The time has come. We have reached the time in which all of our basketball attention is held captive to college basketball and the excitement March Madness brings. Some would go as far as saying that no one watches the NBA during the month of March. It’s a good observation but its times like these that teams start getting hot. Don’t worry, this isn’t another rant about the Miami Heat and their journey to capture the single-season record for consecutive wins, or how the Nuggets have begun a healthy run of their own. It’s a good time to review teams expectations, to see how far some have come, and how others fell short.
1. Chicago Bulls
Despite the absence of their 2010-2011 MVP guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls have managed to work their way into the sixth spot in the East. Sitting only a game behind Atlanta, making the playoffs is the least of Chicago’s worries. Moving forward the Bulls should be more concerned about who they will be playing in the first round of the playoffs. And secondly if Derrick Rose is going to make his grand entrance into to the lineup or not. With or without Rose, if the playoffs started today, the Bulls would have to face the Pacers who have handled themselves very well thus far. Chicago’s chances at competing with Indiana are slim to none; A matchup that would probably end up looking like a bully beat-down in the stalls. But if they are able to beat out the Hawks for the fifth spot, it would place them in an ideal match up with the Nets. Don’t get me wrong, Brooklyn is no slouch but the Bulls should have no problems matching up with them. Aside from the playoffs, the Bulls have overachieved in many ways this season. They have competed well posting winning records in the conference (27-13) as well as at home (19-16) and on the road (18-15). Individual players have stepped up as well beginning with Nate Robinson who has been a key contributor both as a starter and a role player coming off the bench. Robinson has found a way to fit in with the team in a way only he could (Nate Robinson has played for five different teams in seven seasons in the NBA). Without the help of Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer has done well to provide consistency while Luol Deng and Jokim Noah have stepped up to become All-Stars playing well in their own rights. Over all, Chicago has done just fine under coach Tom Thibodeau and the graces of Derrick Rose. Whichever matchup they draw, look for the Bulls to continue their resilience led by Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Jokim Noah and the ever exciting Nate Robinson. #Holdat.
2. Golden State Warriors
The young team that the Warriors put on the floor is one of the most talented clubs in the league. Under first time Head Coach Mark Jackson, they have done well enough to earn a six seed in a very competitive Western Conference at 40-31. Golden State has done well considering the fact that they played upwards of two-thirds of the season without their big man Andrew Bogut (back injury) who recently returned to the floor earlier this month. Stephen Curry’s 54 point outburst versus the Knicks may have been one of the most captivating performances of the regular season but the Warriors fell short and the Knicks won 109 – 105. Much like how the Warriors and everyone else who watches the NBA was wondering how in the world Stephen Curry didn’t make the All-Star team. He clearly put up All-Star numbers averaging 22.4 pts more than 6 ast and 4 rebounds a game. My guess is that the committee won’t pass up on him again. Although he’s been playing great since he’s been in the league, there’s no doubt that he’s clearly one of the leagues newest stars. His supporting cast looks very promising as well. Off guards Klay Thompson and Brandon Rush have done well to become key contributors in Golden State while mentoring young rookies Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. While this may not be the Warriors year for a deep playoff run, their time is coming. The core roster they have managed to put together will continue its development working toward what I think will one day be one of the best in the west. For now, Golden State finds themselves in position to match up with a Denver squad who is blazing hot to say the least. Who knows, the matchup between these two teams would definitely be one hell of a shootout. Believe that.