SH Blog: What’s wrong with the Pacers and Heat? Shaq investigated on assault; Mark Jackson in trouble in Golden State

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Paul georgeAs the NBA regular season finally hits the home stretch before what promises to be a highly entertaining two months of playoff basketball, a few of the leagues elite teams find themselves riding the struggle bus.

The two-time defending champion Miami Heat needed a strong finish against Portland on Monday just to avoid a sub .500 March. Bad losses to Boston, New Orleans and Denver were all contributors to this stretch of underwhelming play. 

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SH Blog: Warriors are scary good with a full squad, Anderson could miss remainder of season

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Stephen CurryIf you follow the Golden State Warriors at all, the words “hashtag full squad” should sound familiar to you by now. If it doesn’t, click here to find out how it all began, and here for the full explanation on how it now has a life of its own.

To make a long story short, David Lee believed the Warriors were a darned good team when everyone in the starting lineup is healthy and playing together. He brought it up some weeks ago because the team was performing questionably at best through the first 20 games or so – particularly when Andre Iguodala was out of the lineup due to an injured hamstring – and some began to wonder whether all the hype about Golden State prior to the beginning of the season was justified.

As it turns out, Lee was more than right about his “full squad”. With the starting five intact, the Warriors’ record is an impressive 20-4. They are, in fact, one of the most dominating starting fives in the entire league on both ends of the court, according to Warriors.com:

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Gambling on the Western Conference: A Free-For-All

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The Western Conference is absolutely nothing like the Eastern Conference when it comes to championship odds.

We have what I call a two-horse race in the East versus what I am going to call the six-plus team race in the West.

In the 15 previous seasons, only four teams (the Lakers, seven times; the Spurs, five times, the Mavericks, two times; the Thunder, once)  have won the Western Conference, which is a similar concept to what the Eastern Conference has gone through recently, as I outlined in this column laying out the loooong odds on anyone not from Miami or Indiana winning the East.

SH Blog: Kidd’s simplified schemes paying off for Nets; are the Cavs shopping Waiters?

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Damian LillardDamian Lillard is very good.

Okay, maybe we knew that already.

But watching him carry the Blazers to an incredible win against a Cavs team that was very much on top of their game tonight, and then cap it with a game-winning three… that was something else.

LaMarcus Aldridge is also very good, and so are Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum. But it’s Lillard who makes the whole thing work.

Sixth Man Rankings: Reggie Jackson takes the lead

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question-markThe Sixth Man Award is a complicated one. Historically, the winner has been a super scorer who provides a needed offensive boost to a winning team.

But this season might be different. No top team has a true standout scorer off the bench who fits the mold of winners from seasons past.

The one exception could be Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Pelicans.

Sure, New Orleans is only 9-9 and has been wildly inconsistent this season. Still, since Anderson’s return to the team, the Pelicans have gone 5-2 and looked very strong.

And with Anthony Davis out indefinitely, Anderson’s role will only increase. He is averaging 28.3 points in three December games – two wins – and has carried the Pelicans since Davis went down. He has started the past two games in place of Davis but likely will fall back to a bench role when The Brow returns.

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