Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, February 17, 2017 at 11:40 AM
IT'S OUR NBA FIRST-HALF REPORT CARD GRADES - TODAY'S THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
Wanna have a little fun?
Add up the first-half-of-the-season records for the last two NBA champions - the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors - and you get a composite won/loss mark of 86-25 (a sizzling .775 winning rate).
Needless to say, the Cavs and "Dubs" once again appear to be on a collision course to meet in this year's NBA Finals for a third consecutive June but does that mean they're the only ones getting "straight A's" from the staff here at Jim Sez?
Hey, we'll answer that beginning with our annual look at the NBA's First-Half Grades but first this reminder as we zoom into this weekend's NBA All-Star Game break:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will continue to pile up the profits all this week/weekend with loads of NCAA Basketball and NBA All-Star Game Side/Totals winners right here online or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 - so go ahead and pound the books with hard court action today!
NBA MID-TERM REPORT CARD GRADES - THE EASTERN CONFERENCE
BOSTON (37-20) - The one-and-only Eastern Conference crew to snag our highest possible grade has been spectacular while led by MVP candidate G Isaiah Thomas (29.9 ppg, 6.3 apg) as head coach Brad Stevens has melded a batch of mix-and-match parts to make this the biggest in-conference threat to Cleveland. The C's are fun to watch, uber-dynamic on the offensive end of the floor (averaging 108.5 ppg) and have plenty of folks who know their role and do it well.
CLEVELAND (39-16) - Despite the occasional on- and off-court temper tantrums by megastar LeBron James (25.9 ppg, 8.8 apg) this Cavaliers crew gets high marks for sticking together despite a glut of injuries with the latest a bum knee that'll keep All-Star-to-be F Kevin Love out till May. P.S. give head coach Ty Lue some credit for steering this post-title ship, ok?
PHILADELPHIA (21-35) - Forget the lowly .375 winning rate, this here-and-now 76ers team has been one of the better stories in the NBA this year as much of the team's young talent (finally) is bubbling up to the surface and Philly's playing competitive ball on a nightly basis as evidenced by the league-best 34-22 ATS (against the spread) mark. "Trust The Process", indeed!
MIAMI (25-32) - Don't let the won/loss record fool you, this Heat crew has overachieved and head coach Erik Spoelstra deserves major kudos. If C Hassan Whiteside (14.1 rpg) isn't the hardest working man in the NBA, then we don't know who is!
WASHINGTON (34-21) - This Wizards team staggered out of the starting gate with a 2-8 SU (straight-up) record and looked lost but super-quick PG John Wall (22.9 ppg) and sidekick G Bradley Beal (22.3 ppg) have powered up their respective games and are even getting better in the clutch.
TORONTO (33-24) - Gotta admit the Raptors have been a tad underwhelming after playing nearly 70 percent of their regular-season games and, yes, we realize star G DeMar DeRozan (27.3 ppg) missed a handful of games recently.
ATLANTA (32-24) - We'll give still-underrated head coach Mike Budenholzer some love here for keeping things together while the Hawks chop up their roster with trades but highlight of this season was 4-OT home win against New York, right?
INDIANA (29-28) - The Pacers have really regressed the past couple of weeks (see six-game losing heading out of Thursday night's game against Washington) and the team's defensive slide has been troubling (rank 21st in the NBA in points allowed).
ORLANDO (21-37) - Nobody expected any glory-filled season for the Magic who might be playing a bit below the mark considering new coach Frank Vogel does possess some young gems including G Evan Fournier (16.8 ppg) and C Nikola Vucevic (10 rpg). Was trading Serge Ibaka to Toronto the right move? Probably.
MILWAUKEE (25-30) - Let's state our case that do-it-all star Giannis Antetokounmpo (23.4 ppg/8.6 rpg/5.5 apg) is one of the league's top three or four most exciting players around but what's happened to the rest of this roster (not including the now-injured Jabari Parker)? Time for head coach Jason Kidd to take some hits as the Bucks should be better than a .500 home team.
CHARLOTTE (24-32) - Talk about a major nosedive while heading into the All-Star Game break as the Hornets have dropped nine of the last 10 games and even G Kemba Walker (22.5 ppg) has struggled this month save for Wednesday's 24-point showing in a loss-but-cover (and Jim Hurley Network Winner!) at 6-point fav Toronto.
DETROIT (27-30) - Prior to the start of the season, we thought the Pistons would be in the hunt for the second- or third playoff seed in the East but instead over-emotional head coach Stan Van Gundy's club is the picture of inconsistency with an offense ranked 25th in the league.
NEW YORK (23-34) - The soap opera that is the Knicks and all the off-the-court junk from President Phil Jackson's silly tweets to the never-ending Carmelo Anthony trade rumors to the Charles Oakley Saga has made this a miserable hoops season in the Big Apple. P.S., does first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek even have a clue?
CHICAGO (28-29) - The Bulls have been an absolute mess and right now they're just barely squeezing into the mediocre playoff mix ... maybe G Jimmy Butler (24.4 ppg) can "grow up" before this season ends?
BROOKLYN (9-47) - The Nets enter the break on a 14-game losing streak and seemingly have not won a home game since Halloween! The truth is this franchise is paying for the dopey trades with Boston a couple of years back and may be paying for said trades for another couple of years. "Brooklyn in the house?" Maybe it's time to tear down the house then ... an abominable franchise!
NOTE: Get our NBA Western Conference Report Card Grades in the next edition of Jim Sez.