1. Two down, 14 to go
With a 108-90 victory over the Timberwolves last night, Phoenix won the Pacific Division and has now joined Dallas as the only other team to have secured a playoff spot. Kevin Garnett put up another monster effort for Minnesota but, as usual, he couldn’t get it done by himself and the Suns rolled despite getting only four points and two rebounds out of Amare Stoudemire as he sat on the bench for most of the game with foul trouble. This is the third consecutive division crown for Phoenix but despite their success they can’t seem to get past the Western Conference finals. But perhaps this is the year; the Suns are deeper than they have ever been and unlike last year they should have a healthy Stoudemire to provide the team with an inside presence when it comes time to slow the game down. Unfortunately, the West is as strong as it has ever been with Utah, San Antonio and Dallas all in contention for a Finals appearance.
2. Rocky Mountain roll
It might have taken a while for the dynamic scoring duo of Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony but the Nuggets are now the hottest team in the league after ripping off five wins in a row. Melo put up 30 in Denver’s first win in New Jersey since 2000 and the Nuggets got another 20 from the Answer as the team has finally established some breathing room between themselves and the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference. A lot will be determined about this team in the upcoming couple of weeks because the Nuggets have four games left on their current road trip against Chicago, Toronto, Detroit and Cleveland before they return home against a struggling Seattle club. Then they have to end the season with difficult games against Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, Utah and the Lakers.
3. Big Baby wants to play with the big boys
One year after former teammate Tyrus Thomas made the jump to the NBA, LSU big man Glen “Big Baby” Davis has made his decision to finally make the leap. The 6-9, 290 pounder will forgo his senior year after averaging 17.7 points and 10.4 rebounds and becoming the only player not named Shaq to amass 1,500 points, 900 rebounds and 100 blocks for the Tigers. Currently there’s no guarantee that Davis will be selected in the first round of the draft but if he wants to get paid some legitimate NBA money then he needs to solidify his first round position by performing well at the league’s predraft camp which is held in Orlando at the end of May. Any player selected in the first-round pick will receive a guaranteed three-year contract while second-round players are not so fortunate. Well, we know at least two players he won’t be picked ahead of.
Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Carlos Boozer vs. Golden State 38 min, 25 pts (FG: 11-18, FT: 3-4), 21 reb, 5 ast
Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Dallas (55-11) @ Cleveland (41-26) Both teams have the disadvantage of playing in games last night, however the Cavs will have the benefit of their home crowd cheering them on as opposed to Dallas who will be coming off short night’s rest at the local Radisson. LeBron James has his boys surging in the East and the Cavaliers now sit just 2 ½ games behind Detroit for the best record in the conference after winning nine of their last 11 games. Dallas is beginning to recover from a two game skid that was capped off with a heart breaker to the Suns in double OT last Wednesday. But the Mavs have bounced back and now have a three game win streak.
Buzzer Beater: How is that every single year Yao Ming is by far the most voted on player when the All-Star game rolls around but he can’t even top the jersey selling charts in his own country? In fact, Yao ranks sixth in jersey sells in China. Even his teammate Tracy McGrady is getting more love than Yao from the Chinese as his jersey was the third most purchased for the 2006-07 season but it is a drop from being the most popular jersey in China last year. So, who is the most popular NBA baller in China right now? Why Kobe Bryant of course, the Chinese just love his in-game Bruce Lee impersonations.