DESPITE not having the services of 2010-2011 NBA regular season MVP Derrick Rose, the league-leading Chicago Bulls have been on an absolute rampage. They recorded a buzzer-beating overtime victory against the Toronto Raptors thanks to their other All-Star Luo Deng to stretch their winning streak to four games for an overall 40-10 record. Additonally, with that they also became the first team to secure play-off berth.
Notably, of late, the entire leading class for the play-offs has been in impressive form and only the Boston Celtics as at press time closed the week with a losing streak.
The Miami Heat finished the week with a record of 35-11 also, on the heels of a four-game unbeaten stretch. And as it stands, pundits and enthusiasts alike are already making their predictions for the Eastern Conference Finals, which is expected to be a repeat of last year's -- the Bulls against the Heat. That being said, we are at the back-end of this lock-out affected regular season; so why not start some play-off buzz.
Mike Woodson and the New York Knicks lost their first game since he took over during last week, but brought the week to a close with a convincing whipping of the significantly-deflated Detroit Pistons to tighten their grasp on the final play-off spot. Their record as at Saturday stood at 24-25. The regular season is not over, however, and based on that fact the Milwaukee Bucks will still consider themselves a candidate with a 22-26 record.
Business preferred to loyalty
MANY may disagree, but in TEENage's opinion, there are a few stories in the past two weeks that can be compared to the Los Angeles Lakers trading Derek Fisher. Lamar Odom was shipped out at the beginning of the season and at a point in time, Pau Gasol was also rumoured to be on the chopping block of head coach Mike Brown and company. Is Mike looking to start his own revolution and do what he failed to with the Cleveland Cavaliers?
Politics aside, the Lakers closed the week with a record of 30-18 thanks to a three-game winning streak and look poised to maintain that position throughout the remainder of the regular season.
Their city rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, are working avidly to stem the bleeding of a 4-6 record from their last 10 and made strides with a victory to end the week for an overall 27-21 record.
The conference leaders, the Oklahoma City Thunder, welcomed Laker outcast Fisher (after he bought out his contract from the Houston Rockets) and have lifted their record to 36-12 as at Saturday. Fisher thus far has received favourable minutes off the bench.
Another key talking point with the regular season coming to an end is the close contest for post-season qualification. Between the Clippers in fourth and the Phoenix Suns in 10th, all the teams believe that they have a chance of making the play-offs.
The Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and the Rockets are the teams that round up the final play-off spots. However, the Denver Nuggets hold the same 26-23 record of the Rockets and the rapidly-improving Suns with a 7-3 record of their last 10 and a 25-24 overall could still tip the scale to remove any team that fails to pick up the important wins along the final furlong.