As always it was a busy week in the NBA. However, week 15 provided us with multiple intriguing storylines, many of which no one saw coming.
We start at South Beach with a team no one thought would be making significant headlines this week, the Miami Heat. After losing 10 out of 11 games the Heat slumped to 11-30, boasting the worst record in the Eastern Conference. What followed, however, has been a remarkable eight-game winning streak, which stands as the longest current win streak in the NBA. Their eight-game run has been the Heat’s first since 2014 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all suited up.
With the Backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters suddenly looking like a threat the Heat have found themselves with wins over the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. If the Heat can steer clear of the injuries that have plagued them this season there is no reason why the Heat’s good form can’t continue.
If the Miami Heat has been the surprise team of the week/month then the Washington Wizards are a close second. After sitting with a 2-8 record after the first ten games the Wizards now sit at 27-20. The Wizards have won an incredible 14 straight games at the Verizon Center. The Backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal that has promised so much is finally clicking. Wall is in an elite company being one of only three players to be averaging 20 points and 10 assists, the other two are Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Beal has also taken his game to another level averaging a career-high 22 points.
The Golden State Warriors are on track for another 70-win season following their 46-point blowout over the L.A. Clippers. Whilst the Warriors keep on keeping on it seems like they are one of the only top seeds that aren’t going through a slump. After winning 20 out of 22 games, James Harden and the Houston Rockets have proceeded to lose seven of their last eleven. The Rockets aren’t alone. Things aren’t much better up north for the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have been in freefall losing six of their last seven games including home losses to the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic.
Whilst it would take a minor miracle for an Eastern Conference team to keep the Cleveland Cavaliers out of another finals appearance, however, the fact that LeBron James has so openly voiced his displeasure at the roster is a cause for concern. The Cavs have lost seven of their last eleven matches, including losses to the Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans without Anthony Davis.
Despite all of these slumps, It’s hard to go past the Chicago Bulls for the team that has had the worst week. Last Thursday the Chicago Bulls led the Atlanta Hawks by 10 points with three minutes to go. The Hawks then went on a 19-4 run to close out the game. Post Match the two stars of the Bulls team, Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade did some talking.
Wade said. “Everyone don’t care enough. It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ball games. It pisses me off.” Butler then echoed these sentiments saying “If you don’t come in this f***** locker room pissed off after you lose any game, something is wrong. I want to play with guys who care, guys who play hard, who want to do well for this organisation, who want to do whatever it takes to win.”
Point guard Rajon Rondo fired back on Instagram, posting a photo of himself, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo captioned the photo with essentially an essay “My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My Vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every single time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game.”
Both Butler and Wade said they had no issue with what Rondo posted. Butler and Wade were punished for their comments, starting their next game against the Miami Heat on the bench. The Bulls would go on to lose this game 100-88.