Its time to start focusing on the playoffs and our potential roadblocks to Banner 18. Every day we'll bring you what's making news in enemy territory. This way we know what they're up to when it comes time to take 'em out.
Sentinel: Stan Van Gundy didn’t mince words when asked whether the Atlanta Hawks will present a tougher postseason matchup this year than they did last May. “If you watched the game today, they’re better than us right now,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. I go by things like that. It doesn’t mean they will be in the playoffs. I don’t think we’re afraid to play ’em or anything, but if a team beats you three out of four, you’ve got to say they’re better than you are.”
Magic Basketball: In a first round playoff preview between rivals from the Southeast Division, the Atlanta Hawks were able to defeat the Orlando Magic by the score of 85-82. With the victory, the Hawks win the season series 3-1 — a complete reversal of fortune from the previous season when the Magic had their way against them in the regular season and the postseason.
Hot Hot Hoops: Chris Bosh once again took part in the offensive alongside Wade and Bosh, all three combining for 94 of the Heat’s 123 points (tied their season high). Miami’s tenacious defense was not as omnipotent as it can be — allowing Washington to shoot close to 50% from the field and 56% from beyond-the-arc — but enough to subdue and outscore them over 48 minutes.
Peninsula is Mightier: Once again, the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards showed that there is definitely some bad blood between these clubs on opposite sides of the standings. Number one draft pick, John Wall, was ejected after taking a swing at Miami center Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the second quarter. The Heat won in a game that should not have been this close. Coming off the heals of the loss in Cleveland the night before, a 123-107 victory against an 18-56 squad was not the confidence-builder Spoelstra undoubtedly had in mind.
By The Horns: There’s not too much to say about this one. The Timberwolves have the worst record in the West. The Bulls have the best record in the East and demonstrated the kind of statistical domination you’d expect. This game was the NBA equivalent of somebody casually swatting a fly.
ESPN Chicago: Derrick Rose finally said what every Bulls fan has been thinking as it pertains to Carlos Boozer and his production when Joakim Noah is not on the floor. "He's way more aggressive," Rose said after Boozer dropped 24 points and 14 rebounds on Wednesday night in a 108-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I think he changed the game totally, where his double teams, you could definitely throw the ball into him in the post and let him do him. When people double team him it opens up everything on the court."
Project Spurs: Tonight the San Antonio Spurs will face the Boston Celtics in what could be an NBA Finals preview. However, with the injury bug hitting the Spurs, will San Antonio trot out a full roster against Boston? Check out the video to see the Spurs' "Big Three" practicing, what Tony Parker had to say, Celtics' coach Doc Rivers talks about the heath of his team, and more.
Project Spurs: With the playoffs fast approaching, you may ask the question: who must step up for the San Antonio Spurs? The most obvious response from anyone (national media down to the local fan) would be Richard Jefferson. Jefferson is always the immediate scapegoat. He was a former all-star, yet that respectability diminished when he struggled to produce with the Spurs last season.
Forum Blue And Gold: Have you ever left a stadium with intentions of driving home, but the traffic cops forced you into a gridlock? You just wanted to make one right turn, but instead you were waved through and ended up in pure misery. Well, the defending champs are playing traffic cops on the hardwood since the All-Star break. The Lakers are routing frustrated opponents from high percentage shooting areas, and forcing them to jack up shots from BFE (beyond fifteen, every time).
ESPN LA: Wednesday in El Segundo it was reality for the Lakers. Among those inside the gym watching practice were Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima. (I suppose if any two people can be trusted not to reveal the game plan for Thursday's test against the Mavs, it's these guys.) Then, after the doors opened to the rest of us, the esteemed pairing was joined by a gaggle of production types filming Lamar Odom for his reality show.
ESPN Dallas: The Clippers couldn’t stop the former Miss Universe’s boyfriend. J.J. Barea, the proud beau of 2006 Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera, simply dominated the fourth quarter of a contest that was closer than the Mavs would have liked with a game against the Lakers less than 24 hours away. Barea had 16 of his 22 points in the final frame, allowing Jason Kidd to rest most of the quarter.
ESPN Dallas: [Jason Kidd] should have been done for the night once the Mavs opened up a 16-point lead over the Clippers midway through the quarter. That, however, was not the case. “I was hoping,” Kidd said with a smile as he iced his 38-year-old knees and feet in front of his locker. “Once I saw the game was under control, I wanted to get out of there. It would have been nice to have the whole fourth off.”
Daily Thunder: Don’t look now, but the Thunder played a fringe playoff contender on the road the way a top-four seed should in taking care of business Wednesday night in Phoenix. One night after nearly letting Golden State steal a game at the end of a long home stand in Oklahoma City, the Thunder slowly put its foot on the neck of the Suns and increased the pressure until it put the game away in the fourth quarter.
NewsOK: Reserve guard Nate Robinson said he “still has some work to do” before his game is back to form following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee March 4. He was activated Tuesday. During his time on the sideline, Robinson said he quickly built an appreciation for his new teammates. “They play so hard it reminds me of going to a gym and playing in a pickup game,” Robinson said. “You don't want to lose. You want to stay on the court all day, have the bragging rights, and that's how they play every night. That's special. That's something a lot of teams in this league don't have.”