With the week long All-Star Break, teams now have a chance to rest up for the most important stretch of the season.
This year's NBA season has been one full of drama, brilliance, and surprises! And although the All-Star Break will give teams a chance to reconvene and recharge for the final stretch of the regular season, the party is just getting started.
The majority of teams have played nearly 60 games out of the 82 scheduled for the regular season. This week's slate of games included a 48 point win by the Boston Celtics against a new-look Philadelphia squad (who will have James Harden available after the All-Star Break). A 50-point performance by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and one of the most impressive comebacks in Brooklyn Nets history, as the team erased a 28 point deficit on the road. The standings in both the Western and Eastern Conferences are as tight as they've ever been.
Top Game of the Week: Lakers 106, Jazz 101 (Wednesday, Feb. 16)
Let's face it, no one expected the Los Angeles Lakers to be struggling as much as they have been despite the many changes the team has seen. Not only are there new faces dawning the purple and gold, like Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, but their famed home court once known as the STAPLES Center, was given a new name-- "Crypto.com Arena." However, there is one thing on the team that hasn't changed: the greatness of LeBron James.
This past Wednesday was a very eventful one in L.A. After the Rams' championships parade after their Super Bowl victory, the attention of Hollywood was centered at Crypto.com Arena, as the Lakers took on the Utah Jazz. Coming into the game, L.A. had a record of 26-31, having lost three straight games, while Utah arrived in Southern California on a six-game winning streak. Most pundits had the Jazz taking the road win.
At one point, the visitors were up by 12 with about less than seven minutes to go in the 4th quarter. But that was when LeBron James took over, scoring 15 of his 33 overall points in the period. James scored 15 of L.A.'s 35 total points in the quarter and propelled them to a 106-101 win.
Even with the win though, the Lakers have some questions to answer. After suffering a gruesome ankle injury in the first half, when Anthony Davis returns? Can the team still tread above water and at least make the play-in tournament?
The Lakers have had a very underwhelming season. But this win against Utah is certainly a slice of momentum they can take into the All-Star Break and feel satisfied about for the short-term.
Most Impressive Team of the Week: Chicago Bulls (38-21)
The last time the Chicago Bulls were in a playoff game was in Game 6 of the 2017 Eastern Conference First Round when the Boston Celtics eliminated them on their home court. It looks like that will change this year. After acquiring DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and hiring Billy Donovan as head coach, the Windy City is back in the NBA playoff picture. They are currently on a five-game winning streak and have won 23 games at the United Center, the most home wins of any team. That is the second most number of home wins by a team in the league so far.
DeMar DeRozan has been in the conversation for this year's league MVP almost the entire year, and rightfully so. In his first season with Chicago, he averages 28 points, five rebounds, and five assists while shooting 52% from the field.
The Bulls will have a challenging schedule coming out of the All-Star Break with matchups against the Hawks, Grizzlies, Heat, and 76ers.
Most Disappointing Team of the Week: New York Knicks (25-34)
When you think of Madison Square Garden, you think of an awe-inspiring memorial - a staple that defines Midtown Manhattan.
With that being said, there was not one New York Knicks fan that wanted to even be within a block of MSG after the team's loss this past Wednesday to the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, that's right, they lost to the Nets-- a Nets team without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and one of their newest members from the Harden trade, Ben Simmons.
The Knicks were up by as many as 28 points in front of a raucous crowd. It seemed like they were going to avenge the loss they suffered to an inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder team just two nights before, where they fell in overtime.
New York was in command with a 15 point lead with just under nine minutes to go in the game, but were then outscored 31-11 in a Brooklyn onslaught. Cameron Thomas, a Nets rookie from LSU, had his best game of the year, scoring 21 points. While veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 18 points and hauled in 10 boards.
If you ask Thomas, this will be a game he'll never forget-- putting on a show at the world's most famous arena; it doesn't get any better than that.
The Knicks have now lost three straight games and are now in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They have been a major disappointment all season after making the playoffs last year as the 4th seed (they lost in the opening round to the Atlanta Hawks).
Upcoming Marquee Game: Brooklyn Nets @ Milwaukee Bucks
The first "Saturday Primetime" game on ABC after the All-Star Break will feature two of the NBA's most exciting teams as the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks welcome in the Brooklyn Nets. This will be the third time the two teams face off against each other (with the last two games going to the Bucks). These squads also matched up in the semifinals of the playoffs last season, with the series going the distance. Milwaukee prevailed in Brooklyn's seventh and deciding game, halting the Nets' championship aspirations.
It will be very interesting to see how the Net's editions of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond perform against one of the most dominant players and best defensive teams in the entire association.
* Match Info:
When- Saturday, Feb. 26th @ 8:30 P.M.
Where- Fiserv Forum (Milwaukee, WI)