The Case for Calderon

A comment I left on my favorite Raptors blog, Raptors Lair, making the case for Calderon, All-Star:

I love the blog, but I’ll politely disagree.

Jose is a deserved All-Star. Hamilton has put up nice numbers on a top team, but I think Jose has meant far more to Toronto than Hamilton has to Detroit.

Season Averages

Hamilton: 19 points, 4 assists, 3 boards, and 1 steal, 50% from the field, 47% from three, and 1.89 turnovers/game.

Calderon: 12 points, 9 assists, 3 boards, 1 steal, 52% from the field, 45% from three, and 1.58 turnovers/game.

Both of them get you 3 boards, a steal, shoot above 50% from the floor and above 45% from three. A nice coincidence, making it look closer than it really is.

Where Jose Stands Out

Jose as a starter is getting 14 points and 10 assists a night. The only other point guards getting those numbers are also All-Stars (minus Deron Williams). As a starter, Jose’s averages easily eclipse Hamilton’s season averages.

Jose has a 5.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, currently the best in the NBA by a mile. What does Hamilton lead the NBA in? Nothing. The best he can do is 6th in three-point shooting, and Jose is 9th. Jose is also 3rd in free-throw percentage, and 5th in assists.

Finally, the most important consideration: who has meant more to their team? Jose has saved the Raps’ season – can Rip claim that sort of significance to the Pistons?

Thoughts?

Game Recap: Lakers 121, Raptors 101

Disgusting. The trade, the game, the refs, the dunks. In a very disappointing loss, the Raptors showed fight for three quarters before horrible calls, bad choices by Sam Mitchell and the Raptors, and a guy wearing the number “24″ took the game away.

First off, congratulations on the Lakers landing Gasol for basically nothing. In what can be considered an absolutely horribly one-sided trade, the Memphis Grizzlies basically got cap space for their best big man. The Lakers, on the other hand, rid themselves of a perennial turnover machine named Kwame Brown. In fact, not having Brown in the lineup probably helped the Lakers further in the win, as it allowed the Lakers to keep their turnovers to just five for the night.

On this night, though, it was the Kobe and Bargnani show. Just as Kobe got his calls for ticky-tack fouls, he also made a variety of incredible shots. To make matters worse, the Raptors kept playing him to shoot rather than drive, giving him the opportunity for several beautiful dunks throughout the game.  For a while, it looked like a flashback to two years ago as the Raptors had nothing in the interior that could stop Kobe.  Then the rest of the Lakers started making all their shots, and as a result, the Lakers put some distance against the Raptors.

Nevertheless, it’s just inexcusable that the Raptors, and especially Chris Bosh, did not receive the same kind of calls that Kobe was getting.  Within our own building, the Raptors tried to get the ball inside multiple times and were hammered every single time without a whistle.  On one particular occasion, Jose drove to the hoop and was ridden down by a Laker all the way, only to miss the shot and have no call go against him.  With another play, Jose was on the break, pulled up and got smacked in the back of the head as he laid in the basket.  Once again, no foul was called.  Surprisingly, the Raptors still managed get almost double the amount of shots LA was taking from the line.  Largely, this was due to the continued improved play of Andrea as he once again managed multiple trips to the free throw line.  Shooting a high percentage, and playing somewhat adequate defense, Andrea was the consistent bright spot of the night until Sam pulled in in the fourth.

The fourth was when things really came off, and the blame has to go with Sam on this one.  By going small against an already quicker, more athletic, and now bigger Lakers squad, the Raptors saw the Lakers run away with the game.  There’s just really no excuse for having Calderon, Dixon, Moon, Bosh, and Kapono on the floor at the same time.  First of all, none of these players were shooting well except for Kapono and Bargnani, and more importantly, this group would be very weak defensively against a guy like Bryant and taller guys like Odom.  The sad thing was, fans could see that Bosh was gassed before the end of the third, and yet, Nesterovic (playing an excellent first half) was nowhere to be seen to relieve Bosh.

