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2013 NBA Update

As we move into the second half of the NBA season, some unexpected teams are surging to the top of the ranks. Of course, nobody is surprised by the Miami Heat’s position at the top of the Eastern conference, but the wrong team from Los Angeles seems to be at the top, the Clippers. Many expected the Lakers to be the dominate team in the Western Conference, but they are not even in the picture right now. Here’s a quick look at where we stand as of right now:

Eastern Conference

1. Miami Heat
2. New York Knicks
3. Indiana Pacers
4. Atlanta Hawks
5. Chicago Bulls
6. Brooklyn Nets
7. Milwaukee Bucks
8. Boston Celtics

Biggest Surprises in the East

Probably the biggest surprise is the rivalry matchup sitting in the 2 and 3 seeds currently. Both Indiana and New York were expected to be in the playoff hunt, but not sitting right behind Miami with a legitimate chance to win the East. The Atlanta Hawks can also be thrown into this surprise group, as they are right behind the Pacers and not far behind the east leading Heat.

It’s going to be an exciting run to finish the season and snagging Indiana Pacers tickets for one of the final games, as they renew their historic rivalry with the Knicks, can lead to an exciting and memorable experience. All eight teams have winning records and the top four teams all have a real chance to win the conference.

Western Conference

1. Los Angeles Clippers
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. San Antonio Spurs
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Golden State Warriors
6. Houston Rockets
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Portland Trailblazers

Biggest Surprises in the West

The biggest surprise found in the western conference has to do with the team not in the playoff picture, as of right now. The 15-20 Los Angeles Lakers were picked to possibly win more games than any other NBA team in history, at the beginning of the season, but they currently sit 10 games back from the 8th and final playoff seed. Another huge surprise lurking even further back than the Lakers is the Dallas Mavericks.

Both of these teams have recently experienced quite a bit of success, but neither is even close to the playoff hunt right now. Without a long winning streak in the second half of the season, we may see the Lakers miss the playoffs for only the 6th time in franchise history and the first time since 2004-2005. We will most likely also see the playoffs played without Dallas for the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons.

Predictions

With the two biggest surprises coming from the west, predicting the NBA finals teams isn’t all that easy. At the beginning of the year, many experts picked Miami and Los Angeles Lakers to make the finals. However, it’s necessary to re-evaluate the picture now and it’s very likely a team, such as the Indiana Pacers or the New York Knicks could build enough momentum to overtake Miami in the playoffs.

The west is all up for grabs and the most likely team to go to the finals is the San Antonio Spurs, simply because they know how to get there. Another team to look out for is the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they are young and capable of making a playoff run.

Whichever teams end up in the playoffs and the finals, this season has created quite a bit of excitement. The top teams in both conferences are only a few games apart from each other and nobody is running away with the conference titles. It will be exciting to watch and fun to see how it all shakes out.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Andrew Bogut on Jennings, lockout and more

Milwaukee Bucks’ Andrew Bogut dunks against the New York Knicks in the first half during their NBA basketball game in Milwaukee, Wisconsin March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Andrew Bogut spends part of the offseason in Croatia, which may seem odd since he’s from Australia. But he doesn’t like going from winter in the U.S. to winter in Australia, so he has an apartment in Croatia, which is where his grandparents are from.

Anyway, he spoke with HoopsHype about a wide-range of topics. Here’s his take on Brandon Jennings:

He had a very good first season and in the second he had an injury and it was a little up and down. But he’s a guy that’s a very, very hard worker. I definitely enjoy playing with him because I can see in the offseason and during the offseason how hard he works on his game. I don’t think people realize the work he puts in. Maybe they see him doing these tours with Under Armour and think he’s not working on his game, but he’s a very hard worker. He’s going to get better and better. You have to remember he’s still very young and his potential is huge.

Bogut and Jennings are the Bucks’ core, in that order, so the duo better learn to be effective with each other. They have shown flashes, but last year it was a real struggle to score, and that’s on them.

Bogut was asked about being slighted for an All-Star nod and here’s what he had to say:

I think this year I didn’t deserve it, but the previous year I was a little hurt about it. That’s just the NBA. Al Horford deserved to be in because his team had a much better record than us, but the previous year they put David Lee with a worse record than us… (Making the All-Star team) is one of those goal that you work towards and hopefully one day I will have my All-Star jersey.

Bogut also mentioned that he was shocked he didn’t make the All-Defensive 2nd Team, and I agree with him. I thought he was in the running for DPOY and he didn’t even get a 2nd Team nod. But like Andrew says, that’s the NBA.

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My beloved Bucks, coming off of a surprising win in Dallas to snap the Mavs’ 12-game winning streak, gave the Spurs one hell of a run before Manu Ginobili hit this game winner at the buzzer.

The Bucks had a chance to take the lead, but failed to get a good look at the hoop. It’s a situation where Brandon Jennings has to create his own shot, but he ended up picking up his dribble and giving the ball to Luc Mbah a Moute, who tried to draw the foul on an airborne player.

Ginobili had 26 points, six rebounds and four assists in the win. Chris Douglas-Roberts (21 points) and Drew Gooden (20 points) led the Bucks in scoring, but it was Andrew Bogut (15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and SEVEN BLOCKS) who was the player of the game for Milwaukee. I sure hope he gets a long, hard look for the All-Star team, but Al Horford, Shaquille O’Neal, Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez might have something to say about that. None of those players are the defensive presence that Bogut is, however.

2010 NBA Preview: #11 to #15

New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire adjusts his glasses during an NBA preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Paris on October 6, 2010. The Timberwolves won the contest, part of the annual NBA Europe Live tour, by the score of 106-100.  UPI/David Silpa Photo via Newscom

This year, I’m going to preview the NBA season by starting with the lowest of the low and working my way up to my Finals picks. If a franchise is a legitimate championship contender, I’ll focus on what stars have to line up for a title run. If a team is a playoff also-ran, I’ll identify the weaknesses that have to be shored up via trade, free agency or draft over the next couple of seasons to make it a contender. If a team is likely to miss the playoffs, I’ll take a look at the salary cap, and provide a blueprint for how the team should proceed in the near future to get back in the postseason.

#15: New York Knicks
The Knicks missed out on LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh this summer, but they did land Amare Stoudemire, and also acquired Raymond Felton to run the point. David Lee is gone, but New York did get a good young player in Anthony Randolph to take his place. In other words, this Knicks team is going to look a lot different than last year’s club, and probably for the better. Newcomers Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, Roger Mason, (promising) Russian center Timofey Mozgov along with Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas will round out Mike D’Antoni’s rotation. Cap-wise, the Knicks are still in good shape. Eddy Curry’s $11 M expiring deal can be used as trade bait or the franchise can just let it come off the books, creating around $18 million in cap space next summer, which they could use to sign Carmelo Anthony if he hits free agency. The only big contract on the payroll is Stoudemire’s deal, and the Knicks really need him to stay healthy in order to get their money’s worth. This looks like a franchise on the rise, but they need to land one more star to threaten the upper echelon of the East.

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