Back and Forth: The NBA at the Break
Bradford Doolittle and Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus take a comprehensive look at the NBA and chime in on the major storylines that have emerged in the past few months.
How about the East? Who gets the No. 2 seed and home-court advantage in a big semifinal, and which team is doomed to facing the Cavaliers in the second round?
BD: It's gonna be a heck of a race. Right now, my system has it going Orlando-Boston-Atlanta, but it's really close. That's based on the Celtics going 28-4 to finish the season, but Boston is break-even over its last 28 games and it sounds like Danny Ainge wants to shake things up, even though nothing material has come to pass. The Hawks have the easiest set of opponents down the stretch, but also the most road games. Despite what my numbers say, I'm gong to venture it'll be Orlando-Atlanta-Boston, which means the Celtics are doomed to a second-round matchup against Cleveland.
It is pretty clear at this point that the Hawks are not going away. Orlando won the season series already, but that will not matter much if Atlanta somehow passes the team. Do not think that is an impossibility. Atlanta is 1.5 games out at the break and can get on another hot streak. This competition is a good thing. It should keep the Magic sharp heading into the playoffs and give them something to fight for in March and April. Playoff positioning is important and winning the division is an important first step to winning a title. The last time a non-division winner won the NBA title was the 2006 Spurs and seven of the last 10 NBA champions won their division. Hopefully this race will keep the Magic focused and playing well into the postseason. Orlando travels to Atlanta for the final matchup on March 24.
"It looked good as soon as it left my hand. I looked at coach [Stan Van Gundy], and he shook his head at first,'' Howard said. "Then when it went in, he looked a little happy. I might have to start taking more of them.''
LeBron (25 pts, 6 asts, 4 stls) only confirmed what we always suspected: If he entered the dunk contest and just did something (relatively) basic, he’d still have the crowd and the judges eating out of his hand. LBJ’s two reverse dunks in the third quarter — dunks that weren’t that dope save for his swinging on the rim — got some of the biggest reactions of the night and had the announcers drooling. Dunk of the night was D-Wade’s lob to Dwight Howard (17 pts, 3 blks) that Superman caught chin-level to the rim.
More after the jump.
NBA All-Star Dwight Howard, father see God's plan played out in his life
UPDATE: Howard's father talks about some of life's lessons his son has dealt with.
NBA All-Star Dwight Howard's high school teammates are like his family
UPDATE 2: Tania Ganguli writes an excellent and lengthy piece about Howard's high school teammates, in which they provide their thoughts about the man that's now known as "Superman."
As Howard's lifestyle transformed into that of a superstar, those friends that played on Howard's high school team are guys he can trust. In his life now, there are fewer people he can trust.
Even as his parents watch one of the NBA's biggest stars change, those high school teammates see the same Dwight Howard who used to make them all listen to Barney the purple dinosaur on bus rides to games.
They are still family.