Top 5 NBA Storylines Heading Into the All-Star Game
It is always fun to see a team’s franchise player get screamed at by his coach and respond by taking his (and his coach’s) anger out on the opposition.
This has occurred many times this year with Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich. Holding players accountable (even stars) is not a new approach for Coach Pop, but playing an up tempo style of basketball is. The San Antonio Spurs' new approach to offense is one of the main reason's they're sitting at a league best 46-10 heading into All-Star Weekend.
The Spurs have been astounding. Not only is their new style producing wins, but the Spurs are now actually fun to watch. They still believe in the same basic principle -- defense ultimately win championships (they won in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007) -- but they decided to try something new at the beginning of the season and it's working.
In past seasons the Spurs coasted until the end of the season, where they would peak right before the playoffs. This year, however, they came out of the gate smoking the competition, and entertaining the fans in the process.
2. Melo Linked to Many, Traded to None
The Knicks, Nets, Lakers, Rockets, Pistons and Timberwolves. All these teams have, at one point or another, been linked to the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes (some as contenders for Melo, others as facilitators). Now, with the dreaded trade deadline rapidly approaching, it's put up or shut up time for the Nuggets.
Through the first half of the season, there were two very close trades. Well, at least the public saw them as being close.
The first “close” trade was between Detroit, New Jersey and Denver. After weeks of plugging in different pieces in the hope of getting a deal done, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov folded his hand and walked away from the poker table, stating it was taking too long and the trade was too public for his liking.
The second trade may still be in the works. The Knicks, Timberwolves and Nuggets. Different combinations of the trade have been leaked to the press, but the deal seems no closer to being done.
The Knicks should get Spike Lee to direct this trade -- maybe then this whole ordeal would be over.
3. Dallas Digs Deep With Defense
When in recent memory can you say Dallas’ defense has been the catalyst for a hot start (in this case, the fourth-best record in the league)?
But that's exactly what is happening right now.
The Mavericks, similar to the Spurs, have done a 180 when it comes to their playing style. The Mavericks have been playing stifling D (they're allowing an average of 95.6 points against, ninth best in the NBA).
What is the cause of this?
It could be the resurrection of Tyson Chandler as a defensive anchor. Or maybe the message that defense wins championships has finally caught hold with this Mavericks team.
I am going to go with both.
The Mavs' old approach obviously was not working, considering they hadn't been back to the NBA Finals since they lost to the Heat in '06. Dallas was up 2-0 in that series before losing four straight games.
With defense as their primary focus, it is very possible to see the Mavs back in the Finals. Hopefully this time they won’t be on the losing side of the record books.
4. Griffindor Makes the Clippers Exciting Again
We all know the reason why the Clippers are an attraction now. A rising star by the name of Blake Griffin (heard of him?) has sparked a fire for the Clippers.
For the first time in my lifetime, fans in Los Angeles and on the road actually want to watch the Clippers. Let me repeat that. Fans WANT to see the Clippers.
The Clips are an energetic, freakishly athletic, street ball-style playing team. Led by the one of the best dunkers in the league (Griffin), the And-1 style of Baron Davis, the shot blocking prowess (and rim-rattling dunks) of DeAndre Jordan and the sweet stroke of Eric Gordon, who could blame the public for jumping ship to the Clippers side?
Their style of play hasn’t translated into wins yet. The Clippers are a measly 21-34 (5-21 on the road), but this team is built for the future.
Speaking of the future, we will definitely be seeing more sold out crowds at Staples Center (and not just for the Lakers).
5. Derrick Rose as MVP? Why Not?
“Why can’t I be MVP of the league?” I don’t know Derrick Rose, I have faith.
I mean, you have been the leader of the Bulls the whole season and have led them to the fifth-best record in the NBA without your defensive big man and, for the majority of the season, without your scoring big man.
Rose has played a majority of the season without the full support of his supporting cast -- Joakim Noah has not played since Dec. 15 and Carlos Boozer missed the first 15 games of the season. By my standards that's MVP status.
Even with those two major pieces missing, the Bulls have a better record than the Lakers. How can Rose not be mentioned as a serious contender?
If the NBA voted on the criteria that befits the name Most Valuable Player, Rose would be higher on the list. Maybe in a few years, when the NBA is tired of handing the trophy to players who have superior talent around them (i.e. Lebron James), Rose will earn his first MVP.
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