Monday Morning Compendium

It’s almost playoff time, which means I need to get my random thoughts bullet writing ass back in gear. And since I’m handling weekend duties over at ProBasketballTalk.com, I watched quite a bit of ball this weekend.

  • Let’s start with Tyreke Evans. I saw his line last night, and checked STR for the Reke-O-Meter. Evans has been on a rebounding tear, and now needs to average less than his current average in order to clear the mythical 20-5-5.  I’m a little shocked why this race has not gotten more attention. It’s a set of requirements that puts Evans in a group with Robertson, Jordan, and LeBron James, along with Charlie Scott. And Evans is not just within sight of it. He’s got a comfortable lead in assists (but no, really, he’s not a real point guard, yank-yank). Scoring is unlikely to be the issue. And he’s picked up his rebounding. This is something truly phenomenal, and he’s way ahead of his competitors for rookie of the year. I expected Evans to be good. I did not expect him to be this good.
  • In other stat-related news, guess who’s within range of another 50-40-90 season? Steve Nash, and it’s pretty comfortable. So is Nicolas Batum, but the kid missed too many games for it to be relevant. Nash, though, has been ridiculous . He’ll also be the oldest player to accomplish it since… himself, last year. An absolutely outstanding achievement.
  • Speaking of the Suns, anyone caught Amar’e lately? This is the close I’ve seen him look to his “proper self” pre-Shaq since Shaq arrived. If the playoffs started today the Suns would play Dallas, which would be basketball cocaine. Also, I don’t think the Suns are a good matchup for Utah at all. They Jazz are 2-0 versus the Suns, but the Suns’ unstable style of play could cause them fits. However, it should be noted that Utah has a ridiculously easy stretch coming up, with six of their next ten against lottery teams, and the Hornets (probably lottery) and Toronto (possible lottery) thrown in. Their “tough game” from now till April is Boston. Insert joke here.
  • Speaking of Boston, loved Freek’s work on the Boston-Cleveland game yesterday:
  • Paroxi-wife asked me what I thought about Jamison fitting in, and I said I think it’s actually working great, despite his shooting percentages. He’s doing what he needs to do, which is spread the floor and then crash inside. The number of at-rim shots he had lip out yesterday was I think four. If Boston wants to keep leaving him open on the perimeter, that’s not a good idea either.
  • On the C’s, when did this team stop closing out on the perimeter? We’re not talking a half-ass effort, we’re talking them being a step behind to where they’re not even trying because they know they can’t get there. It’s a significant problem. The Magic have taught teams that if they make the extra pass, they’re going to get an open three. And that’s a high percentage look for a lot of teams in the playoffs.
  • What’s worse for the Celtics is they were barraged for 40 minutes by the other Cavs, and when they finally started to clamp down, James took over and just drove relentlessly, picking up foul after foul. There was nothing they could do. At one point Perkins was trying to check James. PERKINS. AT MID-RANGE. TRYING TO CHECK. LE.BRON. And every time the Celtics would hit a three to pull the lead to ten, there’d go LeBron, right to the rim, feasting on old legs with his fresh ones. He didn’t have to carry that team for 40 minutes, which meant he could for the final eight. Terrifying.
  • The Thunder keep blowing my mind with their defense. The offense I expect. Russell Westbrook is capable of 30 and 11. He’s just that good. Durant is a known quantity and the rest of the team is solid-to-good. But the defense? For guys that young to be playing with that kind of dedication? They swarm to the ball on penetration, and recover as fast as any team, because of those fresh legs. They’re rarely caught in mismatches, and they surge so strong, it’s like waves coming over the bow. The inexperience makes them a favorable first-round matchup, but the talent and execution make you think twice.
  • I’ve watched four Nets games this week. That’s a lot for one of the “worst” teams in history. I’ve been saying it, and I will continue to say it. They are just not that bad. Incomplete? Definitely. Young? Definitely? Terrible bench? Absolutely. But there is a lot of legit talent on that team, including Courtney Lee, who’s going to be a serviceable starting small guard for years, at a position that’s tough to find talent you can reasonably pay. And Terrence Williams is playing in a relevant, meaningful way for an irrelevant, meaningless team.
  • I can’t watch the Raptors anymore. I just can’t do it. Can’t watch that defense any longer. They and the Warriors have gotten me to the point it makes me physically sick to watch them play basketball, which is sad, because I like a lot of their talent.
  • It’s really early after a fairly impressive win streak, but I just want to say, I can already see the same late-season cracks in the Utah pavement that I saw last year. They’ve been better this year than they were last year, but I still wanted to get this in writing that I’m seeing some fault lines developing.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.