Rising in the midst of adversity
Eastern Conference - FOR most franchises, receiving the news that you will be losing your best player to the 'sick ward' for an indefinite period would send them into a state of panic. That being said, the Boston Celtics are not a team that can be played in that category.
Like the Chicago Bulls who have been superb in the absence of Derrick Rose, the Celtics have put together a run of four consecutive victories, starting with a hard-fought win over the Miami Heat the evening they were told by the medical staff that Rajon Rondo injured his anterior cruciate ligament and will play no further part in the season. They now have a record of 24-23.
Speaking of the Bulls, they have now overtaken the Brooklyn Nets for third place in the conference behind the leading pair of the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks. There continues to be chatter surrounding Rose's return to the rotation and this will for sure boost their run as the season wears on.
After seeing the injury to Rondo, the Philadelphia 76ers would have hoped that the Celtics' form was opposite to what it is now, but they are still maintaining an outside chance after clinching back-to-back wins to close the week. They are five games behind the Celtics with a record of 20-26.
The Knicks have been in fine form over the past week, and proved that they are indeed contenders for the Eastern Conference top spot as they made a mockery of the Sacramento Kings in a 120-81 drubbing. The Knicks scored 97 points in the first three quarters and were able to rest their starters and watch as the clock ticked away on another impressive showing. Their record now stands at 30-15 thanks to a four-game winning streak.
Spurs on top
Western Conference - THE wins keep coming for the seemingly flawless squad of the San Antonio Spurs. With a 96-86 win over the Washington Wizards, they extended their winning run to 10 games, widening the gap for top spot ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers who both closed the week on a losing note. Things were not all peachy for the Spurs, however, as Tim Duncan sprained his right ankle and left knee in the second quarter of the game and had to lifted off the court by his teammates.
Travelling to Cleveland, the Thunder would have thought that a win would be nothing short of what they would leave with, but that was not the case as Kyrie Irving continues his Jeremy Lin-esque run of unstoppable form. The point guard -- who will be lacing up as an All-Star in a couple weeks- scored 35 points (including 13 in the final three minutes of action) to power the Cavaliers to a 115-110 win over Kevin Durant and company.
The Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets have extended their winning streaks to four and six respectively, making the competition among the top runners a lot more than eye-catching. With respective records of 30-17 and 30-18, both teams are locked in a battle with the Memphis Grizzlies who have a 30-16 record for third place in the conference. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, two of these three teams will be squaring of come play-off time, and without a doubt, what ever the match-up, they should serve as the most competitive first-round series across both conferences.