Title: Southeast Division Recap
Date: April 8, 2008
Original Source: About.com
Synopsis: After branching out from The ODC to Hoops Addict, I also got hooked up doing weekly Southeast Division reviews for About.com. Why? Because the site is USA Today affiliated, and because I had a connection with the editor and he needed someone on short notice. It only lasted a few weeks of the season and into the summer, and the links are now lost (About.com doesn’t keep archives of previous seasons’ weekly division reviews, because apparently nobody cares what the Wizards’ outlook was in late March of 2008, go figure), but luckily I have backups and can recover the text.
Recap Rewind: The Hawks beat the Raptors in an OT barn burner, lost a heartbreaker to Philadelphia, and then rebounded to beat the 76ers in a tight game. All of these games were good playoff tune ups.
Notable News: A fairly quiet news week in Atlanta, which can only be good news at this point in the season. The only real news surrounds Al Horford’s Rookie of the Year campaign…no comment.
Fast Forward: The Hawks can clinch the 8th seed with any combination of wins and Pacer losses equalling two, and they play Indiana on the 8th. Their main goal right now is getting through the last weeks healthy and finding a way to prepare for the Celtics. They’ll get a shot, hosting Boston after road games in Indiana and New York this week.
Recap Rewind: The Bobcats won a nail biter against the Raptors in between losses to Cleveland and Boston (a real blow out). If nothing else, the Bobcats have gone from being a streaky team (four streaks of five or more games, win or loss, at some point this year) to being back-and-forth down the stretch.
Notable News: The Bobcats currently hold the 8th worst record in the league, putting them in the thick of the lottery, in the area where players like Eric Gordon and Danilo Gallinari are being discussed (the Bobcats will, of course, draft a player from a winning school like Russell Westbrook out of UCLA). The only other real news is that Michael Jordan is “not displeased” with the job Sam Vincent has done, but isn’t saying anything else.
Fast Forward: Charlotte has an unfortunate week for a team looking for ping pong balls and could be a main event feature in this week’s tanking showcase. Games against Minnesota, New York, and Indiana are on tap.
Recap Rewind: Losses against New Orleans, Washington, and Detroit were not surprising, and at this point neither was the sub-80 point output in two of those games.
Notable News: Alonzo Mourning was honoured directly before the Pistons loss, and otherwise, the team’s focus is on young players and seeing how they handle big minutes. Chris Quinn has reacted best, though erratically, and Blake Ahearns may have earned himself a contract somewhere for next year.
Fast Forward: The Heat are just one game away from clinching the league’s worst record, so the next week or two will be all about deciding between Beasley and Rose, given the choice. Games against Chicago, Memphis, Cleveland, and Toronto are on deck.
Recap Rewind: Orlando lost to New Orleans (acceptable), beat Cleveland (impressive), and lost an ugly game to the Knicks (inexplicable).
Notable News: For three straight weeks I’ve wrote the same thing here – the Magic are in a holding pattern and are focused on being healthy and ready for Washington/Philly/Toronto in the playoffs. The bad week would be easier to swallow if Hedo, Dwight, and Rashard weren’t playing close to 40 minutes in each of those games.
Fast Forward: Orlando sees Chicago twice with a game against the Timberwolves sandwiched in. Need I mention that these teams are playing for ping pong balls and the Magic should be resting, thus producing three potentially ugly games?
Recap Rewind: Washington dropped a game to Milwaukee but rebounded to beat Chicago and Miami in ‘gimme’ games.
Notable News: The Wiz are the only team in this division with anything to play for right now, and they seem focused on a first round match up with the rival Cavaliers. Gilbert Arenas looked good, scoring 30 points in 39 minutes over two games before being rested for precautionary reasons. The focus from here, while on winning, is primarily to get him back into the flow of the team.
Fast Forward: The next week is crucial for the Wizards heading into the playoffs. They have two serious playoff tests against Boston and Detroit, play Philadelphia in a seeding battle, and finish off with the Pacers.