Now that football is over, I can turn my full attention to basketball.
Unfortunately, this shift coincides with a horrible development: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, one of my favorite players, has torn his ACL and is out for the rest of the season.
This pretty much kills the Celtics’ championship aspirations but, let’s face it, the Celtics were not going to win a championship even with Rondo. Since Rondo went down, it’s actually been surprisingly fun to watch the Celtics, who have played very well, winning five straight games. There’s even been some talk about how the Celtics are better without Rondo, and although this is completely wrong, I will acknowledge that certain Celtics, such as Jason Terry, have been playing better in his absence, though I think it’s worth pointing out that the Celtics’ streak has mostly entailed beating bad teams, such as the Toronto Raptors, and teams that are missing key players, such as the Los Angeles Clippers sans Chris Paul. In any case, it’s going to be tough for the Celtics to make it to the playoffs. All I ask is that they try.
Anyway. Here are some developments I’ve found particularly interesting this NBA season.
— The Lakers have been a huge disappointment, which makes me very happy. I was furious when Dwight Howard was traded to the Lakers last year. For one thing, it just didn’t seem fair — the guy acted like a complete ninny, infuriating his teammates and getting his coach fired, and then got traded to one of the league’s great teams. (I was hoping he would get sent to Toronto, or Sacramento — the NBA equivalent of exile.)
Anyway, Howard is returning from injury and has struggled, and appears to have gotten on Kobe Bryant’s bad side, which, in fairness, probably isn’t that hard to do. Also, Pau Gasol has been whining a lot about how he doesn’t like Coach Mike D’Antoni and is out for the next month or so with a torn plantar fascia, and Metta World Peace just got suspended for doing something dumb. The Lakers might very well claw their way to the eighth seed in the West, for which the prize will be playing the Spurs or the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. To which I say: Good luck with that!
Anyway, tonight the Celtics play the Lakers, and hopefully they can win their seventh game in a row against their evil arch-rivals from the west coast.
— Some unlikely teams have had unlikely resurgences. At least, they’ve struck me as unlikely. I’ve never been a big believer in the Golden State Warriors — I’ve long doubted that Stephen Curry could transform himself into an elite player. But he has, and the Warriors are really pretty good, especially now that they have center Andrew Bogut back.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers have mysteriously become one of the league’s best teams. Despite a notable lack of star power, they appear to be loaded with talent, although I’d be hard pressed to pick their best player, first time All-Star Paul George, out of a crowd. Of course, the Pacers put up a tough fight against the Heat in the playoffs last year, and so the fact that they’re at the top of their division this year probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.
Another positive development has been the success of the Houston Rockets, who traded for James Harden and signed Jeremy Lin, up-and-coming talents who will only get better, in the offseason. The Knicks have fared well in Lin’s absence, but I hate the Knicks, so it’s hard to be happy about it.
— I’m concerned about any trade rumor involving Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, and although I recognize that the Celtics need to make some moves to avoid a slide into complete irrelevance, I’d like them to hang on to Pierce and Garnett, purely for reasons of nostalgia. I imagine a lot of fans feel the way I do, which puts the team in a tough bind, as they must figure out how to rebuild the team without gutting it beyond all recognition. All I know is that I broke out in a sweat when I saw that the Denver Nuggets were interested in acquiring Garnett. Good thing he has a no trade clause!
— There’s already a lot of breathless chatter about playoff positioning, and who is on the bubble, but I expect the same two teams that made it to the finals last year to make it this year: the Miami Heat and Oklahoma Thunder. Except that this year, the Thunder will win. I hope.
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