If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while rewatching the Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, Will Ferrell lip synch battle….
The Hawks are not invincible, but they are legit contenders. There was bound to be a night the Atlanta Hawks’ defensive rotations were a step slow, when the shots just wouldn’t fall, when things would just not go their way for once. That night was Monday in New Orleans. The Pelicans went on a 14-3 run to take the lead midway through the first and were in control the rest of the way, the Hawks 19-game win streak was over.
For some reason this led to people coming out on twitter (and other sites) saying the Hawks aren’t really as good as everyone says. Those people are just wrong. Like Pete Carroll on the one-yard-line wrong. Title contenders are teams that are top 10 in offense and defense, well the Hawks are fifth in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating. They outscore their opponents by an average of 7.3 points per 100 possessions, tied for second best in the NBA (behind the Warriors, tied with the Clippers). The Hawks rolled through the best of the West last month, beating the Trail Blazers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder. If you say they have no stars you really don’t watch enough Al Horford. Plus, they play that selfless, ball-moving game that seemed to work out pretty well for the Spurs last playoffs, as I recall. Can the Hawks beat a peak Bulls or even peak Cavaliers team in a seven-game playoff series? I think they can, it may be tight (and maybe they fall), but I guarantee you it would be a seven-game bloodbath. The Hawks are a legit threat to come out of the East and will be no pushover in the Finals.
We should never forget Anthony Davis is a flat-out stud. Consider this your weekly reminder that Anthony Davis is still very good at basketball. The Pelicans guards were knocking down shots but that team only works when Davis is being one of the best players on the planet. He did just that on Monday, scoring 29 points on 2-of-23 shooting, 13 rebounds, a couple of blocks… and frankly that doesn’t do his performance justice. He plays such a smart game and impacts it in so many ways. This day it was too much for the Hawks.
Ricky Rubio is back and that means highlights with Andrew Wiggins.
Grizzlies help out Pelicans, Thunder. Memphis trailed Phoenix on the road by seven points with less than two minutes to go, when the Grizzlies went off on an 8-0 run to win the game. A win sealed with Marc Gasol’s block of a Markeiff Morris shot as time expired. That was a painful loss for the eight-seed Suns because it comes on a night the Pelicans surprised the Hawks and Oklahoma City picked up a win with Kevin Durant out. The Suns are now just one game up on the Pelicans and three up on the Thunder. This race is going to go down to the wire (both the Suns and Thunder have heavy home schedules). OKC and New Orleans play a home-and-home Wednesday and those games will be huge for teams trying to make the playoffs.
Dion Waiters is no Kevin Durant — but he can do a pretty good impression for a night. Durant missed a couple games with that sprained big toe but returned to action Saturday night against Memphis, then promptly shot 5-of-16. Monday night they decided it still wasn’t right, and he needed more time off, so Waiters got the start. He performed well, scoring 24 on 9-of-15 shooting. This was his best game in a Thunder uniform, he was attacking the rim early on that got him confidence, which meant his jumpshots were falling later. This Waiters, who shows up on random nights, is the guy who could really help the Thunder make the playoffs.