Overall, this outing was a very disappointing loss.  The Raptors had every chance to take the lead at some point, but instead, allowed the Lakers to come back at every turn.  It’s this ability to constantly keep an opponent down in a close game that the Raptors had last year, but seem to lack this year.  People might want to talk about margin of victory and other stats such as those, but in the end, there’s a feeling from those teams that exude the confidence that they can win each and every single game.  That’s just not present in this year’s squad, and will continue to be the downfall for our boys in white and red.

Next Game:  Toronto @ Miami

Blogging with the Enemy: Forum Blue and Gold

We’re starting a new feature here at HoopsAddict.com. Bloggers have quickly become a great resource around the net and we’ll be trying to get in touch with the best blogs around the league as the Raptors play their respective teams.

Today, we have Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold.

Q: How has the loss of Andrew Bynum affected the Lakers?

Being without Bynum has turned this team into the squad Kobe feared last summer. Bynum has developed into the true second option on offense by taking that pressure off the streaky Odom, who when asked to win the game last night against the Pistons shot an airball. Tex Winter’s triangle offense that the Lakers run has one corner of the triangle in the low block, and Bynum has provided that — single cover him, and he can score on just about any big, double him, and he passes out well (and to double him you leave someone like Derek Fisher open). The other thing Bynum did well on offense was play off Kobe. He would come down and set a pick for Kobe out by the three point line, and when the two defenders did the smart thing and made sure Kobe didn’t drive past them for an easy basket Bynum would roll to the hoop for the lob and dunk. The help defender couldn’t rotate off of Bynum without paying a price, and that opened things up for all the Lakers who can drive the lane, such as Kobe, Odom, Fisher, Farmar, and Ariza.

But the bigger thing Bynum did was on the defensive end. He was a shot blocker in the paint who could also alter shots. That allowed the wing defenders to play tighter, jump passing lanes, and be more aggressive. When the Lakers play well, they are playing good defense, and Bynum had become a big part of that.

Q: Is Kwame Brown the Laker version of our former draft pick, Rafael Araujo? And will he ever become the player that GMs seem to want from him?

The worst thing to ever happen to Kwame was being drafted #1 and coming with all that hype. What we’ve learned over the years of watching guys come out of high school is that the ones who are really driven to improve (Kobe, KG, Jermaine O’Neal) become good players, but the ones who quickly become comfortable never reach that level. Kwame Brown is the latter. My suggestion is to read this story from Kevin Ding in the OC Register. The fact of the matter is, despite what is expected of him, Kwame is quite happy being who he is. And that is the role of a backup center in the NBA. You just can’t look at him as a #1 pick overall or as a guy who is making $9 mil this season. He should never have been asked to be that guy. He just is what he is, and that is pedestrian.

Q: What move do the Lakers need to make to get to the championship?

A little more maturity, allowing them to play better in tight situations. A little more depth and talent, particularly along the front line. More consistency. More Time. To stay healthy.

Now even with all of that, winning the West right now is all about match-ups. The Spurs can beat the Suns, yet struggle with Dallas. Phoenix has days where they look like they can’t be beat, then they lose to teams with good scoring centers. (They even lost to the T-Wolves because they couldn’t stop Al Jefferson.) Nobody is sure what the Hornets and Timberwolves will bring to the playoffs this season. It’s going to be interesting.

HoopsAddict.com would like to once again thank Kurt for his time. Please don’t forget to visit Forum Blue and Gold!

Just in, a Bonus Question:

Q: What are your thoughts on the Gasol Trade?
YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!! YES!!

On a more rational note (and, by the way, Laker fans are not rational right now, exuberance has run amok): Gasol is a great fit for the Lakers offense. He’ll play the four where he’ll get the ball in the high post or low post (depending on matchups), be asked to move without the ball (something he does well) and will get good looks inside and out. Gasol’s well-rounded Euro game is a great fit at the four for the Lakers offense. What are the knocks on
him?  He’s not an intimidator in the paint on defense and not great on the boards?  Well, with Bynum back he doesn’t have to be.

