We’re on the verge of April, and that means there are only a few weeks left in the regular season; with roughly 6 or 7 games left for each franchise. Playoff spots are being locked up, and now we just have to wait and see how the standings shake out at the end of the day. Now, to get into the past week, we saw some historic performances and moments, along with some interesting (sometimes laughable) storylines.
1) Devin Booker scores 70 points
Booker, at age 20, is now one of 6 players to score at least 70 points in an NBA game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, and Elgin Baylor. That is an elite class, and Booker is still years away from hitting his full prime. This game, even though it somehow ended in a loss, was a good sign for the Phoenix Suns and their fans, and was a necessary “victory” for their season.
2) Russell Westbrook records highest scoring triple-double of all time
After seeing what he’s doing this year, if someone asked me who I thought would be the person to break the scoring record with a triple-double, Russell Westbrook would be my pick; just slightly edging out Harden. And look what happens, he drops 57 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists, all in a com-from-behind victory over the Magic. Throw in the fact that he hit an outrageous three-pointer to force overtime, this was one of the best all-around offensive displays the NBA has ever seen.
3) Celtics take #1 seed out East
As of right now, the Cavs and Celtics are tied for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics did hold that position for a couple days this week. This is important because it appears as though the Cavs are in a slight decline, and the Celtics have a good shot at securing home-court advantage throughout the first three rounds. The Cavs, on paper, should be able to kick it up another notch come the postseason, and home-court advantage shouldn’t be a huge deal for them, but if they continue to play so poorly defensively, a game 7 in an opposing gym could be a problem.
4) Warriors with 3 consecutive 60+win seasons
While the Warriors were clearly on the upswing while being coached by Mark Jackson, Steve Kerr deserves a ton of credit for the past three Warriors seasons. The crazy part is that I wouldn’t be surprised if they won 60+ games for another three season after this, if not more.
5) Kings pursuing Sam Hinkie to come in above Vlade
I think I almost spat out what I was eating when I saw this headline. The Kings are an abysmal organization, I have made this clear numerous times in my past writing, but if they bring in Sam Hinkie it would be the best decision they could ever make. After trading Cousins, the Kings will be a basement-dwelling team for many years to come (sorry Buddy Hield, I like you and I feel sorry for you, but you can’t lead this team to the postseason), so getting the tank-master himself, Hinkie, would be a great idea. The fans may not accept it, just as the Philadelphia fans didn’t early on, but now seeing how they have accepted “the process” in Philly it could be time for “the process” V 2.0. Vivek Ranadive, if you won’t sell the team, then you have to make this decision. Vlade Divac has no idea what he’s doing, and if you ever want to not be a joke, this is the move.
6) Lance Stephenson returns to Indiana Pacers
“Born Ready” is back in Indiana, where at one point he was a near-All Star. This is a feel good story, Stephenson hasn’t clicked since leaving the Pacers for a huge contract in Charlotte, he’s bounced around on a few minimum deals, and now he’s signing with Indiana for 3 years, 12 million dollars. When I first heard this news, I was shocked to hear how much he signed for, but Larry Bird must think he can return to form in a comfortable situation.
7) Suns play youngest starting 5 in NBA history
Tyler Ulis, 21. Devin Booker, 20. Derrick Jones Jr., 20. Marquese Chriss, 19. Alex Len, 23.
Even though we’re in the midst of March Madness, this is actually an NBA team’s lineup, and not a college lineup. Besides Alex Len, the other four guys could still be suiting up for a college basketball team. Speaking of college teams, only one of the Sweet Sixteen teams had a younger starting 5 than the Suns; the Purdue Boilermakers came in with a 114 day-less average.
8) Joakim Noah suspended for illegal substance
When I first saw this, I instantly thought Noah had spent the weekend smoking pounds of marijuana. I mean, come on, look at the guy, there’s no way anyone could convince me that he has never dabbled in the green, his hair alone screams “I’m 420 friendly!”. Apparently it was a testosterone booster that was found in his system, one of the many PED’s that is banned by the NBA, therefore he received a 20-game suspension. This news makes his signing last offseason even worse, his production has been horrible and now with his suspension it appears as though his time as a rotation player is coming to a close.
9) Jusuf Nurkic scores career-high in first game vs. Denver
“Have a happy summer”, that is what Portland big man Jusuf Nurkic said towards his old team, the Denver Nuggets, in a postgame interview after a dominating 33 points, 16 rebound performance. Nurkic was clearly unhappy in his time in Denver once Jokic beat him out for the starting center spot, but ever since his trade to Portland he has been a man possessed. The Blazers are 13-7 since acquiring him, nothing to call home about, but enough of a winning percentage to place them a game ahead of the aforementioned Nuggets for the eighth, and final Playoff spot in the West. Is this the beginning of a new rivalry out West? Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers, Jokic vs. Nurkic, Serbia vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina.
10) JJ Barea drops Blake Griffin
This was the worst flop I’ve ever seen. For those who don’t know who JJ Barea is, he is a diminutive point guard for the Dallas Mavericks; he is reported at 6 feet, but he’s just barely pushing 5’10”. So for a guy his size to knock down Blake Griffin, 6’8″, is absolutely laughable. Both Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavs, and Rick Carlisle, head coach of the Mavs, ripped Griffin apart for the absurdity of his flop, stating what most of us would think, that there’s no way someone 10 inches shorter than you should be able to take you down. Blake Griffen, you and the Clippers are known to flop, and whine, and bitch, and this latest incident isn’t helping you out.