The Power 16
1. Boston 42-12. Talk about a rough road to start out post all-star break. The men in green took consecutive L's in games at Denver, Golden State and Phoenix, but after tonight's game they will return home to the friendly confines of the eastern conference and look ahead to a showdown with Detroit in a week from wednesday.
Opponents this week: @LA Clippers, Cleveland, Charlotte, Atlanta
2. Detroit 41-15. The Pistons are probably as close to the Celtics as they have been in months. After two bad losses post all-star break, Detroit rebounded by destroying Milwaukee and Phoenix by a combined 57 points. Two more huge road games on tap this week as they continue their western trip. If they keep up their impressive form, they could be the new top dog in the league.
Opponents this week: @Denver, @Utah, @LA Clippers
3. LA Lakers 39-17. There was no more impressive victory than the Lakers win over the Suns on Wednesday. In winning one of the greatest regular season games in years, the Lakers served notice that they are quite possibly the team to beat in the West. If Kobe can play this good with a hurt finger and Bynum comes back, the road to the finals could go through LA.
Opponents this week: Portland, Miami, @Portland, Dallas
4. Utah 36-20. The Jazz lost an unexpected game to the Clippers on Friday night, but their consistency keeps them in the top 5 for another week. Its amazing how sometimes the smallest moves can make the biggest differences, as seems to be the case with the Jazz acquiring Kyle Korver.
Opponents this week: @Minnesota, Detroit, @New Orleans, @Memphis
5. San Antonio 37-17. Young Swole warned people about writing off the NBA Champs too early, and now they've won 5 straight and appear to be finding their groove. And if Manu Ginobili keeps playing this well, he may have to factor in MVP Consideration.
Opponents this week: Atlanta, Dallas, @Milwaukee, @New Jersey
6. New Orleans 37-17. The road is getting much more difficult for the Hornets. They lost back to back to division rivals Houston and San Antonio and could possibly be in 4th place in their own division after another brutal week of opponents. This is a good test to see if the young Hornets have the mental fortitude necessary to win big games.
Opponents this week: Washington, Phoenix, Utah
7. Phoenix 38-18. Its funny that people are already saying the Shaq trade is a disaster after yesterday's debacle against the Pistons. Educated people knew that of all the trades, the Suns would take the longest time to adjust to their new player. It didn't help they played the 3 top ranked teams in the league immediately after Shaq started playing either. Give this team a few more weeks to adjust before judging the trade.
Opponents this week: @ Memphis, @New Orleans, Philadelphia
8. Houston 36-20. The Rock show has a definite chance to have a 16 game winning streak before heading to Dallas next Thursday. Bobby Jackson is going to be a great addition to this team because he can provide a third offensive option behind Yao and T-Mac. Also, Carl Landry may just fuck around and win rookie of the year if he keeps playing this good.
Opponents this week: Washington, Memphis, Denver
9. Dallas 37-19. Dallas won 2 out of 3 games this week and is in 9th place in the standings showing just how tough the West is. They have three super tough road games coming up which will give us a good measurement of how the Mavs will look with Jason Kidd running the team.
Opponents this week: Chicago, @San Antonio, Sacramento, @LA Lakers
10. Orlando 36-22. The Magic have come out fast since the all star break winning 3 of 4 to solidify their hold on the 3-seed in the East. However, their lack of acquiring a steady point guard to run the team may be their undoing in the playoffs. If I was the Magic I'd look long and hard at acquiring Sam Cassell for the stretch run, his leadership would be perfect for such a young team.
Opponents this week: @New Jersey, @Philadelphia, NY Knicks
11. Golden State 33-22. If the Warriors want to make the playoffs in the brutal west, they cannot afford to lose games such as they did Friday at home to the Hawks. They had little inside presence before, and now without Andris Biedrens for 2 weeks, they will have none. Its a good thing the schedule sets up really well for them the next two weeks, none of the teams they will play have a good low post presence that can hurt them.
Opponents this week: Seattle, Philadelphia, Portland
12. Denver 33-22. If any team seems like it could fall off the pace in the west playoff race, it seems like the Nouglats would be the logical choice. They added no one significant at the trade deadline, just lost 2 games in a row to bad eastern conference teams, and face a schedule even uglier than a naked Rick Majerus over the next two weeks.
Opponents this week: Detroit, @Seattle, LA Clippers, Houston
13. Cleveland 32-24. You know your supporting cast is pathetic when adding bums from Seattle like Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West plus epic bitch Ben Wallace is considered a vast upgrade over what you had before. While these guys are nothing special, the greatness of Lebron James may be enough to make them contenders in the east.
Opponents this week: @Milwaukee, @Boston, Minnesota, Chicago
14. Toronto 30-24. If any team in the east is going to make a strong push in the east it has to be the Raptors. They have the talent and one of the most laughable schedules in league history coming up. This team may still end up winning 50 games this year.
Opponents this week: @Indiana, Minnesota, Indiana, @Charlotte
15. Portland 29-27. The Blazers are pretty much in spoiler role the rest of the year, but their young guys should still treat this as a playoff push so they will be ready for next year when Greg Oden and his fearsome mohawk joins the squad.
Opponents this week: @LA Lakers, @LA Clippers, LA Lakers, @Golden State
16. Washington 26-29. The Wizards have played like garbage lately, but with the teams in the east below them being so bad, they are still 6th in the conference. They are going to need Agent Zero and the Holy Caron back real soon though to hold onto that spot though.
Opponents this week: @New Orleans, @Houston, @Chicago, New Orleans
Young Swole's Baller of the Week
Yeah we could probably give the award to Lebron James every week, but seriously, look at the numbers he put up last week:
-26 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists against Houston
-31 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals against Indiana
-33 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists against Washington
-25 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals against Memphis
Lebron is so good these days he's making Damon Jones look good, which is almost as hard to do as climbing Mount Everest in one of Borat's 1 piece swimsuit things.
Young Swole's Jackass of the Week
To all the GM's who were either too afraid or too stupid to do something to help there teams at the trading deadline, such as Chris Wallace not trading Mike Miller and Kyle Lowry, Denver not getting either Ron Artest or Andre Miller, or Otis Smith in Orlando not upgrading at point guard over sorry ass Jameer Nelson.
5 Games to Watch in order of significance
1. Utah at New Orleans, Friday. Two excellent teams, with the two best young point guards in the league face off in a crucial western conference battle for playoff seeding
Young Swole Prediction: Deron wins the PG battle this time 116-111
2. Dallas at LA Lakers, Sunday. New-look teams battle on Sunday afternoon. Do the Mavs have enough to beat the premier western conference teams after their big trade. This will be a good barometer to find out that question.
Young Swole Prediction: The Lake Show keeps rolling along, 113-97
3. Cleveland @ Boston, Wednesday. The Cavs knew they had to make a move to try and get close to the Celtics and Boston in the east. This is their first chance to face one of the EC's premier squad with their new players.
Young Swole Prediction: Even Lebron can't win this one, Celtics 94-87
4. Phoenix @ New Orleans, Wednesday. Another tough game for the new look Suns. Will they start to adjust to Shaq this quickly and be able to win a huge road game, or will the frisky Hornets stay in the hunt for the top overall seed in the west?
Young Swole Prediction: CP3 eats Nash alive again, Hornets win 122-111
5. Denver @ Houston, Sunday. By next Sunday, this may be a must-win game for Denver if they want to stay alive in the western conference playoff chase. Its going to be tough facing a Houston team that is playing its best since Yao and TMac became teammates.
Young Swole Prediction: Rockets keep the momentum going, 107-97