Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Western Conference is wacky. Which team that is now, this second, playoff-bound is most likely to miss the playoffs?
Steve Aschburner: Utah. Devin Harris instills zero confidence in me right now. I’m not sold on the Jazz at either end of the floor, and I’m especially not sold on their home/road breakdown so far. After just six road games, and a 2-4 mark in them, the Jazz have miles to go – literally – to demonstrate they can be as good away from Salt Lake City as they’ve been (10-3) at home.
Fran Blinebury: The Lakers are slow, old, without a bench, rely too much on the “inspiration” of Metta World Peace and are dangling by a tendon in Kobe Bryant’s right hand. If he goes down, the Purple Palace crumbles.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I take no pleasure in saying it, but the Jazz. Too much youth, too little dependable play at point guard. They will get to the playoffs one day and stay there a long time. In a tight race, though, experience matters, a lot.
Shaun Powell: Would not be surprised if the Jazz were to slip out of contention down the stretch. And that’s not because of anything they’ll do wrong. It’s just the competition is too great, and will stay that way, barring a major injury that sinks one of the contenders. Speaking of which, Memphis can only get better when Z-Bo returns, which is bad news to the rest of the West. And don’t reject the idea of the Timberwolves sneaking up and reaching the playoffs just yet.
John Schuhmann: Utah. Tyrone Corbin and the Jazz deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of a home-heavy early schedule, something that most of us weren’t expecting them to do. Looking at opponent winning percentage, they’ve had the 13th toughest schedule thus far, and they’ve picked up some quality wins. But they’ve played just six road games, have the fifth-worst road point differential in the league, and haven’t played two straight road games since they lost by a combined 42 points to the Lakers and Nuggets to start the season. I’ll believe they’re a playoff team if I see them in the top eight on March 11, after they’ve played 13 of their last 18 on the road.
Sekou Smith: I’d love to answer this question Feb. 15. By then Houston Rockets will have finished a wicked stretch that will see them play seven of eight games on the road in a two-week stretch. If they survive that treacherous patch of the season, then I’ll know that their recent surge is more than just a momentary blip. I love what Kevin McHale has them doing right now and Kyle Lowry is having a monster season. I’m just a little apprehensive about climbing aboard the bandwagon without a little more evidence that this thing is for real.