This is the reality of the Eastern Conference — you don’t want to be the seven or eight seed. You don’t want to face the Bulls or the Heat in the first round. That promises a short stay in the postseason.
The Knicks are currently the eight seed. The easiest route out of that hole is to leapfrog the Celtics and pass the 76ers, who lead the Atlantic Division but are only four games ahead of the Knicks. (Don’t look behind you Knicks, but the Bucks are just half a game back as the nine seed and have won 6 games in a row.)
Win the Atlantic and you are the automatic fourth seed (at worst) and avoid real trouble until the second round.
So the Knicks game against the 76ers Wednesday night is huge for them — win and they are three games back, something that can be made up in the 19 games that remain (although the 76ers have the easier schedule the rest of the way). Lose, fall five games back, and that dream is pretty much shot.
This four game winning streak of the Knicks — all by 14 points or more — has inspired dreams in New York because of the way they are doing it: sharing the ball, playing hard on defense, executing. All the things they didn’t do under Mike D’Antoni. Carmelo Anthony all but admitted he is trying harder under Woodson. We could discuss what that says about ‘Melo as a leader but fact of the matter is it doesn’t matter — right now it is working on the court. These Knicks are actually fun to watch. And seem to be having fun again.
Wednesday night is the measuring stick for the Woodson era — the 76ers blew the Knicks out of the water the last time these two played (March 11, the fifth loss in the Knicks six-game losing streak that led to D’Antoni leaving). It was one of those typically sad Knicks efforts where the team seemed to go through the motions without passion. Things are radically different now.
The Knicks are 0-6 on the second night of a back-to-back when the other team has rest (which is the case Wednesday night). But the Knicks have been breaking all kinds of trends lately.
Break this one and they have a chance of getting out of the 8 seed, getting out of the way of the two best teams in the conference. They get a real chance at advancing out of the first round.
Lose and the Knicks will find themselves in a fight with the Bucks just to make the playoffs and get the joy of the Bulls or Heat in the first round.
It’s a big game for the Knicks hopes Wednesday.
The NBA suspended Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram on Sunday.
It was the opinion of the league office that all three players should be suspended for their role in a fight that took place on Saturday night between the Rockets and the Lakers at Staples Center.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni took exception to Paul’s suspension, saying that he thought it was “not equitable” that Paul had to face suspension.
The NBA determined that Rondo indeed did spit in Paul’s face, or at least in the direction of him, directly preceding Paul’s eye poke on Rondo. That kicked things off into full force, and it devolved from there.
All the suspensions were fairly weak. Ingram got just four games for his initial instigation and giant, loping punch toward Paul. Rondo received three games for spitting on Paul and landing punches. Paul received two games for punching Rondo.
It’s unlikely that anybody was going to be happy with the result of the discipline just because of the bad blood involved. However, the league made comment about the suspension afterward, with the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe taking to television later on Sunday.
VanDeWeghe’s explanations don’t satisfy me, and they certainly wouldn’t if I were a Rockets fan. Guys going chest-to-chest and having tensions rise as one thing. Spitting at somebody is another. It’s a level of actionable disrespect that directly influenced and raised tensions during the incident.
Ingram looked childish for shoving James Harden, but his punch came after Rondo got Paul wound up by spitting on him. It’s hard for me to understand how Rondo didn’t get a matching sentence with Ingram at the very least.
For reference, Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 after he clocked a player on the New York Knicks during a fight as a member of the Denver Nuggets. Given that precedence, something approaching double digits for both Ingram and Rondo seems like it would have been more appropriate.
We all knew the Denver Nuggets were going to be exciting this season, but nobody expected them to come through with this kind of statement result this early.
On Sunday as the Nuggets took on the Golden State Warriors, a tight game in Colorado lead to a drive by Stephen Curry in the closing seconds that could have won the defending champions the game.
Instead, Juancho Hernangómez became a Denver legend.
It was a serious block by Hernangómez on Damian Jones.
Denver beat the Warriors, 100-98, moving the Nuggets to 3-0 on the year and giving Golden State its first loss of the season.
Kyle Lowry was not happy with the Toronto Raptors when the team traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs this offseason for Kawhi Leonard.
Lowry and DeRozan are best friends, and their budding romance has been a sentimental point for fans in Toronto and abroad.
But life goes on, and the Raptors again are one of the teams expected to challenge for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. That hasn’t kept Lowry from doing the same handshake routine he used to do with DeRozan before games this season.
The only difference? DeRozan isn’t there to help dap up Lowry.
For his part, Lowry told NBA TV after Toronto’s game on Saturday that he will continue to do the handshake routine because the DeRozan will always be his best friend.
Even thousands of miles apart you can’t keep these guys from showing love for each other.
With the NBA dissecting video from Saturday night’s game between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers like the Zapruder film, it was only a matter of time before we saw suspensions handed down for Chris Paul, Brandon Ingram, and Rajon Rondo.
On Sunday, the league announced its decision.
After reviewing tape, the NBA determined that Rondo did indeed spit on Paul. Ingram was seen as the initial instigator, and thus was served with a heavier sentence.
The finally tally was:
- Four games for Ingram
- Three games for Rondo
- Two games for Paul
Here’s the relevant details per the NBA’s release.
Ingram has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving Rockets guard James Harden. Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul. Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.
We have been waiting on these suspensions largely to see how the NBA would discipline one of the first actual fights in some time. A maximum of four games seems a little light to me. Carmelo Anthony was suspended for 15 games in 2006 when he clocked Mardy Collins during a fight between the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets.
Rondo only getting three games despite having spit on an opponent is also pretty wild. That’s crazy disrespectful and I would not believe you if you tried to tell me that this bad blood will end here.
Both the Lakers and Rockets will miss some of their most important players as they start duking it out in the tough Western Conference.