With less than 2 weeks to go before the PlayOffs, an interesting battle has been brewing among 3 teams from both conferences for the last 2 spots — again, for both conferences! Yup, a real tight race. Yet from these teams, who are really worthy of watching?
But first, how do we define ‘worthy’ here? Well, ‘worthy’ is more than just having their share of stars — it’s about their ability to put up a fight against the top seed of their conference; and perhaps even beat them in their series. Shocker?? Certainly not. That’s why they’re worthy opponents! Let’s briefly review the contenders.
EAST. Indiana 41-36. Detroit 41-36. Chicago 39-38.
For this group, the most worthy among the 3 is the Pistons. Since they have a matchup against any Cav, they have given Cleveland problems with their style of play. Most of all, they’re steadier than either the Pacers or the Bulls this season.
Meantime, the Pacers just really has Paul George to rely on. Monta Ellis is kinda erratic and so is George Hill. Good news is that lately, Myles Turner has been giving Indiana a shot in the arm.
As for the Bulls, oh my the Bulls! They should in fact be among the top 3 teams of the East, but what happened? Injuries. New coach. And for this team, that’s big. Thibs is a defensive maestro while Hoiberg values the opposite which is why the team is struggling — like having an amnesia of who they really are. Result? Character issues. Worse, they’re even thinking of trading their most important pieces — Butler, Noah, Gasol, Gibson — my, all you really need to do is rediscover that magic and not drop anybody.
Maybe Hoiberg just really needs to be a little more vocal — this could get the team more committed. Next season.
WEST. Dallas 39-38. Utah 39-38. Houston 38-39.
On the Western side, the Mavericks must be it. While Deron will be back, their biggest ‘lack’ would just be losing Parsons to injury as he could have really helped especially alternating with Matthews on ‘productive’ nights. Well, the Mavs should just be able to maximize their strengths. Hey, how about using JaVale a little more? His athleticism could certainly help even against ‘small ball’.
Now for one of the most disappointing teams this season — the Rockets. Not just that they were in the Conference Finals last year but hey, the team actually has talent! And it’s just going to waste because of James Harden’s ball dominance. The good thing though is that they got a revitalized Michael Beasley who’s finally displaying what being a number 2 overall pick is — thanks to ‘playing time’ brought about by the Rockets’ desperation.
Finally the Jazz. Know what they really need? Toughness. They’re a promising team but without ‘toughness’, they wouldn’t go very far. Toughness is something that never — never takes a break. But the Jazz does, in fact, they don’t really have much of it so their roller coaster ride. Just like the Bulls, maybe next year.