Philly Sports Box: Feb. 19, 2015

By Howard Blake III
February 18, 2015

Now that we have entered the halfway point of the NBA regular season, we have seen teams shape themselves into contenders and individual players emerge into MVP candidates thus far.

The Golden State Warriors have the NBA’s best record at 42-9 and possibly the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in Stephen Curry heading into the All-Star break. Curry is averaging 23.6 points per game and 7.9 assists and has been the leader of the first place Warriors. The best news for Warriors fans is that Curry has played injury free basketball thus far and has yet to miss a game. While Curry has shouldered the majority of the load, his splash brother, Klay Thompson, has lit it up as well this season. He set an NBA record for most points in a quarter with 37. With the tough play of Draymond Green and Marreese Speights coming off of the bench, the Warriors are running the table in the West and may have the deepest team in the NBA.

Surprisingly the Warriors are accompanied at the top of the entire NBA by the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have had a remarkable season so far considering they are atop the Eastern Conference without a true bonified superstar. It has been a team effort for the Hawks. Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap lead the young Hawks team while Veteran Kyle Korver is doing his part shooting an NBA best 52 percent from the three-point line.

We all may have expected prior to the season that the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the number one team in the Eastern Conference considering how weak the Eastern Conference is compared to the West. But we were all very wrong; LeBron James and the Cavaliers are only the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference at the moment. The Cavs are going through their growing pains. All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are trying to find their roles as second and third fiddle to LeBron James. The process has not been easy as we can see from a 33-22 fifth place record. Irving has been making strides and looks as if he is finding his rhythm recently. Kevin Love still continues to struggle. Even though 17 points per game and 10 rebounds sounds efficient, it is not as good as we have seen from Love during his past years in Minnesota. Frustration has been looming with James concerning Love as he tweeted indirectly about Love needing to fall inline and be apart of something special that the Cavs are working towards. However the Cavaliers have won 14 of their last 16 games.

But over in the Western Conference the Houston Rockets are sitting at the fourth spot. James Harden has been mentioned along side of Curry for this year’s MVP honors. Harden is a scoring machine and has put the league on notice that he cannot be guarded one on one. Harden has abused his defenders by getting to the rim at will and averages at least nine free throw attempts per game. He leads the NBA with 27.4 points per game and has his highest assist totals thus far in his career with 6.8 per game. He has put the Rockets on his back and looks like the best shooting guard in the NBA this season.

However the NBA’s sleeper team would have to be the Oklahoma City Thunder. With early injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the Thunder found themselves out of the playoff race early. However with their two stars healthy, they have done their part to get themselves just one game out of the eighth seed for the playoffs. This team is so dangerous and if they find a way to secure the last spot in the playoffs, whoever finishes with the first seed won’t be too happy having to face KD and Westbrook in the first round.

All in all it has been a great start to the season and it will be interesting to see if team’s can hold on to their spots for the remainder of the season.

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Howard Blake III

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