The league is settling into the rhythm of the season. Good teams are pulling away, bad teams are settling down. That’s why it’s surprising that Minnesota is still .500 and Phoenix and Portland are still playoff teams. That New York and Brooklyn are still terrible. Those storylines have dominated the “trending” for a while. This week, new faces have risen to the top of our media subconscious.
As you may know, at Trending Hoops, we don’t rank teams by power, skill, or ability to win a championship. We rank teams by buzz they generate, relative to the market they are in (otherwise L.A. would always be #1). With no further ado:
1. Miami Heat
Lebron’s Birthday win, an assortment of injuries, an all-galaxy game from Chris Bosh–the Heat are trending this week. Loved Lebron’s celebration of Bosh’s game winning shot. Beating the league best team without your best player: that’s cause for celebration.
Amidst all of this–they are 8-2 in their last ten and have somehow shrunken Indiana’s grip on the 1 seed to just one game. It’s been lost a little in the electric starts of four other teams, but in a normal year–Miami has raced out of the gate. Especially when you consider they were 4-3 at one point. Their previous best start in franchise history was 20-7. This year they landed at 20-6 and have stretched the “best start in franchise history” out to 24-7 so far; on pace for 60+ wins.
The video bombing continues–it feels more like Lebron, D-Wade, and Chris Bosh are running their own youtube channel than a genuine shock that they crashed yet another TV interview.
Eh…they’ve done better…but still love the camaraderie.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Riding high as they prepare to face the once league leading Trailblazers. No Russ: no fuss. KD is now styling as a teacher/mentor/dominator of the league and the Thunder keep rolling. Portland is the last “top tier” opponent for OKC for over two weeks (Golden State Jan. 17)–though @Denver and @Minnesota won’t be cakewalks during that stretch. Still, I hold out a drunk gamblers hope for the Thunder to storm their way to 35-6 and regain the pace for 70 wins.
3. Portland Trailblazers
Everyone tried to jump on the “I called it” bandwagon about a week ago, claiming the Blazers ridiculous clutch-ness (9-1) was unsustainable. Alas–they were right. Downed by the Heat and Pelicans in succession in the last 10 seconds. Now the Trailblazers top our “trending for the wrong reasons” list. Dragged by the NBA schedule makers into OKC on the 2nd night of a back to back…we’ll see what this team is made of. My guess…they’re ballers.
4. Golden State Warriors
Did they really just beat the Clippers by having two different guys fight Blake Griffin? Seriously? Pretty much everyone knows the league’s “double technical” policy for fights where no punches are thrown. The Warriors used that knowledge to get Griffin booted. The NBA even came out and said Griffin should not have been ejected. WOW. Mark Jackson should be suspended.
And then there’s the other side of me that thinks that was AMAZING on the level of Jason Kidd spilling his drink or Reggie Miller kicking his leg out every time he was “fouled” shooting a three.
Anyways, Golden State has won 5 in a row. Steph Curry almost had two triple doubles in one week. Cha-ching. Marc Stein pointed out that the Warriors starting 5 is 15-3 this year. That’s terrifying.
Couldn’t agree more. The dude is third right now. (To be fair, Kobe is first and that’s just dumb. Dumb Laker fans.)
5. Toronto Raptors
Did the Raptors really just go into OKC and Dallas and win? I thought the East was supposed to stink. The only Raptor in shouting distance of an all-star birth is Demar Derozan, at 10th on the backcourt list. The Raptors are rising and playing great without their “star” of Rudy Gay.
All this may be moot in a week or two after the Raps play the Pacers twice, play @Miami, @Washington, and then host Detroit. They may lose five straight after tonight’s Bulls game.
Still, take notice, the Raptors are a pretty decent team.
The new face of the Toronto Raptors: