Blogtable: Moves Before the Break

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe 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.

Team due to surge, slip | Ultimate pro | Knicks or Nets?

Stephen Curry and coach Mark Jackson of the Warriors (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE)

Stephen Curry and coach Mark Jackson of the Warriors (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE)

A month ‘til All-Star: Pick a contender due for a surge. Who’s due to slip?

Steve Aschburner, Trick question, right, since there are such a limited number of legit contenders this season? This is a matter of short-term schedules, in my view. I like Golden State’s chances of surging, what with 12 of their next 17 games at home. And with the Clippers beginning a seven-game trip Friday, and Chris Paul replaced by Cliff Paul for the time being, I think they’re going to be stepping back before stepping up.

Fran Blinebury, The Clippers and Thunder already stumbled a bit in the immediate aftermath of losing Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.  Based on the schedule and their upcoming five-game road trip, I’d guess the Pacers will trip a time or two and next week you’ll be asking if the sky is falling in Indianapolis.

Jeff Caplan, The Rockets have been a maddening team at times this season, very inconsistent, lose big leads, look disinterested at times. But, Patrick Beverley is nearing a return and that will help with the Rockets’ perimeter defense and allow, I assume, Jeremy Lin to come off the bench again, where I think he was a pretty effective player. I look for the Rockets to make strong push into the All-Star break. As for a downturn, as much as I love the Blazers, I think we could see them flatten out a bit. They’ve already started to a bit, and they’ve had some really close calls. They’ve just been such an efficient offensive machine that it’s hard to see that not drop off a tick or two.

Robin Lopez (Rocky Widner/NBAE)

Robin Lopez (Rocky Widner/NBAE)

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comThe Spurs could slip from the top spot in the West now that they are down two of their best defenders, Danny Green and Tiago Splitter. And won’t San Antonio just be so panicked to miss out on the championship of February. No one will yawn more than the Spurs if it does happen, but this will be an interesting time ahead, good or bad. I’ll go with the Pacers for the surge. Or the continuation of the surge that started in October. Pretty favorable schedule ahead, with a few challenges but mostly games Indiana should win. The same could be said for the Heat, though. Two Eastern leaders cruising along.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comGolden State should continue to move up the standings. They’re 20-4 with both Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala in the lineup, have a top-five defense, and have played the toughest schedule among West contenders. Ten of their 14 games between now and the break are at home, with only two back-to-backs. Portland, meanwhile, should continue to slide. Their bottom-10 defense has been catching up with them, they play 10 of their 16 games between now and the break on the road, with five back-to-backs. The Warriors, when healthy, are the better of the two teams and I could see them ahead of the Blazers come Feb. 14, even though they’re four games behind right now.

Sekou Smith, NBA.comIf home counts for anything, the Golden State Warriors are on the cusp of a robust slate of home dates that will make my preseason pick to win it all (yes, the Western Conference and everything) look really good as they continue to climb the ranks in the Western Conference playoff race. The Warriors play 10 of their 15 games between now and All-Star Weekend at Oracle Arena. That gives them a chance to pad that 15-5 home record this season and make some serious noise before the break. The Heat are in slippage mode as we speak, which might not be the worst thing in the world for the two-time defending champs. I actually think the Heat have earned the right take a deep breath and not press the way they would normally. It’s not like they have to worry about anyone else in the Eastern Conference passing them up in the standings. Let the Pacers press on in their pursuit of that No. 1 overall seed in the East, let them expend the energy it takes to get on the Heat’s level. After that 27-game win streak zapped so much of their energy last season I think the Heat have learned their lesson. A measured approach to the marathon that is the NBA season (the regular and post) would be prudent at this juncture.

Lang Whitaker, All Ball blogI can’t help but watch the Miami Heat and think they have another level they’re just waiting to stumble upon. Like last season, when the Heat were kind of piddling along and then, boom, they reeled off 27 straight wins. They’ve got the eye of the tiger in there somewhere, if only they can find it. As for a team due for a slip, maybe Portland? I suggest them only because they haven’t really had a slip all season. But to be honest, at this point I think they are who we think they are (shoutout to Denny Green), and as long as they keep playing with energy and knocking down jumpers, the Blazers are for real.

Akshay Manwani, NBA India: I don’t know if you can count even better play from the best team in the league, the Indiana Pacers, as a surge, but I don’t see them losing too many between now and All-Star 2014. The Pacers play nine of their next 16 games at home, where they have been an enviable 19-1 record this season. Alternately, I see the OKC Thunder, without Russell Westbrook, continuing to slip as they take on Houston, Golden State, Portland, San Antonio, Miami and Brooklyn before the break.

