Friday, January 30, 2009

Playoff Predictions

By David Josselsohn
Edited by: Robert Kivell

 As the All-Star break approaches, it's time to look at The Inside Scoop's very own David Josselsohn's predictions for the playoffs. Here, we will deal with the Eastern Conference: 
Overview: The Celtics, Cavs, and Magic have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. It is obvious that they will finish 1,2,3 in the conference. The question is who will emerge as the fourth best team in the conference and take home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. 

The Contenders: 

1.) Boston Celtics. The defending champs will find a way to pull out the number one spot in the conference. The supporting cast will do it for them; Leon Powe, Eddie House, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins are really going to help the big three. The Celtics, Cavs, and Magic all have their all stars, but the Celtics have the strongest supporting cast. 

2.) Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers have not lost at home this year. That is a testament to their focus. Lebron James is the best player in basketball, and he will lead the Cavaliers to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Also, the Cavaliers are more experienced than 
the Magic in these situations. 

3.) Orlando Magic. Being third to the Cavs and the Celtics is not bad at all. All Stars Jameer Nelson
, Rashard Lewis, and Dwight Howard are doing the right thing with this team. The supporting cast just doesn't match up with the Celtics and Cavs. 

4.) Detroit Pistons. This is where it gets interesting. There is a huge drop off here. The Pistons have the most talent out of the other teams in the Eastern Conference. Wallace, Iverson, Stuckey, and Hamilton lead the way for them. They also have a lot more experience in this situation than teams like the Heat or the Hawks do. 

5.) Atlanta Hawks. Although they have fallen upon tough times lately, I think that the Hawks will turn it around. They have so much talent in Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, and Mike Bibby. Once Al Horford returns from injury, 
they will be a team to be reckoned with. They have a very complete team with Bibby running the point, Johnson at the 2, all
 the way up to big men like Zaza Pachulia and Horford. 

6.) Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are streaking, having won eight of their last ten. Th
e tandom of Elton Brand and Andre Miller will pay off big down the stretch. And don't forget about Andre Igoudala, who can light it up at any time.

 7.) Miami Heat. Although Michael Beasely is a rookie, there is no denying that the Heat have talent. Dwyane Wade is one of the best players in basketball and Shawn Marion is a very good player. They have too much talent not to make theplayoffs in a top heavy Eastern Conference. 

8.) Toronto Raptors. The eighth place will come down to a battle between three teams, the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors, and the Chicago Bulls
. The Knicks are an exciting team that can get hot at any time. The Toronto Raptors have three great players, Jose Calderon, Jermaine O'Neal, and Chris Bosh. The Chicago Bulls have a solid team with a great bench. Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas, Larry Hughes, and Andres Nocioni support a good starting line up. Ultimately, the duo of Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon will lead the Toronto Raptors to the playoffs. 

So again, our projected seeds are, 1.) Boston Celtics 2.) Cleveland Cavaliers 3.) Orlando Magic 4.) Detroit Pistons 5.) Atlanta Hawks 6.) Philadelphia 76ers 7.) Miami Heat 8.) Toronto Raptors. My Western Conference Predictions will be coming soon.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Power Rankings 1-29-09

By: Robert Kivell

1. Boston Celtics
After losing their seat at the top of the NBA, the Celtics put a string together of 9 straight wins and have returned to their early season form.  Right now, no one can beat them.
2. LA Lakers
After the Celtics, the Lakers are the most dominate team in the league.  Kobe Bryant is playing some of the best basketball of his career and finally has the right cast to support him.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have won four straight since getting blown out by the Lakers.  The Cavs are 21-0 at home and will probably stay undefeated until a big match
up Feb. 8 on ABC.
4. Orlando Magic
The Magic lost two games last week to the Lakers and the Heat dropping them from the conversation over who the best team in the league is.  Dwight Howard and the Magic have an important game tonight against the Cavs.  A win would put them right back into that conversation.
5.   San Antonio Spurs
It seems like the same thing happens every year.  You don't think of the Spurs as a domin
ating team in the west for the first half of the season, but then you look at the standings and see they are 30-14 and 2nd in the west.
6. New Orleans Hornets
CP3 is leading the Hornets to another strong season.  Pa
ul was just three steals away from a QUADRUPLE DOUBLE the other night.  It will interesting to see if he will be able to do it by the end of the season.
7. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are 29-13 since the Chauncey Billups deal.  Mark Warkentien (that's their GM) can put that one in the win column.
8. Portland Trailblazers
There probably isn't another team in the league with as much youth and talent as the Blazers do. Their last three games have been easy (vs. Was, @LAC, vs. CHA) so the next three games (vs. Utah, @NO, @Dal) should be a good indicator of where this young team is at.
9. Pheonix Suns
The Suns are probably the most up and down team in the league. Sometimes they can beat the best, but they can also lose to the worst. In their last five games, the
y have lost to both the Bobcats and Knicks.
10. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks are really struggling right now. They have lost three in a row and four out of ten.  Atlanta has struggled since their 21-10 start, but the Hawks should get some relief over their next six games until the All-Star break. (NJ, Mil, Min, Cha, LAC, Wash)
11. Houston Rockets
12. Miami Heat
13. Dallas Mavericks
14. Philadelphia 76ers
15. Detroit Pistons
16. Utah Jazz
17. New York Knicks
18. Milwaukee Bucks
19. Minnesota T-Wolves
20. New Jersey Nets
21. Charlotte Bobcats
22. Toronto Raptors
23. Chicago Bulls
24. Indiana Pacers
25. Oklahoma City Thunder
26. Golden State Warriors
27. Memphis Grizzlies
28. LA Clippers
29. Washington Wizards
30. Sacramento Kings

