The NBA wasn’t all that busy over the last week as the All-Star break lagged on. However, the trade deadline did come and go without many major changes. Furthermore, nothing has really changed much in the divisional races.
In the Eastern Conference, the Atlantic Division is still between the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors. NBA.com did a piece on the head coach of the Celtics. In the article the unnamed writer claimed that “Boston has no stars, but it might have the next coach of the year in Brad Stevens, who by all accounts has done a stellar job” (NBA.com).
The point about Stevens is one that I think is very valid, and he’s the main reason I’ve been behind Boston for much of the season. However, it’s a strange comment to say that “Boston has no stars” as Isaiah Thomas is 12th in the league in scoring with 21.6 points per game. Maybe he’s not an established star, but then he is outscoring some players that are. Boston are 4.5 games back of Toronto and may have a hard time making that difference up, however by most accounts they are sitting pretty as the third-placed team in the conference.
Cleveland have been played well lately with a recent 23-point win over the OKC Thunder, a game that the Thunder hosted. Winners of five straight, David Blatt‘s firing is starting to look like the right decision more than ever. The Cavs are currently playing .741 basketball, they appear unlikely to lose their division now, and I have more confidence in them earning the top seed in the east than I did two weeks ago.
In the Southeast Division, there’s what could be called a five-team race for top spot. Orlando is in last place, but they are not really out of the picture, just 6.5 games back. Seems that there’s a whole lot of mediocrity bumping into one another on a nightly basis in that division with Miami and Atlanta currently neck and neck.
Nothing is neck and neck out west as the divisional titles are practically locked down. The Thunder have an 11-game lead over Utah, the Spurs have a 14.5-game lead over Memphis, and Golden State have a 13.5-game lead over the Clippers. With less than 30 games to go those ‘races’ are done-done-and-done with the Pacific and Southwest divisions over before they even started this season.
In regard to Golden State, they have reportedly signed Anderson Varejao, a signing that was originally reported by Yahoo’s Shams Charania and Marc Spears. In a case of the rich getting richer, the signing adds some frontline depth.
Varejao has bounced around a little bit in the last week as he was traded from Cleveland to Portland. The big man was then waived by the Trailblazers and then signed by Golden State. The signing makes the Warriors a little more injury resilient as they prepare for what many are expecting to be a title run when the 2016 NBA playoffs start. It also has to be one that Varajao is happy about as he went from the second favorite to a peripheral favorite to the outright favorite in a short time span.
For key games this week, Golden State will be out on the road as they continue to chase a record-setting season for victories. They will be in Atlanta on Monday, Miami on Wednesday, Orlando on Thursday, and Oklahoma City on Saturday. That truly is a tricky quartet of games and it’s one that I think the Warriors will suffer a setback in.