Despite a shortened NBA season, the action has not disappointed.
The Eastern Conference appears to be a two-horse race between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls own the second best record in the East as of Sunday, led by point guard sensation Derrick Rose, whose ability to create scoring opportunities is second to none.
However, Rose is ailing with a back injury, which means teammates Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah will need to elevate their game to hold off the Heat.
Miami is led by “The Big Three,” superstars who have been toying with opponents all season. They are elite in most aspects of the game. If they can stay healthy and put it all together in the playoffs, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with.
“The best team in the NBA East has to be the Chicago Bulls, with Derek Rose getting healthy for the playoffs and the number one defense,” said Salisbury University Senior Tim Goehner.
In the Western Conference, three teams appear to be emerging. The San Antonio Spurs are leading the conference right now, and point guard Tony Parker is playing phenomenally, giving teams nightmares. The biggest concern for the Spurs is whether their old age will allow them to remain durable and keep pace ahead of younger teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder has two of the youngest stars in the game in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant is nearly averaging a double-double per game while Westbrook runs the offense from the point. This duo consistently enables the Thunder to put up 100 points night in and night out, a mark which is hard for most teams to keep up with.
The other big dog in the West is the Clippers. The acquisition of point guard Chris Paul from New Orleans has been monumental for the franchise. Paul quarterbacks the offense, allowing big men Blake Griffen and DeAndre Jordan to excel above the rim. The Clippers were nicknamed “Lob City” because they are known for running the alley-oop. The tandem of Paul and Griffen causes valuable mismatches for most of the league.
“Oklahoma City is easily the best team in the west,” said Sophomore Brett Zimmerman. “They have so much promise led by the best scorer in the game in (Kevin) Durant and one of the best guards in the league with (Russell) Westbrook. They have all of the pieces to win a championship.”
The big story as of late though has been the rise of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin. Lin, who has seen minimal playing time this season, came off the bench last week and has been torching teams non-stop. Since Lin entered the starting lineup, the Knicks went on a seven-game win streak and are reverting back to their winning ways. The big question that remains is: What will happen when Carmelo Anthony returns, and can the two co-exist?
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