Friday, January 23, 2009

All Star Starters set for Phoenix

By Adam Sperber
The city of Phoenix is hosting this year's NBA All Star game.  The starters for both leagues are set and ready to go.  For the East, Allen Iverson will be starting at point guard.  Iverson is averaging 17.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game.  Iverson was traded back to the East in an early season deal between the Pistons and the Nuggets.  At shooting guard, Dwayne Wade starts for the East.  Wade is averaging 28.8 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game.  Wade currently leads the league in points per game and is having a stellar season.  King James will start at small forward for the East.  The King is averaging 27.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game.  As usual, James is leading the Cavs into the top of the Eastern conference and having a phenomenal season.  Kevin Garnett, the reigning defensive player of the year, will start at power forward for the East.  KG is averaging 16.1 points, 2.6 assists, and 9.1 rebounds per game.  The Big Ticket has not had the greatest season of his career this year but he is helping the Celtics to retain their position in the East.  Dwight Howard will start at center for the East.  Howard is averaging, 19.9 points, 1.4 assists, and 14.0 rebounds per game.  Howard is one of the main reasons that the Magic are where they are in the East.  For the West, Chris Paul will start at point guard.  CP3 is averaging 21.2 points, 11.0 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game.  Because of Paul's performance so far this year, the Hornets are near the top of the West.  Kobe Bryant will start at shooting guard for the West.  Bryant is averaging 26.4 points, 5.2 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game.  Kobe's play has allowed the Lakers to climb to the top of the West.  At small forward, Tim Duncan will be starting for the West.  Duncan is averaging 20.4 points, 3.5 assists, and 10.2 rebounds per game.  Duncan has played excellently to this point allowing the Spurs to excel.  Amar'e Stoudemire will start at power forward for the West.  Stoudemire is averaging 21.3 points, 2.2 assists, and 8.0 rebounds per game.  Although the Suns are struggling now, Stoudemire is still able to play at his best.  At center, the West will start Yao Ming.  Yao is averaging 19.9 points, 1.8 assists, 9.6 rebounds per game.  Yao has played well up to this point and is helping the Rockets compete in the West.  With this stellar group of starters, the All Star game looks to be an interesting matchup

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Final Farewell for Zo

By: Robert Kivell

After a 15 year career in the NBA, Alonzo Mourning is finally calling it quits.  Zo, as he is called, has made many comebacks throughout his career, but finally decided to call it quits for the last time today.  During the prime of his career, Mourning was the centerpiece of the Pat Riley-coached Heat, averaging close to 20 points and 10 boards per game, while dominating the paint. Mourning was always a force down low and was one of the centerpieces in the heated Knicks-Heat rivalry of the late 90's.  However, in 2000, Mourning was diagnosed with a kidney disease that forced him to miss five months of the season.  Unfortunately, this was the start of the end of Zo's career.  Mourning would return to play and make the all-star team during the 01-02 season, but as a result of his condition worsening Mourning missed the entire 02-03 season.  After a few years with the Nets, and a few days with the Raptors (He was sent to Toronto as part of the Vince Carter traded) Mourning returned to the Heat hungry for a championship.  Mourning's hunger for that elusive NBA ring was fed when the Heat, lead by Shaq and Dwayne Wade won it all in 2006.  Last year, on December 19th 2007, Mourning suffered the final injury of his career.  In the first quarter in a game against the Atlanta Hawks, Mourning tore his patella tendon in his right knee. Although it was rumored that Zo might make a comeback this year, but Mourning announce today he decided the right time to retire is now.

Scoreboard 1-21-09

Bobcats 101 - Grizzles 86
Larry Browns tough defense, quick ballmovement, and high percentage shot teachings are certainly paying off for the Bobcats, they stay hot with their fourth win in their last five games.

Pistons 95 - Raptors 76
Rip Hamilton has his first game as a reserve after starting his first 611 games with the pistons, but that is not the story of the night for the pistons, Tayshaun Prince Scored 23 of his 25 points in the second and third quarters allowing his team to run away with the game and come out big on top.

Celtics 98 - Heat 83
Eddie House seems to be an all-star when playing in south beach, he had a season best with 25 points as the celtics tear up another opponent as they make their streak now six straight.

