The last week of action in the NBA was a good one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The leaders of the Central Division posted victories over Phoenix, Denver, and Orlando – two of which came on the road. Lebron James, in their set of recent wins, had a couple of noteworthy offensive games.
For starters, James went off for 34 against the Nuggets on December 29th and King James scored 29 against the Magic on January 2nd. But what is very promising for Cleveland is that Kyrie Irving is also doing well following his recent return from a lengthy injury.
Irving’s best game so far in the five he has played this season was at Phoenix on the 28th. He led the Cavs’ scorers with 22 points in the outing, shooting about 44% from the field. Players that miss as much time as Irving missed often need some time to work back into rhythm. So far he is averaging 13 points per game and if he can improve upon that he promises to help make Cleveland a far more dangerous foe than what they have looked at many points in the 2015/16 season.
But where Cleveland seemingly appear to be on the upswing, their main rival for the 2016 NBA Championship, the Golden State Warriors, have seen a little bit of bad news. The Warriors suffered a rare loss this past week, one that came on the heels of Steph Curry missing a game due to injury. Curry currently has what seems to be a minor shin problem and his playing time has been limited lately.
Moreover, a close look at Curry’s game log over the last several weeks, even before the shin injury became well known, actually shows that his scoring has in fact been down in general since playing on December 11th. Currently, Curry has an average of 29.7 points per game, but he has not hit or exceeded that average since scoring 38 against Boston last month. If the reigning MVP is not back to his old self soon, I do not think that the Warriors will suffer greatly overall. However, perhaps Lebron or even Kevin Durant could re-enter the picture when it comes to popular opinions on who will receive the MVP this season.
Other division leaders at the moment include the Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat, OKC, and San Antonio. As has been the case for a little while now, only the Eastern Conference features close divisional races. GS, OKC, and the Spurs all lead their respective divisions comfortably in the west.
Interesting games coming up this week include a battle between divisional rivals on Monday night as the Raptors head to Cleveland. On Thursday TNT will feature a large-market game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, two 2nd-placed teams in their divisions.
After that look for the NBA to take a back seat to the NFL for a while as the playoffs will get started with Wild Card Weekend up next. Accordingly, nationally televised games next weekend for basketball fans look pretty sparse, and they promise to be for a few weeks’ time.