Controversy drives content. That’s why, despite a 22-32 record that has them 12th in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks are the talk of the National Basketball Association. Every week, they’re finding a new way to dominate headlines with bizarre stories of players going AWOL, GMs performing call outs over Twitter, and their most recent gem, kicking a franchise legend out of MSG and charging him with assault.
While New York’s historic level of dysfunction is hilarious (and sure to give James Dolan inspiration for new blues songs), it’s maddening that all the recent stories in the NBA seem to revolve around player beefs, or in LeBron’s case, player-vs-former-player beefs.
There are a lot of good things happening in the association that feel like they’re getting swept under the rug. A quick rundown:
Figuring it was worthwhile to set some odds on more positive topics, here’s a collection of props for around the NBA.
I know, I’m going out on a real limb by crowing the Cavaliers first in the conference. But Boston should be more worried about holding off the teams behind them than catching the one in front. The Celtics have been incredible over the last month, led by the game’s most clutch scorer, Isaiah Thomas. But ten of their next 13 games come on the road, meaning their grasp on the two-seed could slip pretty quickly.
Should Boston falter, their budding rivalry with the Wizards and Raptors could take on a new intensity, with both teams just a few games back. Washington and Toronto are in very different places though; Washington is surging, while the Raps are on an awful slide that has them eyeing a deadline deal for Serge Ibaka.
And don’t forget about the Atlanta Hawks (even though it’s very easy to). Despite dealing Kyle Korver earlier in the year, the Hawks are still holding down their usual spot in the middle of the East.
Westbrook notched his 26th triple double of the season Thursday in a win over the Cavs, but slowly his assist numbers are dropping. Perhaps it’s to be expected; with Enes Kanter sidelined after going three rounds with a chair, Westbrook has even fewer options to get the ball to. It will be a tight finish, but the Thunder star may get an opportunity for rest down the stretch, as the team is eight games clear in the race for a playoff spot.
With 30 games remaining, the Warriors are 954 dimes shy of catching the 1984-85 Lakers (2575). That means, as a team, they’ll need to average 31.8 assists per game down the stretch, an almost selfish amount of unselfishness. But this star-studded lineup is capable of it.
The T-Wolves need another body at guard with Zach Lavine done for the year. Stephenson showed he could be a productive player in Indiana; since then, he’s been chased out of every locker room he’s stepped in. Tom Thibodeau seems confident he can get the most out of Stephenson, and it’s not like there are better options out there. Still, it wouldn’t really be a shock if Stephenson blows his last chance. Blowing it is kind of his thing.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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