We are almost at 20 games in for every team but the NBA Landscape looks quite different from what the consensus predicted starting off. Well, outside of the Warriors, who just continue to find ways to win. Teams that had great success last year are struggling and we have other teams who look ten times better than last year. This regular season has had a crazy start so let’s take a quick peek.
Houston Rockets –⬇️
The Rockets started off very slowly and had people thinking that this team had the makings of the 41 wins team that limped to the playoffs in 2015-2016. Then Houston started to put things together and was recently on a 5 game winning streak. Then they lost three straight and Harden had incredible games in each. What is wrong with this picture?
Well… the Rockets have a hard time this season making shots. The bench production has been very frightening. The last 4 games:
vs DET – 16 pts on 35% shooting (Win)
@ DET – 13 pts on 30% shooting (Loss)
@ CLE – 16 pts on 54% shooting (Loss)
@ WIZ – 9 pts on 27% shooting (Loss)
Rockets are plagued with injuries and the defense has regressed a bit. Things will get better once Chris Paul is back on the court but the Rockets now has the challenge of improving their bench. Is it time to panic, yes. Rockets need to feel desperate and regain that rhythm that they once had and got on a winning streak.
LA Clippers –⬆️
The Los Angeles Clippers have been quite the surprise of this season. They have a balanced roster and Doc Rivers has been getting the most out of this group. The Clippers have 5 players averaging double figures in scoring including rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (10.7 PPG). Their best player is Tobias Harris but Montrezl Harrell has made every opportunity with his high motor. Off the bench, Harrell is averaging 15.8 PPG and 7.4 RPG. Just look at how the way Lou Williams talk about him.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The team is 3rd PPG, 10th in rebounds and it might be time to buy some stock of the Clippers being good this year. Can they keep it up or do they fall short due to injuries like normal, time will tell.
Milwaukee Bucks –⬆️
The Bucks got a new coach in Mike Budenholzer and they look like a completely different team than last year. Currently 2nd in East, Bucks are legitimate threat to disrupt Celtics’ plan of making it to the finals. Khris Middleton is having another good year of shooting with 41% from the 3 but he looks like he can be an all star this year. Eric Bledsoe looks more like the Clippers version of himself when he was dangerous to deal with. And Giannis Antetokoumpo, currently averaging 26.8 PPG and 13 RPG, is looking like the MVP of the NBA so far. Seriously, look how easy it is for the Greek Freak:https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The Bucks want to have more than just a 1st round exit in the playoffs. The hype is real with this team.
Boston Celtics –⬇️
After having such a strong year without key players during the playoffs, the Celtics seemed destined to run all over the Eastern Conference. That was before the Raptors made the trade to get Kawhi Leonard. And that was also before the 76ers made the trade to get Jimmy Butler. I would like to mention that was before they decided to jump out the gate with at a pedestrian pace. Celtics don’t have the same problem as the Rockets but their problem is a unique one. What if you were told that Celtics have too much talent and not enough minutes to spread it out? Well what would support this…
1.) Gordon Hayward is having a difficult time getting acclimated to this group after a gruesome injury. His shooting numbers are low with 10 PPG and shooting 40% from the field with 29% from the 3. With Hayward coming off the bench, it is not helping the Celtics as much as they thought it would.
2.) Chemistry is not the same as it once was. I think Kyrie said it best that they need a veteran presence to help them.
3.) The Terry Rozier dilemma. Kyrie Irving has made a commitment to sign back with the Celtics. The Celtics paid Marcus Smart this offseason. Where does that leave Rozier? Rozier has proved that he can make an impact when given the opportunity. Celtics should think about trading him and getting something in return or they can lose him for nothing by the offseason.
While the stock is high on Clippers and the Bucks, Rockets and Celtics should not be counted out. They deserve time to figure it out but if they don’t this will be a very disappointing year from both teams.