500. Trading DeAndre Jordan seems inevitable at this point and the fact that Doc Rivers still has a job is a total joke. Rivers is the most overrated coach in the NBA and there’s really not a close second.
19. Utah Jazz – record 15-20
The Jazz are the Knicks of the west. They play tough at home and win close games (12-6 at home) but struggle immensely on the road (3-13). They’re in 9th in the West standings but it’ll be a real difficult climb upwards without Rudy Gobert for the next month.
18. Philadelphia 76ers – record 15-18
The 76ers got a big Christmas day win at MSG over the Knicks. Embiid was a total beast as mentioned above. The 76ers still have lost 8 of their last 10 but only sit two games behind the Knicks and Heat for the final playoff spot in the East. If Embiid stays healthy they have a chance at it.
17. Portland Trailblazers – record 17-16
The Blazers have dropped three of their past four and now find themselves tied with the Pelicans for the 7 spot in the West. Portland being a poor offensive and a strong defensive one is a glitch in the NBA matrix this season. Portland also does a terrible job of sharing the ball ranking last in the NBA in assists.
16. New York Knicks – record – 17-16
The Knicks own the tiebreaker over the Heat due to their win in their only head to head match up for the year. Enes Kanter was absolute beast with 31 points and 22 rebounds against the 76ers. Porzingis is starting to struggle and is developing some bad habits. KP is taking too many rushed shots and bad attempts in the past 3 games since his return from injury. The Knicks really need Hardaway back as a second go to scorer.
15. New Orleans Pelicans – record 17-16
The Pelicans currently rank 17th in the NBA in rebounding which is pretty surprising for a team that starts Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. That’s even including Jrue Holiday who is collecting a career high in rebounds at 4.4 per game. The Pelicans have three upcoming home games against the Nets, Mavericks and Knicks. Anything less than 2 wins would be disappointing.
14. Miami Heat – record 18-16
The Heat are still so banged up yet they’re still in prime position for a playoff run. Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and James Johnson have all missed time in the past two weeks yet they are tied with the Knicks for the final playoff spot. Whiteside made his expected return as the Heat blew out the Magic. The East is shaping up to be a fun playoff race.
13. Milwaukee Bucks – record 17-15
The Bucks have dropped four of their past 6 and have fell down to 7th in the East standings. For a team that had expectations of joining the top half of the East this year, the start has been disappointing especially with the edition of Eric Bledsoe. Good news? jabari Parker is beginning on court activities and should be returning shortly.
12. Indiana Pacers – record 19-15
The Pacers are starting to slip in the East standings losing four of their last 7. Most people probably are expecting them to drop off a bit come the second half of the year. I mean how long can this success really last? The Pacers have been playing well over the heads. It’ll be extremely impressive if they can continue their season success but 38-43 wins seems likely.
11. Denver Nuggets – record 19-15
The Nuggets are coming off two dominate road victories beating the Blazers by 17 and the Warriors by 15. Gary Harris and Jamal Murray may be the best young back court really no one pays attention too and Will Barton is once again a top 6th man in the league once again. The Nuggets have the pieces, they just need to get healthy.
10. Detroit Pistons – record 18-14
The Pistons have won five of six after losing seven in a row to help regain their footing in the East. They do need Avery Bradley back in the rotation to help on the wing. Randy Bullock and Luke Kennard have been serviceable in the meantime but Bradley’s return would be a big addition especially with how they’ve been playing of late.
9. Washington Wizards – record 19-15
The Wizards got a big win on Christmas day over the Celtics and more importantly, it looked as if John Wall was back to being 100%. The Wizards are only .5 game back of the 4 seed in the East. The Wizards do need more bench scoring to help come playoff time.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder – record 19-15
The Thunder may have finally figured out their offense and how they want to play. A five game winning streak has silenced most questions about the teams status and now the Thunder are sitting tied for fifth in the West. The Thunder have a great shot at continuing their winning ways as the play their next 3 games at home where they are 13-4 on the season.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves – record – 21-13
The Wolves have moved to a season high 8 games over .500 and things seem to be clicking at the moment. Winners of four in a row and 7 of the past 10, Minnesota is sitting comfortably at the 4 seed in the West, A first round match up against the Thunder seems inevitable and should be an extremely entertaining series to watch.
6. San Antonio Spurs – record 24-11
Kawhi Leonard is still progressing from his injury and is still on a minutes restriction. The Spurs have no rush to play 36 minutes a night until they absolutely no for sure hes 100%. What’s been so impressive about the Spurs this season is that despite Leonard’s absence, the Spurs are still the number 1 defense in terms of points allowed.
5. Toronto Raptors – record 23-9
Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan both made comments on how they felt the Raptors continue to be disrespected by not playing on Christmas day. Well the Raptors just came out and played completely flat and dropped a road game to the Mavericks. The Raptors still have the best point differential in the East but they’re more of a regular season contender than a postseason one.
4. Boston Celtics – record 27-10
The Celtics are just 5-5 in their past ten games and although they still hold the top spot in the East, they are just 1.5 games up on both the Raptors and Cavs. A report today was that Jaylen Brown is playing with a strained MCL which could be a factor on why he has not been playing as well of late.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – record 24-10
The Cavs are 19-3 since a 5-7 start to the season but still find themselves behind the Celtics in the East standings. That shouldn’t last too much longer. The Celtics are still so young and inexperienced and the Cavs have the best player in the world in LeBron James. The Cavs, despite the tough loss to the Warriors, are the superior team in the East.
2. Houston Rockets – record 25-7
The Rockets are now on a three game losing streak and Chris Paul has missed the past two games dealing with a groin injury. James Harden joined a very short list of players to score 50 plus points in consecutive losses. The Rockets still have the best road record in the league at 12-2.
1. Golden State Warriors – record – 27-7
The Warriors are 9-1 in the past 10 despite playing without Steph Curry and Draymond Green for a majority of the time. Kevin Durant has been so good this season and could win both the NBA MVP and the defensive player of the year. Once the Warriors get to full health, they may be practically unstoppable. I mean, aren’t they already?