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.
We still have a few games to go. Give us the top three things you’ll be watching in the last couple weeks of this whacked-out season.
1.) I’ll be watching the injury updates and inactive reports because I don’t believe that teams dealing with significant or multiple injuries (we’re looking at you, Chicago) can just flip a switch and be postseason-ready. Unless a playoff-bound team has 3-5 games intact to ramp up for the postseason – or a very, very breezy first-round draw – this meatball season might bite them.
2.) I’ll be watching some of the NBA’s golden oldies (Nash, Kidd, Garnett, Hill, etc.) just because our time with them is short, whether they’re back next fall or not.
3.) While I have my Sixth Man, Rookie and even my Coach award votes in mind, I still have to settle on Defensive, Most Improved and MVP candidates, and especially in a 66-game season, every game counts.
1.) The entire Western Conference playoff race. We have San Antonio and OKC dueling for the No. 1 seed and just about everybody else seeming to be a two-game win streak or a two-game losing streak from having home-court advantage or being knocked out of the playoffs entirely;
2.) The next sequel in “Dwight & Stan’s Excellent Adventure.”
3.) Can Andrew Bynum pull his head back on straight to make the Lakers a team to be taken seriously going into the playoffs?
1.) Derrick Rose. Bound for the playoffs with good health? Bound for a disappointing playoff exit with the Bulls world on his shoulders?
2.) What becomes of the Clippers? They were down. They got back up. Now comes a tough finishing schedule with a lot of road games and back-to-backs.
3.) The latest annual great race for West playoff positioning. Anyone who says the regular season doesn’t matter does not understand the importance of seedings.
1.) Do the Bobcats win another game, or continue flirting with infamy?
2.) Are the Sixers really in danger of missing the playoffs after leading the division just a month ago?
3.) Do the Spurs keep resting starters or make a run at best record and homecourt in the West?
1.) The race for seventh and eighth in the East, if the Sixers can recover from their recent collapse, if the Knicks can avoid being considered of the most underachieving teams in history, or if the Bucks can ride their post-trade momentum into the playoffs.
2.) If the Lakers can put their drama behind them, because I think they’re a legit contender if Andrew Bynum can get on the same page as Mike Brown.
3.) Derrick Rose’s health, because … well, duh.
1.) Who wins the Western Conference crown. The Thunder appeared to have it locked up a few weeks ago only to cede the top spot to the Spurs, and their 11-game win streak, recently. Now the Spurs are resting guys and preparing for the postseason. Both sides realize how crucial home court advantage throughout the postseason is to their championship dreams.
2.) Where the Grizzlies and Celtics finish in the playoff order. They are the two most dangerous teams in the league right now, where those aforementioned playoff dreams are concerned. They can turn someone’s dreams into a nightmare under the right circumstances. Their first-round draws will have no fun dealing with either outfit.
3.) Will one, both or none of Mike D’Antoni’s former teams make the playoffs. The Knicks and Suns are both in the mix, the Knicks are in this morning and the Suns are sitting at 9th in the West. D’Antoni will be watching the playoffs from home. It’s going to be interesting to see if he is joined by one or both of his former teams or if they both find their way into the playoff mix.