During the course of the first half of the season, people were ready to book tickets for various teams such as the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder; while at the same time ready to write off the San Antonio Spurs.
The Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors were placed in the category of wrong place at the wrong time. They were the unfortunate soles who got stuck in the Western Conference where they were the odd men out.
Now each of those teams are fortunes (at the moment) have taken a 180 degree turn.
The Indiana Pacers were looking as the team that was poised to knock the Heat off there throne atop the Eastern Conference. In past seasons, the team would fly under the radar and sneak up on other teams come playoff time. This year teams are ready for the Pacers and with Andrew Bynum back on the court; they are having growing pains of working him in to what they like to do. I expect them to get Bynum in the mix by the time the Playoffs roll around; and will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Miami Heat just snapped a three game losing streak versus title contenders (Rockets, Spurs and Bulls) with a 99-90 win over the Washington Wizards. As the defending champions, the Heat are always getting the opponents top caliber game and have a smaller margin for error when they do not have their “A” game. That was also a tough stretch of 3 games in 5 nights that did catch up to them.
The Thunder, much like the Spurs, are a team that were playing rather well without one of their core players. Now they finally have Russell Westbrook back. Now they are facing the issue of getting Westbrook back in playing shape as well as having the bench players getting adjusted to their new roles. This process takes time and some losses will result but they will be ready come playoff time.
The Rockets are a team that have the talent to make a run but lack the time together. They lack experience of playing together through the playoffs. Their talent allows them to excel in the regular season but come playoff time the level of competition will prove to be tough for them to overcome.
The Warriors have played the most consistent of all the teams mentioned. The team lacks the inside/outside balance that the other team have. They have the philosophy of live by the three and die by the three. Much like Rockets, during the regular season you can excel in that system when level of defense leaves a bit to be desired. During the playoffs, you are facing teams with a focus on defense that you haven’t seen before and in a seven game series that desire will trump three point shooting.
So Spurs’ fans, what are your thought on the playoff contenders?