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Around the NBA: Mid-Season Check Up

 

Enjoy all the NBA action today including Celtics – Magic tonight, but make sure you take time to remember the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s amazing to think that he would have turned 82 on Saturday, but it’s also terrifying to imagine what could have been if he didn’t use the time he had in the manner that he did.

-If The Season Ended Today… It won’t, but if it did, this it what the 1st round of the playoffs would look like.

Eastern Conference:

1. Celtics vs. 8. 76ers

4. Magic vs. 5. Hawks

3. Bulls vs. 6. Knicks

2. Heat vs. 7. Pacers

Western Conference:

1. Spurs vs. 8. Trail Blazers

4.  Jazz vs. 5. Mavericks

3. Thunder vs. 6. Hornets

2. Lakers vs. 7. Nuggets

The Carmelo Anthony deal, if it eventually goes through, will undoubtedly affect both the bottom of the West and the bottom of the East.  Philly only has a half game lead over the Bobcats and a full game lead over the Bucks.  Doug Collins is getting a lot out of his young team, but will they be able to keep those teams off them down the stretch?

Meanwhile Memphis and Phoenix have to be as interested in the Carmelo trade as much as the Nets and Pistons at this point.  It would certainly open the door for one of those teams, perhaps both, as the banged up Blazers are clinging to the last spot right now.

-Popularity Contest: The Celtics may have the best record in the Eastern Conference, but as of the final check of the fan votes for next month’s All-Star game they have no starters.  Both Kevin Garnett (who could return to the lineup tonight) and Rajon Rondo were in line to start but were passed by Amare Stoudemire and Derrick Rose, respectively.  The starters will be announced in a couple weeks and no further updates will be given out.

Current starters in the East; Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard.  Interestingly the Celtics take up the next 5 spots as Rondo and Ray Allen are 3-4 for guards, KG and Paul Pierce are 3-4 for forwards, and Shaquille O’Neal is 2nd at center.

(West starters as of now; Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and yes Yao Ming.)

­-Midway Stat Leaders:

Scoring: Kevin Durant, Thunder, 28.5

Rebounding: Kevin Love, T-Wolves, 15.7

Assists: Rajon Rondo, Celtics, 13.4

Steals: Chris Paul, Hornets, 2.73

Blocks: Andrew Bogut, 2.87

-Magic Men? Since Orlando acquired Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu the team has gone 10-4 overall and that includes a 0-2 start together.  Richardson and Turkoglu have been in the starting lineup for all 14 games while Arenas has come off the bench.  Here’s what they have done.

Arenas: 22.1 minutes, 9.4 points, 4.2 assists

Richardson: 34.4 minutes, 15.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 42.5% 3pt

Turkoglu: 34.5 minutes, 11.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists

The numbers don’t tell the whole story.  The team is playing well, better than they did with Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis at the start of the year.  Dwight Howard has also been a monster, averaging 24.3 ppg and 14.4 rpg this month.  I still don’t think they are a title team but they are closer to that since the deal.

-Karma is a…. Well according to LeBron James who probably had a huge smile on his face while his old Cavs were getting embarrassed by the Lakers 112-57 last week.  Cleveland has lost 13 in a row and 23 of 24.  Yikes.  I think we all knew it was going to be bad, but this bad?  Wow.  Can they start working out Perry Jones, Kyrie Erving, Terrence Jones…?

Next week I will unveil my 2010-2011 NBA All-Star rosters, 1-12.  Sneak peak: I got Blake Griffin and Kevin Love on my squad.  I understand they have a combined 24 wins this season, but they also have 68 double-doubles in 80 games.  Their seasons should be represented in the All-Star game.  We know Yao won’t be there, and Melo could be wearing an East jersey.

Check back later here on CelticsHub for a full preview of tonight’s Celtics vs. Magic game on MLK Day.

Rich Keefe is an anchor and fill-in host on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and frequent collaborator on the CelticsHub.com podcast.  He also writes for The Sports Brief.

  • DRJ1

    I believe that defense is prohibited for most of the ASG, which kinda explains why the Celtics may be shut out in the beauty contest portion of the voting.

    Re Magic: You have to believe they will not stay where they are, but will continue to improve through the season. That team has a boatload of talent on paper, so when they get it together on the court, they figure to be, imo, the Celtics' toughest out of the playoffs. This will be even more certain if, as expected, they acquire a serviceable backup big.

    And In the West, I'm not even sure the Lakers will make it to the Finals. After winning 2, looks like the fire may be out on that team… plus Kobe is past his peak. Obviously SA is the other major contender there, and I just really like Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder. Hope they go far.

    But I don't see any team out there that the Celtics can't beat, when healthy.

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