There have been a lot of coaching moves in the NBA in recent weeks. The major shake-up happened in Cleveland when David Blatt got fired last month. Jeff Hornacek, the former coach of the Suns, was also sent packing in Phoenix earlier this month. Now Derek Fisher is out in New York with Kurt Rambis, the former Assistant Coach, moving in as the interim head coach.
The news of Fisher’s firing was first reported by Ramona Shelburne and ESPN’s Marc Stein. The change comes amidst a five-game losing streak that has largely taken the Knicks out of contention in the Atlantic Division. Entering play on Monday, Fisher’s Knicks were 13 games back of the Toronto Raptors and just 23-31 overall. Noting a 9-17 record as visitors, the Knicks were particularly poor on the road under Fisher this season.
However, 23-31 is still good enough to stay within striking distance of a playoff spot. Currently, Detroit are 27-25 on the year, and they hold the 8th playoff seed. Either Rambis or the new permanent head coach will need to have him team playing well over the balance of the regular season to potentially sneak into the post-season. In fact, if the Knicks can turn things around under a new coach even a 6th placed finish in the conference is not out of the question since there is very little between the bottom three playoff spots right now.
But the burying of the Knicks in the Atlantic Division is not just due to their poor play of late. Both Toronto and Boston have been two of the hottest teams in the conference. Each enters Monday with nine wins in their last ten games, and they have emerged as potentially high playoff seeds. With Cleveland a little off the pace of late, the top spot in the East is very much up for grabs over the next couple of months.
Conversely, in the Western Conference basically, nothing is up for grabs except for the scraps. OKC, Golden State, and San Antonio are all locks for the divisional titles while fans are focused on the latter two teams and the record books. Golden State, at 46-4, are chasing 73 wins and a perfect record at home on the year. The Spurs are also perfect at home thus far with a 43-8 record overall.
The individual leaders for important stats are Stephen Curry at 29.8 points per game, Andre Drummond at 14.9 points per game, and Rajon Rondo at 11.8 assists per game. Currently, Curry is a huge favorite to win the NBA MVP award, with one oddsmaker making him 1 to 10 for the achievement (Source: Ladbrokes). Such odds would imply a greater than 90% chance of winning the MVP award.
With the Super Bowl over, NBA basketball now promises to take a bigger spotlight. The playoffs are scheduled to start on April 16th with March Madness college basketball playoffs to play out in the mean time (the NCAA championship game is Monday, April 4th).