Think about the Lakers starting five once healthy: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum. Off the bench comes Vladamir Radmanovic, Luke Walton, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf for energy, Sasha Vujacic for shooting. That’s a title contender in a big way.

NBA Newsflash

Does Dallas Have ‘It’ This Season?
31-14, 11-11 on the road, 3rd in West

For whatever the reason, the Mavericks don’t seem to be as dominant as they have been the past few seasons even though they are currently the third seed in the Western conference. But, it’s probably because other teams such as the Blazers, Hornets and Lakers have all surpassed expectations laid upon them by the basketball pundits south of the border. This is probably a very good thing as a little adversity cannot hurt come playoff time, maybe they haven’t won anything yet because the Mavericks have not had to face any the past few seasons. Think about it, they were the cream of the crop last season and bowed out to Golden State in the quarter-finals. Maybe the Mavericks need an old-school point guard that helps everyone around him and just need to start (Jason) kidding around –if you catch my drift. If they do that, everything else will fall into place.

Kidd Rumours …Finally
11.3 PPG, 10.4 APG, 8.2 RPG

Well, it’s about damn time, don’t you think? To be honest, I had November 28th, 2007 circled on my calendar as the day I thought Jason Kidd would ask for a trade, no wonder I don’t win baby pools. Never the less, I digress (what does that word mean anyways? It sounds classy though), with Jason Kidd looking for a plane ticket out of New Jersey, it’s time they hit the lottery. There are no shortages of teams who can use a talent like Kidd, but there are very few teams who would be willing to trade for him whether it is because they don’t have the cap space or they don’t have the package of young players it would take. So far the rumoured destination is Dallas, and why not? Jason Kidd to play with an all-world talent in Dirk Nowitzki, can you say Larry O’Brien trophy? I am a huge fan of Devin Harris, but rarely do you get a chance to make this kind of move. Jason Kidd has triple-double potential every night, even when his shots aren’t falling consistently, and because of that his teammates would be far better off as well.

Spurs Ink Stoudamire, Raptors Miss out

Stoudamire: 7.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, 2.4 RPG
West: 6.9 PPG, 3.3 APG, 20 MPG

 

The Spurs have signed Damon Stoudamire to shore up their back court and what a good pickup it is. Quite a few teams were interested in Stoudamire and the Spurs lucked out once again. The allure of winning a championship was probably the reason Stoudamire chose the Spurs, and who wouldn’t? He is going to be a perfect fit there as he doesn’t have to be the go to guy as on any given night there will be four or five more formidable options. The Raptors weren’t able to snag him, but news out of the Raptors camp in the last couple of days is that TJ Ford is close to practicing again. Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell should probably ease him into the lineup when he does get back however, as you never know with his type of injury; because of that Toronto should still try to go out and get a point guard in case of emergency. I am suggesting Delonte West of the Sonics, he is apparently not happy in Seattle because of his playing time and because of that still hasn’t opened the boxes he brought with him from Boston. It is unclear what kind of role he would get in Toronto once Ford returns, but until then he can backup Jose Calderon and be a viable option at the 2-spot as he is a good shooter, something you can never have enough of.

Calderon Left Off All-Star Team
13.9 PPG, 10.1 APG, 51.6 FG% (As a Starter)

Staying with the Toronto theme, how sad is it that Jose Calderon was not named to the All-star team? Since TJ Ford went out of the lineup he has helped Toronto to a 13-10 record and is putting up stats not seen in the NBA for years. He gives it his all every night, gets on the nerve of opposing point guards, see Anthony Johnson of Atlanta, and oh yeah his shooting percentages are very good as well. What more is there to say? What are these coaches thinking? I am not exactly sure who I would leave off the Eastern team, it would have to be one of Richard Hamilton or Joe Johnson, but the point is this guy deserved to be there. The same people that are raged not to see him at the big game this season are generally the same group who weren’t happy that he wasn’t in the rookie-sophomore game last season in Las Vegas. I hate to say this, but he probably wasn’t selected because he isn’t a ‘household’ name yet in the NBA. Point is however, when you are putting up the numbers he is this season as a starter, it’s hard to agree with the decision made by the coaches.

