East The Beast?
Is it happening right in front of our eyes or is it an early season fluke? Eastern Conference looks rock solid with the top four teams named Raptors, Bucks, Pacers and 76ers.
Toronto (13-4) strong as expected with a healthy Kawhi Leonard leading the team in points, rebounds and of course steals. Personally I think he is a bit odd, very robotic moving around the court and when I heard him laugh in an interview recently I got really scared, check it out for yourself.
Toronto plays small ball this year with new coach Nick Nurse starting Serge Obaka at nr.5 which has elevated his game big time, better FG pct and a lot of blocks, he looks like the old himself again, great news for Toronto just as Kyle Lowry being a DD machine on a nightly basis.
Bucks (12-4) also with a new coach playing the modern style of basketball surrounding the Greek Freak with shooters, it works! Giannis is doing his thing leading the team in points, rebounds and steals. Of course it helps when three of your starters shooting around 42% behind the arc! First guy from the bench, Ersan Ilyasova is shooting 39% and if that does not work out let´s give Tony Snell a look at the basket (44%). Giannis 25,9 ppg is NOT shooting the three well at 10,5%, ouch, but then he does not need to for his team to win.
Pacers (11-6) are the Pacers, you kind of like them but you do not want to watch them play, probably an old Paul George thing, never liked to watch him. Now when he is gone and Victor Oladipo is running the show they are more fun to watch, I think… One reason to check out the Pacers is to get a look at Domantas Sabonis, son of legend Arvydas Sabonis (born in Kaunas, Lithuania). He is playing great this season usually coming of the bench for starting Myles Turner, but that could change.
Philly (12-7) Traded Covington and Saric, both starters but got Jimmy Butler from Timberwolves in exchange, good for both teams I think. Joel Embiid is a monster with 27,9 ppg, 13,1 rpg and 2,1 bpg. Sharpshooter JJ Redick is on a tear, looks ultra-confident firing at will. The good thing for 76ers with the trade is that the experiment with second year (almost rookie) nr.1 pick Markelle Fultz in the starting five is over. The chemistry is now much better with him out of the way leaving all the ball-handling duties to Ben Simmons. Fultz can play but he can´t shoot (at the moment?) so for him it is also better to take control of the second unit and build from there. Butler starts of course and then Muscala or Chandler at PF, looks great to me. Rookie Landry Shamet (Wichita State) looking good as a 6´5” shooter but he can also take it to the hoop.
Good but not that good: Detroit (boring), Orlando a surprise this year with big guy Vucevic playing out of his mind at the moment, Vuc is shooting 45% from deep at the moment scoring 20,4 ppg and grabbing 10,8 rpg. He wants to play the same style of basketball as Al Horford (Boston) and he is doing that but just a lot better, for now at least. Charlotte got Kemba but even a 60 point outburst the other day from him got them a win, he needs some HELP! Brooklyn is playing good basketball this season, they lost my favorit attack player Caris LeVert to a sick foot injury that looked like a sure one year rehab, but it now seems like he might be back in a couple of months, get better soon Caris!
Ugly: Miami (zzzzzzzzz), Wizards (disaster) only cool thing with the Wiz is that Kelly Oubre Jr seems to be angry this year, check out his nasty dunks, Chicago (defense anyone?) Knicks (please…) Hawks (Tank attack!) Cavs (no one cares anymore, almost feel sorry for them, naaa)
Ugliest, tada: Boston Celtics (9-8) looks really awful most of the time even though Kyrie is back and putting up numbers. With all their youth they look, old… The passion is not there and sliding in Gordon Hayward in the starting five seems to be a struggle, other than that they have a stacked rooster that is not playing well, who to blame. Could it be Coach (guru, wizard) Brad Stevens fault? Youngsters like Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are struggling heavily and Jayson Tatum is not at his level from last season, Al Horford, nope. I would say Kyrie, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes are playing at a high level but the rest of the team needs to shape up, now.