Zweifel's 2 Cents
a little bit of what's on my mind

NBA First Quarter Review

Now that the first quarter of the NBA season has been played, let’s take a look at who is playoff worthy, and who is a disappointment in the game as well.

Alright, the Eastern Conference has definitely had some teams that are looking like Championship contenders, and then when looking at the bottom of the East, it does not get any worse than that.

The teams on the contending list include the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston has the big three who everybody knows are going to give the Celtics a consistent effort and hustle on a night in, night out basis.  However, Rasheed Wallace has given this team a much-needed lift coming off the bench.  Not only his nine points per game and 31% shooting from three, but his presence on the defensive end has been most impressive.  Yes, Wallace is on the downward turn of his career, but he has a new role and a new attitude that he brings every night for the Celtics and has this team the best record in the conference.

Orlando is the defending conference champions and with the addition of Vince Carter, the Magic appear to be more dynamic on the offensive end.  They are picking up where they left off last season, however Dwight “Superman” Howard has yet to appear dominant in the early going this season.  Much of that is the lack of post touches, and when he does get a touch, opponents are choosing to foul him thus, forcing him to make free throws.

Atlanta is by far the most impressive Hawks team in some time now.  They have improved each of the past three seasons, and this year look for a 50 win season at this rate.  The Hawks are playing some of the most entertaining basketball in the game today, and with an explosive Jamal Crawford coming off the bench, the Hawks second string are dominating teams right now.

Cleveland has been a bit of a disappointing thus far.  The Shaq-Bron tag team has yet to be effective as anticipated, but they are improving.  Shaq has also missed a few games already, and maybe a bit of a concern down the stretch run for the Cavs.  LBJ has continued to show why he is the best player of the game doing it by scoring, setting up his teammates, and on the defense making a young J.J. Hickson look like a future All-Star in the game.

In the rest of the East I like what Miami, Milwaukee, and New York have shown in the first quarter.  Yes, the Knicks did not get off to a hot start, but as of late they are playing well.  The Phoenix victory sparked this team, and are playing a brand of basketball that is fun to watch, and importantly they are getting some wins.  Milwaukee and Miami are two teams that should make the postseason, but just need to play a bit more consistent to provide a challenge to the top-tier of the Eastern Conference.

The Nets of course are a major disappoint after setting a record for most consecutive losses to start a season.  A less obvious disappointment is the play of the Toronto Raptors, who splashed this offseason in the signing of Hedo Turkoglu to tag alongside All-Star forward, Chris Bosh.  The Raptors remain under .500 and on the outside of the playoffs as of now.

In the Western Conference, the Lakers, Nuggets, Mavs so far the only true legit contenders in the conference.

The Lakers are head and shoulders above the rest of the conference so far this season, and the only way I see this team not making it to the NBA Finals would be if Kobe was to get injured.

The Nuggets have just not played consisted enough to provide a serious challenge to the Lakers, although Carmelo Anthony is playing at a MVP level right now.

The Mavs have had a terrific start to the season, especially with all of the Spurs’ troubles.  They have a nice lead on the Spurs and have a nice mix of young and veteran players on the team.  Watch out for this team throughout the rest of the regular season.

Other teams that should make the playoffs by the way they have performed so far include Houston, Phoenix, Portland, Utah, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City.  The Thunder have played some of the most exciting basketball of the first quarter, and Kevin Durant has shown he is up there as one of the league’s brightest stars in the game today.  Averaging 28 points per game.

Some major disappointments in the West so far include the New Orleans Hornets, with all that talent alongside Chris Paul, it is inexcusable of their record.  Also the Minnesota Timberwolves effort and record as well.  Lock them up alongside the New Jersey Nets for the one and two teams for the most ping-pong balls for the draft.

Another major disappointment is that there is still no Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ lineup.  We will have to wait until January before his debut happens, and that to me is probably the biggest disappointment in the game right now.

Still a lot of games to be played, but it is never too early to start judging teams and where they are headed.  It’s been an exciting, drama filled, and headlines galore so far, and we still have a long way to go in the season.  I for one cannot wait to watch the ride unfold.

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