Jose Calderon

All-Star Reserves, Jason Kidd, the Spurs, and the Hornets

East All-Star reserves: Jose Calderon got robbed by a masked man named Richard Hamilton, who undeservedly stole his spot. Calderon is one of the best guards in the NBA right now, while Hamilton is a solid player who benefits from being on a very good team. Unfortunately the coaches making the decisions missed seeing Calderon completely killing opposing defenses this season, or they decided that Jose is a backup shining while TJ Ford is out. Either way, the East are going to miss Calderon’s abilities in the game. Chris Bosh (check), Caron Butler (check), Paul Pierce (check), Joe Johnson (check), Chauncey Billups (check) and Antawn Jamieson (hmmm, barely).

West All-Star reserves: As I’m writing this, I notice that Henry has a list of snubs going on True Hoop, many of whom I don’t think deserved to be in N’awlins anyway. I like picking David West, simply because the game is in NO and they’re currently the best team in the West, but you’ve got some big, big names staying home. Baron Davis is an All-Star just as much (if not more) than Brandon Roy right now. I admit that Roy has been truly great at times, but Baron is finally playing great in the regular-season, injury-free. I don’t have a major issue with Ginobli or Tony Parker right now. I don’t think Deron Williams is more deserving than Baron, Nash, or Chris Paul, so let’s not pretend that he’s been “snubbed”. An All-Star game without Shawn Marion or T-Mac will be far less of an air show than usual years.

Jason Kidd: First of all, the Nets have been trying to trade Jason Kidd for years. Remember the Lakers/Bynum deal that the Lakers (smartly) turned down? Kidd coming out and requesting (not demanding) a trade is not a shock to the system. He has wanted out of Jersey for a while, and the Nets have tried to accomodate him, but found few suitors. He’s spent the past season or two on the block, so what’s the harm in forcing the Nets hand? Only good can come of this.

Still on the subject of Jason Kidd, when did he become the Vida Guerra of the NBA? Everyone wants him. The Lakers, the Cavs, the Mavericks, the Blazers, the Nuggets (well, they should be, if they aren’t) and probably half the NBA have called up New Jersey to inquire about him. So what’s going to happen? Is Kidd going to get traded? Let’s consider how much he makes, according to HoopsHype. Off the top of my head, I’d bet that Shaq and KG make more, and likely Kobe. The result: I forgot Michael Finley (we forget that he’s getting paid by two teams, the Mavs and Spurs), Stephon Marbury (which is unfortunate for all but Stephon) and Allen Iverson, who probably still earns it. Oh, and of course, they all make around $20 million a season. Kidd is on the hook for next season, too, at approximately $22 million. My thoughts: you’d better be planning on winning a championship before next season is up because Jason Kidd is gunning for one final contract, probably at a slightly lower rate but still at a significant price for an over-the-hill point god.

So where is Kidd going? Anywhere? Thanks to LeBron and his straight-talk (“It’s that easy,” said James, referring to a James+Kidd=championship equation), I can see him going to Cleveland for a package that includes Larry Hughes and some clean towels, or maybe Dallas for a few expiring contracts, but that’s about it. I don’t think too many teams can afford to trade for Kidd, so while a lot of calls are being placed, not a lot of wheeling-and-dealing is going on behind closed doors.

San Antonio: A few things happening in San Antonio of late, and none of them terrific. Fortunately, the Spurs don’t feel the need to celebrate in January – the prefer to wait until June to do that. They just added (still unofficial, I believe) former Raptor, Blazer, and Grizzly, Damon Stoudamire. At first, it felt like Michael Finley all over again. Upon further review, I think Stoudamire, while still a legitimate NBA player, isn’t quite all that he’s cracked up to be. If Sam Cassell were available, there’s no question that the Spurs would have picked him up instead (if the Celtics didn’t get him) and I could name about 10 point guards, back ups on other teams, who the Spurs could probably get right now for a nominal fee instead of Mighty Mouse. Wouldn’t they rather have Earl Watson? Earl Boykins? Brevin Knight? Chris Quinn? I could go on, but haven’t got the patience to search rosters for scrubs better than Stoudamire.

