NBA Daily Preview — A New (kind of) Landscape

The more things change, the more they stay the same

StatMuse.com

This year’s trade deadline was a lot of fun, but the final hours brought more disappointment than excitement. Boston didn’t make a big move, and the only trades that dripped down in the final minutes were relatively minor. And as last night’s games showed, the power structure around the league is mostly unchanged.

Look at this chart: the Houston Rockets took extremely calculated shot attempts in last night’s rout of the New Orleans Pelicans. This game doesn’t pass judgement on the Cousins trade or the future outlook on New Orleans this season, but it does remind us that the Rockets are really good. They made minor improvements at the deadline, and have only increased their prospects once the playoffs begin. Houston is still better than New Orleans.

And during the Clippers/Warriors game, Draymond Green once again played his heart out and kicked an opposing player. While he was doing that, Golden State dismantled the Clippers. Something else that stayed the same.

If the league’s power structure hasn’t changed (which I think is pretty clear), Boston’s indecision about trading for a star looms even larger. The biggest trade of the season — Cousins to New Orleans—doesn’t change the Western Conference playoff picture much, and the Celtics missed on the only real opportunity to change the East.

Predictions

More games tonight (thank goodness). I’m 2–0 for the week so far, and ESPN has two entertaining matchups tonight.

Boston at Toronto: Toronto

If you accept the premise that the Raptors will catch up to the Wizards by the end of the season, this game is probably a preview of the second round in the East. Boston will probably be favored in that series, but it should be close and Toronto upgraded a lot more during the deadline. At home, with fresh faces in the lineup, I like the Raptors.

San Antonio at LA Clippers: San Antonio

You know what’s rough? Playing Golden State and San Antonio on a back-to-back. Even home-court for the second game can’t make up for that. I think the Spurs will win this game, especially if Chris Paul still isn’t back. The Spurs continue their mad march toward the playoffs.

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