LOS ANGELES — No NBA star has spent this season in the “put up or shut up” crosshairs more than Chris Paul. Among fans and media, the overriding narrative has been that of an hourglass quickly losing sand when it comes to accolades butting up against a limited playoff resume. It seemingly no longer matters that Paul is certainly still among the best guards — “point” or otherwise — in the NBA. It no longer matters if the second half of
It’s been a brutal season for the Milwaukee Bucks. As of this writing, they’re sitting on 14 wins and 63 losses, a league-worst clip despite the Sixers’ recent 26-game losing streak. But unlike Philadelphia, which began this season with a nakedly obvious quest to bottom out, Milwaukee actually chased the playoffs. They (rather questionably) signed O.J. Mayo and Zaza Pachulia and traded for Wisconsin native Caron Butler, who is the only player in NBA history ever excited about getting shipped to
It’s been a while since the Western Conference wasn’t jam-packed with high-end teams, and this season is no exception. If anything, it’s been even more absurdly competitive. Five teams will almost certainly finish with 50 wins, and at least one team with a win total in the mid-40s is guaranteed to miss the playoffs. We know this because as of this writing, the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies own the 7-9 seeds with identical 43-30 records. Last I checked,
In the eyes of many, the unbridled mess that is the New York Knicks just received the most drastic makeover this side of Ally Sheedy in “The Breakfast Club” upon hiring Phil Jackson as team president and Zen Master Extraordinaire. Hopes are high in the Big Apple, but plenty of question marks linger, even for a man with 11 rings. It remains to be seen whether Jackson’s arrival provides enough confidence and stability to convince Carmelo Anthony to re-up. (A cynic,
Once and forever, the rich get richer, whether you’re talking the United States wealth gap or the disparity between NBA conferences. The March 1 deadline for players to be bought out and remain playoff-eligible for a new squad has passed. Per usual, the superior conference emerged even stronger. To wit, the Chicago Bulls just added Jimmer Fredette, released by the Sacramento Kings after failing to justify his lottery pick status.
Maybe, just maybe. I hesitate to say it out loud, really, for fear it might all fall apart. But here goes: Could there actually be a third team of relevance in the Eastern Conference? The Brooklyn Nets aren’t yet over .500, even following Sunday’s emotional 85-79 win in Boston over the Celtics and a near-perfect 2014 in which they’ve won 10 of 11 games. Given the state of the East, that type of success makes up ground in a hurry, and now the Nets
Where is the love? Why do so many pundits and taking heads consider these guys to be a flash in the pan? As Martin Luther King Day arrives, the Portland Trail Blazers have the second-best record (31-9) in a brutal Western Conference, along with the third-best overall record in the NBA. They have twice beaten San Antonio and Oklahoma City and come up victorious against Indiana, Miami, the Clippers and Golden State. Yet all of those teams continually garner more confidence from
At long last, the NBA playoff matchups are set in stone, and as always, the Western Conference figures to hit the ground running with the better entertainment. All four West first-round matches should provide excellent entertainment, and it would be especially surprising if the 4-5 matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies proved an exception. With that series kicking off Saturday night at Staples Center in LA, here are five issues to be mindful of once the ball is jumped.