We have reached the halfway mark of the NBA season and this week was loaded with interesting storylines. So, let’s take a look at some of the most news-worthy topics in the NBA this past week.
This game was over at half-time. The Cavs originally debated resting their starters for this game and maybe they would have been better off that way.
The Warriors jumped out to an early lead in this one and never looked back. In the first half, Golden State recorded 25 assists, which was the fourth time they’ve done that this season. No one else has been able to pull that off once.
While the lead had already opened up by this point, the play that really changed the game was when Draymond and LeBron collided at mid-court.
Draymond vs LeBron 👀 pic.twitter.com/Um9bzys8Gu
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 17, 2017
While it was a hard foul, this was unquestionably a flop from LeBron, however Draymond was whistled for a flagrant after the review. Directly after this, the Warriors went on a run that essentially ended the game. Oracle exploded after a Durant fast-break dunk. Then, Curry closed the half after a ridiculous sequence with a buzzer-beater to give the Warriors a 78–49 lead.
KD was dominant in the first half, with another efficient scoring night of 19 points on 8/12 from the field. Curry had a double-double, with 14 points and 10 assists by the half as well.
The only real positive for the Cavs in the first half came a few minutes into the game when LeBron flipped an incredible behind-the-back pass to Korver while falling down.
Kevin Love sat out the 2nd half due to lower back tightness. But, even after the half it was all Warriors.
One of the most notable takeaways from the game is how improved Durant is on the defensive end. We saw some potential from him in the playoffs, but this year he’s really turned it up a notch on defense. He absolutely stuffedLeBron at the rim on one play, and didn’t let LeBron score on him once throughout the entire game. This is a big improvement from Christmas where LeBron was 4/4 on attempts with Durant guarding him. LeBron had actually beat KD in their past 5 meetings before last night. But this time, Durant finally got one against his rival. LeBron still leads their head-to-head matchup with an 18–5 record against KD though.
It also seems as though Durant has become the new face of the Warriors, especially when they play the Cavs. Durant has become much more aggressive, and clearly wants to be the focal point of this rivalry. It definitely feels more like KD vs. LeBron now, rather than Steph vs. LeBron.
For the Cavs, it’s become clear that when Kyrie doesn’t play well, they’re not going to have a chance against the Warriors. We saw what happened in the 2015 Finals when Kyrie went down, and more importantly, we saw the 2016 Finals and how much better the Cavs are when Kyrie is in the zone. They’r going to need him to score efficiently to beat Golden State.
Getting JR Smith back will add a lot to this matchup. Also, the Korver addition is going to be huge. The Cavs may not have won last night, but perhaps the biggest takeaway for Cleveland is that Korver is going to be a major threat from deep against Golden State. He’s clearly a major upgrade over Dunleavy, and can get the Cavs points in a hurry. Cleveland also desparately needs a backup point guard, which they will likely explore before the playoffs.
It’s hard not to react to a blowout win like this, but if you remember, last year when the Warriors and Cavs played on MLK day it was a similar scorein the Warriors favor. In those two blowout losses to Golden State, LeBron recorded the two worst +/- of his entire career. However, once June rolled around, that game meant nothing. Similar to how this game will be essentially irrelevant in June this year.
One thing this game didn’t show us though is how the Warriors play in close games. They’ve struggled down the stretch in the past, and getting more experience in close games would really be helpful for this team. However, it’s unlikely they get to experience many of those games before the Finals. Which would be an advantage for the Cavs who tend to finish these games better. Also, while Javale had a few nice plays last night. It’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to trust him in a Finals game. They may want to explore other options at backup center.
Melo era in New York coming to an end?
It’s been a tough few weeks for the Knicks. They have lost eight of their last 10 games and fell to 18–24 on the season. They lost a heartbreaker to the Sixers where Melo reportedly went on a locker room rant after the game, and another heartbreaker to the Hawks in the final seconds. Derrick Rose went M.I.A. in one of the most bizarre stories of the season, and reportedlystill wants a max contract. But most importantly, the Melo trade talk has begun once again.
Charley Rosen, aformer assistant coach under Phil Jackson, recently published an article saying, “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York.” Rosen went on to say, “It’s understood that he’d only accept being dealt to the Cavaliers or the Clippers.”
In response to this article, Melo noted, “If that’s the case than that’s what’s coming from that side I guess it’s a conversation we should have. If they feel like my time in New York is over I guess that’s a conversation we should have.”
This is the first time Melo has ever acknowledged a potential move out of New York, as he reportedly has not considered waiving his no-trade clause before. Since the article was written by a close friend of Jackson’s, it’s not too far fetched to think this was Jackson’s way of hinting he wants Melo out. With the way the Knicks season is going, and Carmelo’s 2018 free agency not so far away, the time to trade Melo is now. But the no-trade clause is what’s holding up this entire situation.
If you’re looking for a video to sum up the Knicks season, this is it:
The trade deadline is a little over a month away, so here are the top rumors from this past week:
Several teams, including the Orlando Magic, have reportedly shown interest in Goran Dragic.
The Miami Heat are reportedly not shopping Hassan Whiteside, who they re-signed in free agency this past summer.
The Hawks have reportedly taken Paul Millsap off he market. But that doesn’t mean he won’t hit the market again once the trade deadline comes around.
The Lakers reportedly expressed interest in both Paul Millsap and Nerlens Noel. But they have been unwilling to part with any members of their young core.