The reason Mighty Mouse is coming aboard is because the Spurs don’t have any insurance for Tony Parker, who recently went down for the next few weeks (minimum) with an ankle injury. The Spurs are on a 9-game road swing, and have been playing .500 basketball the past 20-odd games (they’re actually 11-12 of late), with losses to Seattle and Memphis during that span. There have been whispers – crazy, insane, looney tunes whispers that go by the name of John Hollinger – that the San Antonio Spurs could miss the playoffs. They’re hurting more now than they have ever been hurting in the regular season this century, and even though the Spurs care little for the regular season, they still win 60 games every year. At this point, they’re off that pace, with signs of them losing even more games as Parker heals and Stoudamire learns to run things. Hear me now: the San Antonio Spurs will not miss the playoffs this season. Short of a tragic “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” incident during a team meal, the San Antonio Spurs are not missing the playoffs. Period. STEPHEN A. SMITH. PERIOD. ANOTHER PERIOD!

New Orleans: The best team in the NBA, or the surprise team of the season? Neither. First, let’s address the “best team” meme of the past week: Let’s first remind ourselves that there are teams with better records than the Hornets, namely Boston, Detroit and Phoenix. They’ve had a good stretch, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that they’re not a top-tier team quite yet. Sure they’ll win 50+ games, but certainly not 60. Not in the second half of the season, when the Spurs, Suns and Mavs kick it into high gear.

Now, let’s address the “surprise of the NBA season” meme: huh? I can’t believe that I heard the PTI guys (it was actually Tony and Lebatard) talking about this team being a “surprise”. Let’s remember who the Hornets have: Chris Paul, one of the best PGs in the NBA, possibly the best right now; David West, as of ten minutes ago an All-Star; Tyson Chandler, a top-5 center in the NBA (in case you didn’t notice, getting New Orleans 12-12 every night while shooting 60% from the floor and he’s only 25!), and Peja is getting 15 points and shooting 45% from deep. Their bench (Morris Peterson, Rasual Butler, Jannero Pargo, Bobby Jackson, Melvin Ely…) is very good. This is not a surprise by any stretch. They haven’t surprised people who pay attention to the NBA, but I guess some people forget just how good a team can be when all their pieces are healthy. The past two seasons were riddled with injuries, so I can understand why they’re being labeled a surprise. But don’t let it happen again.

Game Recap: Raptors 122, Wizards 83

One hoarse throat, a Raptor Bobblehead and a nice, full, energetic arena later, the Toronto Raptors found themselves on the favorable end of a complete routing of the Washington Wizards. It wasn’t even close, and it makes you just wonder how the Raptors played so poorly only 24 hours ago? Was it the crowd consistently shouting “d-fence” (while I shouted “Re-bound” off beat) from the get go? Was it really just better shooting from a team that usually shoots great? Or was it just destiny that a depleted Wizards team was going to lose the tail end of a back to back?

Turns out the Raptors were just plain angry.

While there’s still no excuse for Tuesday’s let down, the complete team win on Wednesday, I’m sure, cleansed the palette for some.  For the second time in a week, the Raptors managed to hit for above 70% from beyond the arc, which is a ridiculous number for sure.  AP, Bargs, Juan Dixon, Jose, and Delfino all found the bottom of the basket from beyond.  Notice, though, that Jason Kapono didn’t make a single three last night.  That’s not to say he didn’t play well, but it’s pretty surprising that he didn’t even attempt one.   Nevertheless, it was easy to say that the entire team was extremely productive, but there are a few things to point out.  For one, Bosh didn’t seem aggressive during the game.  Yes, his shot was falling fairly consistently, and Rasho came in and gave lots of energy and help, but it was a matter of fortunate circumstance.  Bosh got to the line twice during the game and pulled down only four rebounds in just under 20 minutes of play, and to be honest took the night off.  Jamario, while it looked like he had a pretty efficient night, also had difficulties as he wasn’t putting a body on a man or going and attacking the rim with any consistency.