Philipp Dornhegge, NBA Deutschland: The Warriors have been playing great lately and I think this might continue with Curry, Iguodala and Bogut all healthy. OKC might slip a little. The Thunder have had to heavily rely on KD in hopes of compensating for the missing Westbrook. Sooner or later this will come back to haunt them.

Simon Legg, NBA Australia: After not having the best start to 2014, I can see the Heat having a surge between now and the All Star break. They’re too good to continue losing so don’t be surprised if they go on a streak. LeBron James is shooting 59 percent from the field but is only attempting 16 shots a game, four down from his career average. I can see him getting up more shots in the future so look out. And as well as they’ve played so far, there have been some little signs that Portland may be due for a little slip. I don’t see it being a catastrophic slide, but they may begin to lose a few more games as we near the All-Star break and potentially losing their second seed in the West.


  1. Rick P. says:

    I love how everyone is dismissing the Grizzlies out west. With Marc Gasol back and Tony Alllen due back real soon they will be ready to begin their grit and grind push for the 2nd half of the season. Picking up Courtney Lee for Jarryd Bayless was a steal and will help stretch the floor. James Johnson has been a great pick up and provides athletic ability off of the bench. They may only make it back to somewhere between the 6-8 seeds, but if healthy they will be there and tell me what team wants to see them in the 1st round!


    I keep hearing all this talk that Portland is one piece away from winning it all. I think that piece is healthy now, and could be ready by seasons end, to push MO back.

    And if your think Golden state, and the Spurs are NOT jump shooting teams, you have not been watching. The Only inside player on Golden State is David Lee, and ALdridge already torched him.

    As a matter of fact, who hasen’t LA torched yet? LOL….

    And how in theee heck, can anyone put the Timberwolves in the playoffs? They are horrible!!! Kevin needs to leave.

    1. San Antonio
    2. Thunder
    3. Portland
    4. Warriors
    5. Clippers
    6. Rockets
    7. Mavericks
    8. Memphis

    YES!!! I said Memphis…….. * Gasol’s health


    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      I don’t know. Thunder and Blazers will probably finish ahead of Spurs once the season is over. I know it’s just one game, but Portland had a nice win at San Antonio today.

      Popovich went nuts and got himself ejected after receiving 2 technicals in a span of 2 minutes.

      That is not a good sign for the Spurs in the long run.

  3. Janani says:

    The blazer slump is much anticipated, they surged early and for a team that was expected to be in the bottom they are doing pretty good. I am a blazer fan. Things usually work out for blazers in 2 ways, 1. Everything they do goes right or 2. Nothing goes right. This team was supposed to play like this ever since 2007 when Oden got drafted. But the curse of injuries had them sidelined so far. This season they are coming out of a seasons long disappointments (read Oden, Roy etc).
    As for how they continue to play, they will make it to playoff. May be not in the top slot. Once they make it, again there is only 2 possibilities, they either crash out in the first round to go all the way to the championship game and face Indiana/Miami.

  4. jake s. says:

    1. San Antonio
    2. Thunder
    3. Portland
    4. Clippers
    5. Warriors
    6. Rockets
    7. Mavericks
    8. Timberwolves

    Thunder will climb back to 2nd if not first. This is the most likely approximation of playoff contenders. Clippers cannot win with the current roster. Houston cannot win with the current roster. Minnesota needs better shooting guards. Warriors won’t win vs. top defensive teams. I don’t think anyone takes Dallas seriously. San Antonio, OKC, and maybe Portland are the only true West contenders. – – –
    San Antonio can beat the Heat with ball movement, OKC can beat the heat with muscle. Portland is the wild card.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Yeah, could happen. But, this is a new season. Last season could impact this season but not really all that much. Spurs are over-the-hill in NBA terms. Their run last season was great, but it was their last hurrah. Great chemistry and coaching and all that only goes so far.

      When you have one of the greatest NBA scorers of ALL TIME (KD just had a career-high 54 points tonight against the weak Warriors), it’s like having a modern-day Michael Jordan on your team.

      If anyone truly thinks what happened last season will happen again with the Thunder in the playoffs, think again. I give credit to Memphis for defeating OKC in the playoffs, but it will NEVER happen again. NEVER. It was a fluke.

      Kevin Durant a.k.a. modern-day Michael Jordan will win another Scoring Title and he will lead the Thunder back to the Finals year after year after year.

      Russell Westbrook is healthier than people realize. He’s just getting extended rest to ensure he’s 100% in the long run.

      It also goes without saying that the Thunder has excellent team chemistry and coaching. They pride themselves on defensive intensity.

      Reggie Jackson is the next James Harden. Jeremy Lamb is the next Ray Allen. Perry Jones is the next Derrick McKey. Stephen Adams is the next Rony Seikaly. Serge Ibaka is ALWAYS a DPOY candidate.

      I love this game. 🙂

  5. brian says:

    I am a Blazer fan for life, but I think the farthest we will likely get is a second round elimination. It would be farther than we have gotten in our last few playoff appearances, so we could chalk it up as a moral victory. I hope I am wrong, but I am just being realistic.

  6. portMAN says:

    I like Portlands ability to come back after all most always being down at half time.

    westbrook will come back.(6th?????)

    If Curry stays healthy Warriors will make things interesting.

    Monta ellis and the Mavs have suprised me this year.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Nah, Thunder are just pacing themselves a little bit. The OKC Thunder will very likely end the season with the #1 seed. They just don’t want to get too involved with All Star festivities. Brooks would probably rather not want to coach the All Star team this year. Their prioritiy is to finish the season strong and to win it all. When Russ returns, they will be dominant.

      Watch and learn. Watch and learn.

      When the Thunder plays “for real,” they’re unbeatable. When Westbrook returns and is healthy for the entire playoff push, the Thunder will be indomitable and dominant.

      Then, if they somehow lure Carmelo from New York in the offseason, OKC will be the greatest team of All Time. 🙂

  7. Brydon says:

    I like Portland, but they’re going down. Defense wins games.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Yeah, and the Warriors are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, in my estimation. They’re going to struggle huge against the West Conference. It’s already happening as we speak. 🙂

  8. Marshall Bennett says:

    No way I see the WEST shaping out like this
    1. San Antonio
    2. Portland
    3. Thunder
    4. Clippers
    5. Rockets
    6. Warriors
    7. Mavericks
    8. Timberwolves

    Warriors vs Rockets WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP Houston wins in 6

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Rockets could make it to the WCF. But the Warriors? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAAA!! Yeah, they recently had a nice winning streak. So what. A lot of those wins were against East teams. They probably have a lot of games in the near future against West teams. Warriors may go on a losing streak. They’re playing back-to-back tomorrow against the Pelicans after getting slaughtered by the mighty Thunder. Expect those jumpshots to be erratic. Klay Thompson is a great shooter, but he is incredibly overrated. He’s basically one-dimensional and is going to be incredibly inconsistent in the long run.

      Warriors won’t even make the playoffs in the wild West. Their defense is not good enough.

  9. Cleepers says:

    Clippers have stumbled since CP3 went down? They’re 4-1! Keep up that .800 “stumble”, Clips. SMFH!

  10. erik says:

    If you read another nba blog, you would understand it is because they shoot those jumpers that they are staying healthy, unlike these other teams that have their all-star point guards injured.

  11. Portlandia says:

    Wow so many Blazer FANS on here. Not saying I’m not one of them, I’m Portland till I die, but with all of the close wins and the necessary come-from-behind victories by a few points and clutch shots, I wouldn’t be surprised if my team dropped a few soon. Yes, we dominate defensively ‘when it matters’ to win the game, and getting the W is all that matters, but I want my team to dominate defensively the ENTIRE game, every game. I don’t mind seeing my team drop a few or even go on a losing streak if that motivates everyone on the team to step their defensive effort up. I want my team to face the full, healthy rosters of the Heat, Warriors, OKC and such. The team needs that kind of experience.

  12. Josh says:

    No slipping for blazers anytime soon, even with this rough schedule ahead of them. Players are showing no signs of INJURIES, and the BENCH is roaring for minutes. They will end within top 3 in west, with a decent playoff run possible finals.

  13. lol says:

    if portland go to the WCF they can beat spurs or OKC anytime fact and heat are old just like spurs so Blazers win

  14. blazermania says:

    How are they nonexistent when it comes to defense? 3rd and 4th quarters have been dominated by the Blazers not just offensively, but defensively as well. Yes, they don’t force a lot of turnovers, but they make enough defensive stops to halt teams when they are up on them in the third and fourth quarters. Yes they have had some unnecessary losses such as the loss to Miami, Philly, Dallas and New Orleans, but they were all no greater than 6 pts. I don’t even listen to these Speculators, because that’s just what they are, SPECULATORS, They have no freaking clue what is really going to happen, and quite frankly, they have been WRONG too many times…

  15. dustydreamnz says:

    Mo makes some really good points about the Thunder, they badly need Westbrook, gotta hope he’s on schedule to return in a month or so. They’re my slip team.
    My surge team is the Warriors, I like the points John Schumann makes. Maybe Sekou isn’t so mad after all? No reason they can’t atleast win the West with an improved defence.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Improved defense? Warriors just allowed over 120 points to Denver and now to OKC. Their defense is incredibly overrated. They just play at a fast pace where they jack up as many outside shots as possible. Thus, opposing teams might play at the same pace.

