By: Adam Pasternak
NBA Chatter is SportsNak’s weekly NBA feature, discussing the past week’s hottest topics in the association. Look for new editions every Sunday/Monday to get your basketball fix!
This week in the NBA was a bitter-sweet one, as NBA legend Kobe Bryant announced that this season would be his last. After watching him play the Raptors last week, I honestly was not surprised. He’s played 19 seasons, and is in his 20th as we speak. That’s a lot of wear and tear on a player who works so hard and so often, and who usually plays deep into the postseason. Another aging shooting guard who plays for the Indiana Pacers, C.J Miles, has looked like the opposite this year. This past week we saw him shoot lights-out from behind the arc and it really was amazing to watch. The East has been tight this year, and it looks like most of the teams have improved to create a close fight for a playoff spot this year.
Kobe Bryant Calls it Quits:
Kobe Bryant announced that he will retire at seasons end, yesterday. It wasn’t necessarily a shock, but at the same time it was hard to believe that a player with his compete level and work ethic was not going to keep trying. I think he made the right decision, as it is actually almost sad to watch him play so far this year. He just does not have the same mobility that he did when he was younger. His legs are pretty much done and there is no need to drag on what has been a legendary career. I want to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about what I think of Kobe as a player and his career. When I was younger, I watched Kobe and the Lakers compete in three straight finals appearances, winning two. For three straight years, I watched the most dominate player at the time fight it out until the very end. Watching Kobe play in the playoffs inspired me to start playing basketball myself. I used to pretend to shoot a ball in the mirror, making sure my form looked like Kobe’s. He was basketball to me, at the time. His battles with the Celtics and Orlando were as exciting as any finals I have been alive to watch. He was the most clutch player in the game, hitting game winner after game winner, no matter the defender or the difficulty of the shot. His winner over Ray Allen and the Celtics will forever be in my memory, as well as his dagger against the Raptors a few years ago when it looked like the Raps might finally get a win against the then dominant Lakers. I missed the Jordan era by a few years, but I am very thankful that I got to witness the second coming in Kobe Bryant.
C.J Miles is Lethal From Three:
This week, C.J Miles stepped up for the Pacers and helped them win 5 games, if you include last night’s win in L.A. He’s had multiple games where he’s shot over 50% from three, and a few where he was a little under but still made enough to contribute. Take a look at the picture below at his week (Monday – Friday):
His most impressive game was obviously his 32 point performance against Washington, where he went 8-9 from deep. Earlier in the week though, he had back to back games with at least 4 triples made and shot 62% and 57% from three in his games on Monday and Wednesday respectively. His minutes have also gone up, playing 30+ minutes in 3 out of 5 games this week. He has been a surprising contributor to the Pacers this season, but they need his production and complimentary play to continue alongside Paul George in order for Indiana to stay in the playoff race. I did not expect Indiana to be 11-5 and sitting in second place in the East at the start of the year, but they have gotten good numbers out of guys who weren’t expected to produce much. It will be interesting to see if Miles and the Pacers can keep their great play going throughout the rest of the season.
The East is Deeper Then People Think:
As you can see from the image above, essentially every team in the East except for the Philadelphia 76ers have a shot at making the playoffs. It’s early, but the teams are all so close together. Teams that were not predicted to play well, have played well so far this year. The Magic have been playing above expectations so far and are currently sitting in 8th place, and right behind them are the over-achieving Boston Celtics. It truly is fantastic for the game of basketball to have two conferences with high level competition. The East is a little more scrappy than the West, but it is definitely competitive. In previous years this was not the case. The East was always looked at as the less-competitive conference. The LeBron-led Heat reigned supreme at the time, and from there the rest was a toss up. The Pacers had a good run once, the Raps the next year, but there were always sub .500 teams making the playoffs in the 7th and 8th spots. The first rounds for the Heat were just like practice; it was a waste of time. Now with the improved teams and the new seeding format for the playoffs, the East has at times this season looked better then the West. As a basketball fan, it is nice to see, but at the same time, I am a Raptors fan and I want them to do well! It looks like other teams are developing a bit faster and so for this reason I’m not all that thrilled. It’s going to be fun to see how the rest of the season plays out and to see if any teams will drop, or improve and move up.
That wraps things up for this weeks NBA Chatter. Thanks for reading and be sure to comment your thoughts below and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!