Still, it’s really just nitpicking at the details.  Juan Dixon showed for one night that he could be a pretty good point guard, which will be important as TJ Ford is slated to make his return soon, but not immediately.  With four very good steals, Juan showed that he could be active on the defensive end as well as make some good decisions on the offensive side of things.   Bargnani managed to get fouled consistently and drive to the basket before shooting the lights out from beyond the arc.  Finally, every Raptor managed to pick up a rebound except for Juan Dixon, so there was at least some kind of effort to crash the glass for the entire game.

Was this a “statement game” as that guy Paul Johnson said on the air? Sure, but the statement seems to be “We can beat up a depleted team that beat us up the day before.”  It’s a bare minimum to expect from our Raptors team, but it still hasn’t washed the bad taste from our mouths from the effort in Washington.  This is a team that we’re chasing in the conference and to split a a pair of easily winnable games due to unfortunate injuries on the Wizard’s end could come back to haunt the Raptors.  Nevertheless, this win allows the Raptors to go into Friday’s game with some confidence and momentum and may have even given some GMs a look at the end-of-the-bench players on the squad that Bryan Colangelo is looking to parlay into a rebounding back up.  At the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for.

Next Game: Los Angeles (Lakers) @ Toronto

HoopsAddict.com’s Southeast Division Review – Jan. 30

You may recall that last year HoopsAddict.com was lucky enough to take a spot on About.com’s weekly division recap panel. Both Ryan McNeill and I took turns breaking down the woes and worries of the Atlantic Division, back before the Boston Celtics were even worth talking about. Well this year HoopsAddict.com is back, shedding light on the unpredictable Southeast Division. So if it’s the youth movement taking place in Atlanta that you’re interested, or you just like relishing in the fact that the Miami Heat (appear) to have fallen off for good, then be sure to check in every week.

ATLANTA HAWKS

Recap Rewind: The Atlanta Hawks continue to look like a team that has no business in the playoffs, which is disappointing considering their relatively awesome start to the season. This week the Hawks dropped games on the road in Denver and Portland on Wednesday and Sunday, but stumbled into an easy game with the recently incompetent Seattle Supersonics on Friday which passed off as their only win.

Notable News: The Hawks, at 18-22, are slowly losing ground on the Washington Wizards for second place in the Southeast Division. The sudden slip back into mediocrity could even cause them to slid back into fourth place behind the Charlotte Bobcats it they’re not careful… Third-year man Marvin Williams went off for a career-high 33 points Friday night against the Sonics and even added three steals in the effort.

Fast Forward: The next two games will round out the Atlanta Hawks five-game West coast trip, but the competition isn’t getting any easier. On Tuesday the Hawks will head to Phoenix to take on the Suns before catching a break when they head south to Los Angeles to do battle with the slumping Clippers. On Saturday the Hawks will host the New Jersey Nets and will finish off the week with another home game, this time against Philadelphia.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

Recap Rewind: It was a fairly predictable week for the Charlotte Bobcats with tough games, and eventual losses, against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. From there the Cats bounced back with a needed win over the Chicago Bulls but showed their inconsistency the following night against the Philadelphia 76ers. On Monday night the Bobcats were able to sneak by the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of a five-game West coast run

Notable News: With little risk of falling behind fifth-place Miami, the Bobcats sit relatively comfortably in fourth in the Southeast Division. If the Bobcats can put together a solid streak over the course of the next few weeks they may find themselves stepping on the heels of the Atlanta Hawks, provided the Hawks continue to disappoint… First-year Bobcat Jason Richardson spoke out against comments head coach Sam Vincent made regarding the team’s passion. ‘Oh my goodness… I don’t understand where that came from. We play passionate all the time. I don’t know if it’s frustration by him, but I don’t understand it.’ The young Bobcats could benefit from an older vet like Richardson standing up in their corner

Fast Forward: The Bobcats will look to wrap up the final four games of their five-game road trip this week when they head to Sacramento and Oakland to square off with the Kings and Golden State Warriors. From there the Cats will take to Colorado to face the Denver Nuggets. The Bobcats will finish off the week Monday with a game in Phoenix against the tough Suns.

