NBA Weekly Review: Harden’s Rockets fire up
With a full week gone since the All-Star Break, teams are gearing up for the final stage of the season. What players are making their mark?
The race for the playoffs is well and truly on, and the cream of the crop are standing tall when their teams need them most. There was no shortage of stellar displays during Week 20, so let’s look at the dream-team line-up in our NBA weekly review.
Point guard – James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Another unbeaten week for James Harden and the Rockets as they grabbed three more wins, taking their winning streak to 15. Their mind-boggling consistency is showing Golden State that they won’t be able to just roll out of bed and sleepwalk to the number one seed in the Western Conference. The race for what will likely be crucial home advantage in the west is on.
Harden averaged 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game last week against three high-caliber teams in the Jazz, Clippers, and Celtics. He continues to roll on to the league’s most prestigious individual honor, the MVP.
Shooting guard – Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
A month into the season, the idea that Ben Simmons might not win Rookie of the Year seemed ludicrous. By now, it genuinely seems that Donovan Mitchell winning the award is a 50-50 proposition, such has been his rise.
Mitchell is in the peculiar situation of being a rookie and the focal point for a team making a genuine run at the playoffs. That’s one thing he has over Simmons, as the Australian doesn’t carry the scoring threat of his Utah counterpart while also having Joel Embiid to play with.
Mitchell averaged 23 points per game last week as the Jazz went 2-1 and was particularly dominant in the last quarter throughout the week.
Small forward – Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
The Warriors are unbeaten since the All-Star break and are eyeing a title defense after a rough start to the season (well, rough for them).
Kevin Durant was their scoring leader last week, averaging an imposing 27.3 points per game as the Warriors knocked off the Knicks, Wizards, and Hawks on an unblemished east coast trip. Durant’s incredibly efficient season continued as he shot 61.2% from the field, including an impressive 45.5% from behind the 3-point line.
Look out all, the NBA Finals MVP from last season is warming up as the business end of this campaign nears.
Power forward – Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Harden’s nearest MVP challenger continued his hot streak last week, as the New Orleans Pelicans extended their win streak to eight games. Their Anthony Davis-fuelled rampage has them back in the playoffs chatter, with an audacious home-court advantage in the first round getting closer.
Davis, the Kentucky alum, continues to avenge the loss of buddy and fallen comrade DeMarcus Cousins. The highlight of Davis’ week was a 53-point, 18-rebound game against Phoenix where every big on the opposing team fouled out trying to contain him. Seriously, the Suns had to field rookie Josh Jackson, a small forward by trade, at center.
Center – Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Embiid put on a clinic once again last week, boasting an average of 20.5 points and 11.3 rebounds. Most crucially though, he put in a great display during Philadelphia’s recruitment drive of LeBron James. Embiid was in fine form during the game, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as Philly ran out 11-point winners.
But, more importantly, he was seen sharing several laughs with James, as the city continues its not-so-subtle pursuit of The King. The team currently assembled in Philadelphia is scary enough already; it’s frightening to imagine what it would look like should Embiid’s recruiting endeavors pay off.
Who did we miss in our NBA weekly review? Comment below!