      I already said it before. The Golden State Warriors are an average defensive team. Overall, they lack rebounding and let Toney Douglas go. Mistake. Now, they still don’t have a pure PG. Curry is a SG. They’re going to continue to be a high-turnover team.

      Sekou Smith’s Golden State pick to “win it all” is a joke. You realize Golden State isn’t THAT close to LA. Phoenix is probably closer. He’s just trying to find the best “southwest” team to cheer for. But in actuality: the LA Clippers are the best team in California. They may sputter in the playoffs again, but they’re easily better than the Warriors.

  16. Shank says:

    Lol Blazers are gonna slip? This is one the best offenses the league has ever seen. For all these “experts” the Trailblazers have the 3rd best defensive efficiency with 4 minutes left in the game, they play defense when it counts.

    • Han says:

      Did you actually realise, that means their defense was awful for the first 44 minutes? If their shot are not falling (which will happen on a few nights), they’d dig the hole to deep to overcome (that 4 minutes u said that matter, may already be garbage time). Hence, they’d lost more and slip (though may not be catasthropic). I believe they’d still be in the play-off, but 2nd seed will be hard to retain with that kind of defense (more like 4-5th). It’s very rare for a top offense team (without good defense) to get the top seeding or win the championship (Phoenix’s Nash?)

  17. Bonkey says:

    Haters feed Rip City!

  18. Chris Ahlmani says:

    I love the Blazer haters out there =) We weren’t even expected to make the playoffs this season, let alone be the number 2 seed in the West. Keep the nay-sayer’s coming because it seems to only fuel to the fire for these gentlemen, which is exactly what they are, just a bunch of good dudes =) With the negativity at hand, I smell #1 seed in the West closing in once again.

    RIP CITY!!!!

    • mee(a)t says:

      Blazers are almost nonexistent when it comes to defense, I don’t blame them for counting them out.

      • slider821 says:

        agreed. blazers will get some Ls when their offense can no longer compensate for their lack of defense. So far the nay sayers (aka those of us who are not convinced in a team where 1-5 is all jump shooting and mediocre defense) have been proven wrong.

        But the season is not half over yet and Blazers have played the most East teams of any Western conference team. Regression to the mean is all we expect. I like portland and am glad to seem them succeed. But that doesn’t mean I expect them to go to 62-20 as their current record indicates.

  19. Mo says:

    Keep hating on Portland….That’s what you idiot’s are good at, I could see Golden State climbing…But your telling me Portland’s gonna fall?? Do you not know the Thunder are 5-5 without Westbrook, including double digit losses to the JAZZ, Nuggets and Nets, not to mention Memphis and Portland, Clippers might also slip because CP3 is out and now they have a 7 game road trip….I see it shaping out like this

    OKC isn’t anywhere near a championship contender without Westbrook.

    • Puerto Rico says:

      I’m not a Thunder fan, but if you really think that they will end up 6th in the West, you must be on crack or something…
      I really love the suns, but in the Pre-season I picked the Warriors (if healthy) to win it all! With the add of Crawford and Brooks, their chances are better. I just can’t see Portland to win… They look like the era of Steve Nash on Phoenix, 1st on Offensive in almost all categories, but their bottom 10th defense, cost their championship hope…. Don’t be fanatic, be a fan!

    • damen says:

      Portland shoots too many jumpers to stay in the top 2 in my opinion and if you think that the Rockets are gonna jump the Clippers when the rockets get blown away whenever they play a team with good defense and transition game. The Thunder arent gonna be without Russ forever. they will not fall out of the top 4.

    • Brydon says:

      OKC in 6th? Well, you just lost all credibility for anything NBA-related.

    • LearnTheGameB4Posting says:

      Dude that list is clown. Portland will not be number 2 come season end. Bottom tier defense and jump shots teams struggle more and more as the season goes on bc of fatigue from schedule, travel and playing. Can’t win shooting lower percentage shots. With that being said if they keep moving the ball and keep it live then knock down open shots they have a chance.