MIAMI HEAT

Recap Rewind: Well, it’s over. The Miami Heat managed to weasel their way out of the longest losing streak in the NBA this season (followed closely by the current Sonics skid), when they took down the Indiana Pacers by a pair on Saturday. The only other action the Heat saw this week came a couple days before, on Thursday, against the San Antonio Spurs – a game which they obviously lost.

Notable News: As exciting as it is that the Heat have finally ended their 37-day drought, it doesn’t do much for their chances of climbing back into the postseason. At 9-33 the Heat are well below the fourth place Charlotte Bobcats and will likely remain in fifth place for at least the next few weeks… Perhaps in celebration of his being named an Eastern Conference starter for the upcoming All-Star game, Dwyane Wade has busted out with an average of 34.7 points per game in his last three… With 33 losses already under their belt it’s hard for the Miami Heat to think they have a chance at success this year – especially considering their championship squad, just two years ago, finished the season with just 30.

Fast Forward: After squeezing out a win against the Indiana Pacers the Heat will have to take on significantly tougher opponents if they hope to start adding some more wins to their record. On Tuesday the Heat will take on the first-place Boston Celtics at home before heading to Orlando the next day for a match with the Southeast Division-leading Magic. On Friday the Heat will take on the New Jersey Nets at home, followed by a Monday night contest with the Toronto Raptors. 

ORLANDO MAGIC

Recap Rewind: The week can be considered a relative success for Hedo Turkoglu and the Orlando Magic, especially after their last-second win over the league-leading Boston Celtics on Sunday. It was an off balance Turkoglu triple that sealed the deal for the Magic. Previously in the week the Magic beat the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, but fell in Detroit to the Pistons.

Notable News: It appears as though the Orlando Magic aren’t about to give up their first-place position in the Southeast Division just yet. At 28-18 the Magic currently sit three games up on the second-place Washington Wizards… Even in spite of his last-game heroics on Sunday night, Hedo Turkoglu has stepped up as ‘the man’ for the Orlando Magic. Having led the team in scoring in each of their last five outings at 24.4 points per game, fans can expect one of the most underrated players in the NBA to keep pulling through in the clutch… It’s official Dwight Howard will be the Eastern Conference’s starting center for the first time in his career, fans can expect many more.

Fast Forward: On Wednesday night the Magic will take on the Miami Heat as Dwyane Wade and company look for their second victory in 17 games. After, what can be assumed, an easy victory the team will head to Philadelphia and Indiana on Friday and Saturday before wrapping up the week at home against the Dallas Mavericks.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Recap Rewind: The Washington Wizards are starting to waver in their pursuit of first place in the Southeast Division. This week the team fell on the road to the Cleveland Cavaliers but bounced back with a win at home against the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately the Wizards would then turn around and drop another one on the road, this time against the dismal Milwaukee Bucks.

Notable News: With a record at 23-19 the Washington Wizards sit nestled comfortably in second place in the Southeast Division and appear to be playoff bound. The Wiz will continue to chase the first-place Magic but can not afford to be giving up wins to beatable opponents like the Milwaukee Bucks… Despite falling in OT to the Bucks, however, Wizards forward Caron Butler was able to at least save some face with a career-high 40-point performance… In Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers, Brendan Haywood led all Wizards scorers with just 11 points.

Fast Forward: The Washington Wizards will take on the Toronto Raptors in a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading home to host the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and Sunday.

Well that’s it for this week. Be sure to head over to About.com to check out the recaps of the other five divisions.