The past two weeks of NBA play have been highly eventful and full of exciting action between many of the league’s top teams.
The Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers had arguably the greatest game of the season to this point. In addition, Kevin Durant made his emotional first return to Oklahoma City. When his Golden State Warriors took on his former team, the OKC Thunder, who they crushed for the third time this season.
In addition, the Wizards and Cavaliers put on a show last Monday, Feb. 6 in a game that Cleveland narrowly defeated Washington 140-135 on the road in overtime. Kevin Love had one of his best games in his Cavaliers career, scoring 39 points, including 6-10 shooting on three-pointers and adding 12 rebounds. LeBron James was his usual, dominant self scoring 32 points, dishing out an astonishing 17 assists, and shooting an incredible 6-8 from three-point land.
On the other side, the Wizards’ star guards were phenomenal. Point guard John Wall poured in 22 points while contributing 12 assists. The real star for Washington in this contest, though, was shooting guard Bradley Beal, who scored 41 points on a very efficient 57 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from deep.
Even though the Wizards lost this game, they proved themselves to be a real force to be reckoned with in the East. It took arguably the greatest play of the season so far, a buzzer-beating, turn around three-pointer by LeBron James to force overtime and beat this red-hot Wizards team. The biggest thing holding them back from being a legitimate title contender in the East is the fact that the Wizards essentially run a six-man rotation of their starters and Kelly Oubre off the bench. However, sitting at third place in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are as hot as any team in the league and are absolutely a team to be taken seriously in the second half and playoffs.
The Cavaliers, on the other hand, are in very big trouble. It was announced Tuesday, Feb. 14, that power forward Kevin Love will miss the next six weeks of the season. This is a huge blow for a team that was already struggling prior to hearing this devastating news. Love is averaging 20 points and leads the team in rebounds, with 11 per game. Love’s production will be very difficult to replace for Cleveland over the next six weeks, and if they cannot figure out how to do so, their first overall seed in the East is undoubtedly in jeopardy.
In Kevin Durant’s first return to his old home of Oklahoma City, he and the Warriors dominated Russell Westbrook and Durant’s former team by a score of 130-114. The score even makes it appear closer than the game ever was. Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors outplayed the Thunder the whole game and it never felt as if Oklahoma City ever stood a chance.
Durant scored 34 points in his emotional return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, and Curry, Klay Thompson each added 26 more. The Warriors were simply too much for the one-man-show that is the OKC Thunder.
Sure, Russell Westbrook had 47 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but the unbalanced Thunder team was simply no match for the best team in the league. The Thunder are now 0-3 on the season against Golden State.
In other news, the Toronto Raptors made a trade on Tuesday with the Orlando Magic for power forward Serge Ibaka, and only gave up Terrance Ross and a 2017 first round pick in return. This seems like a great trade for Toronto who is absolutely in the “win-now” mode and needed to make a big trade if they want to compete with the Cavaliers, Celtics and Wizards in the East.
Starting Friday, Feb. 17, NBA All-Star Weekend will begin in New Orleans, LA. On Friday, there will be the Rising Stars Challenge as well as the Celebrity All-Star Game. Saturday will include the Skills Competition, Three-Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Competition. Finally, on Sunday the All-Stars from each conference will compete in the NBA All-Star Game.