NBA 2020: This Week In Hoops 2/15, Part 1

(originally written 2/15/20)

The NBA season is 70% complete; loads went down these past seven days. Here’s what you need to know—and I promise you’ll want to know some of this:

 

ATLANTIC DIVISION (Raptors 40-15, Celtics 38-16, 76ers 34-21, Nets 25-28, Knicks 17-38)

Toronto began the week by extending its franchise-record win streak to 15 by dropping 137 points on lowly Minnesota despite the absence of F Serge Ibaka (flu); Raptors starters combined for 123 of those points, another team record. The streak came to a crashing halt on 2/12 behind 38% shooting at Brooklyn. C Marc Gasol (hamstring) remains out...The Celtics extended their win streak to seven games 2/9 before falling to Houston two days later. Then, in a double OT thriller, F Jayson Tatum stole the show with a 39-point effort that sank the visiting Clippers. G Kemba Walker shot 5-of-17 in each of the final two games of the week.

Philadelphia's Furkan Korkmaz combined to score 65 points on 2/7 and 2/9...only to put up a big, fat ZERO in 23 minutes 2/11 vs. the Clippers. Still, the 76ers—who continue to baffle on the road (9-19) while dominating at home (25-2)—went 2-0 this week and hold on to the 5th spot in the East even as C Joel Embiid's behavior drew a few boos at home. C Al Horford didn't start 2/11, the first time since 2007 he's come off the bench.


Despite missing G Kyrie Irving (knee), Brooklyn held on to the 7th spot in the East with a 2-0 week. Spencer Dinwiddie sank a clutch J with 5.2 left to beat the Pacers 2/10, then the Nets ended Toronto's 15-game win streak; it was their own fifth straight home win...New York lost twice, including a double-overtime loss at Atlanta that the Knicks led by 16 in the 4Q. F Bobby Portis was tossed 2/12 for hitting Washington's Shabazz Napier in the back with a dead ball.
 

CENTRAL DIVISION (Bucks 46-8, Pacers 32-23, Bulls 19-36, Pistons 19-38, Cavaliers 14-40)

Milwaukee played the week without new father Giannis Antetokounmpo; he was not missed 2/10 vs. Sacramento as G Eric Bledsoe and F Khris Middleton dropped 28 each in the "Cream City" jerseys. However, the duo struggled mightily at Indiana two nights later as the Bucks absorbed their eighth loss. Free-agent F Marvin Williams, late of the Hornets, was signed and played 20 minutes against the Pacers.


Indiana's losing streak grew to six games on 2/10 vs. Brooklyn, but they got back on track playing the Giannis-less Bucks two nights later. F T.J. Warren dropped 35 on 16-of-19 in that clash as the Pacers, who led by 25 in the first half, won 118-111...Chicago, playing shorthanded, went 0-2 this week, falling at Philadelphia and Washington to extend their losing skid to six games. Still, G Zach LaVine shined, scoring 73 points combined with 13 threes made.


G Reggie Jackson endured a nightmare shooting week for Detroit (7-for-27 in two losses), although he did knock down a three to force overtime at Orlando 2/12. The whole team stunk up the gym 2/10 vs. Charlotte (35% FG, 20% on threes) and tallied just 76 points. G Derrick Rose (adductor) returned 2/12 to boost the woeful offense—only to go 1-for-13 at Orlando...Cleveland, after taking its worst home loss ever 2/9 vs. the Clippers (133-92), trounced visiting Atlanta without F Kevin Love (Achilles) 2/12. In the win, C Tristan Thompson scored 27 off the bench...including three threes!

 

SOUTHEAST DIVISION (Heat 35-19, Magic 24-31, Wizards 20-33, Hornets 18-36, Hawks 15-41)

The big news out of Miami was the trade acquisition of F Andre Iguodala from Memphis (and the addition-by-subtraction of G Dion Waiters). Unfortunately, the veteran's presence did not translate to instant victories, as Miami fell in two of three contests—the lone win coming against Iguodala's old Warriors squad 2/10. On 2/12 at Utah, all 13 of G Duncan Robinson's field goal attempts were threes (he made six).
Orlando, #8 in the East but #1 in the NBA in points allowed per game, gave up 126 to the Hawks 2/10 but won anyway thanks to a 79-point second half. They very nearly squandered a 22-point lead vs. Detroit two days later, but pulled out the win in overtime. G D.J. Augustin (knee) remained out.


The Wizards won two of three during the week, as Bradley Beal racked up 86 points. New York made them sweat a bit 2/12, but a 34-19 game-closing run sealed the victory. It may interest you that in their 2/9 loss to the Grizzlies, Washington turned the ball over just seven times—but holding on to it proved equally rough, considering they shot 35% and just 7-for-33 on threes.


On 2/10, the Hornets snapped a five-game skid by holding Detroit to 76 points (fortunate, considering they only shot 38% themselves). They then upended Minnesota on the road behind 28 from Devonte Graham and 25 from Malik Monk off the bench...Atlanta outlasted New York in double overtime 2/9; G Trae Young's 48 led the way. Young continued to score at a high rate (3rd in the NBA with 29.7 PPG) but his 15-win team then dropped road games at Orlando and Cleveland. Trade acquistion Clint Capela (plantar fasciitis) has yet to debut for the Hawks.

(If this hasn’t put you to sleep yet, continue to Part 2: Western Conference.)