Knicks 114 - Suns 109
After David Lee finished a huge dunk over Amare Stoudemire and drew the foul, Nate Rombinson got too excited, and was pounding his chest, and ventured onto the court, and when Amare tripped over David Lee's legs into Nate, Nate recieved a technical foul. The tech sparked a big run for the Suns late in the first half, but Nate more than made up for it with 20 points.

Hornets 102 - Nets 92
Paul barely missed his fifth tripple-double of the season with 29 points, eight assits, and nine rebounds. His domination lead to the Nets fifth straigh road lost.

Bucks 133 - Mavs 99
Redd's 27, and Villanueva's 32 and 10 were enough to crush the Mavs. Gradzuric who started off with seven straight misses then had a tip in, and then knocked down a three pointer on three straight posessions.

Rockets 108 - Jazz 99
no matter who is on the court, you always know the Rockets and Jazz are going to have a tight physical game. Yao was dominationg until he got his fifth foul, and had to come out, as the Jazz took full advantage and pulled within four. Deron Williams had 32 points, but Von Wafer suck a three near the end of the game to put his team up by seven, and they cruised to the finish from there.

Cavs 104 - Blazers 98
LeBron's 34 points and fourteen assits, along with Mo Williams season-high 33 points, and carrer-high six three pointers were enough to lift the Cavs to another victory.

Wizards 110 - Kings 107
A battle between two teams with two of the worst records in the league. Excellent play by Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison did the job to earn a rare road win for the Wizards.

Thuder 122 - Warriors 121
Jeff Green hit a turn-around buzzer beater from sixteen feet to earn a rare road victory for the Thuder. Green had 26, Westbrook matched a career-high with 30, and Durant added 27 as the Thunder earned a tough victory.

Lakers 108 - Clippers 97
Andrew Bynum was the first Laker since rhe 1986-87 season not named Shaq to score 40 points and add 15 rebounds. Bynum had a career-best performance with 42 points and 15 rebounds, as Kobe added his career sixteenth tripple-double. The Lakers have now won seven straight against the Clippers, and 14 of their last 15.

Dealing the Details: Hughes For Simmons

The Nets and Bulls are reportedly close to completing a deal that gives the Nets Larry Hughes and the Bulls Bobby Simmons and possibly Maurice Ager, but the main focus is Hughes and Simmons.  The small forward Simmons is 1 year younger and one inch taller than the guard/forward Hughes, who is 4 years more experienced and has better stats.  Along with rebounds per game, Simmons has a better field goal and 3-point % than Hughes, who ousts him in every other statistic.  Simmons has started and played more games, 37/38 to Hughes' 6/30. Hughes indirectly initiated the trade by expressing anger towards the Bulls when they benched him during Hinrich's absence.  The Nets satisfy their need for a veteran, and potentially have a shooting guard if they decide to deal Vince Carter.  The Bulls need a bigger body in absence of Drew Gooden.  Overall, this would turn out as a better deal for the Nets because they get a better player and more versatile player out of the deal.  Hughes would also give Harris another proven scorer to work with, giving the Nets somewhat of a big 3 in Harris, Carter and Hughes.  All that needs to happen now is for the Nets to sign off, and the deal is done.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Scoreboard 1-20-09

Spurs 99 - Pacers 81
Great play from Tony Parker and Tim Duncan allowed them to stay on the bench the entire fourth period, as they watched their team go on to win by 18. Duncan had 27 and Ginobili had 26.

Hawks 105 - Bulls 102
Bibby's season best performance of 31 points, six assits and five steals was enough to earn the victory for the Hawks. Bibby also had a key steal with 40 seconds left in the game.

Nuggets 118 - Kings 99
With Carmelo sidelined with a broken bone in his shooting hand, the Nuggets have had a big contribution from J.R Smith and Linas Kleiza in filling the role of their absent all-star.

Jazz 112 - T-Wolves 107
When the T-Wolves cut the Jazz's large lead to one point, Mehmet Okur was able to step up and be the hero knocking down consecutive three pointers. Paul Millsap and Deron Williams both had monster games, as they were able to over come great performances by Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, and Randy Foye.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Preview: Cavs vs. Blazers

By Josh Sperber
Edited By Robert Kivell

This Wednesday night matchup could be a big one.  The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference, while the Portland Trailblazers just missed the playoffs last year and are looking to prove themselves with Oden finally healthy. The weak spots of both teams almost perfectly counter each other.  The Cavs have LeBron James, arguably the best player in the league, but the Blazers have their own stars in Brandon Roy, Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez.  The Cavs are on the road, where they have lost all 8 of their games while the Blazers have a solid home record at 15-4.  The Cavs have betters stats on offense and in rebounding than the Blazers, who have a statistically better defense.  LeBron is coming off of a bad night, 23 points on 9-for-25 shooting, while Oden is coming off a career-best night, with career-highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds, but the Cavs played the Lakers while Portland played the Bucks.  So far, the Cavs lead the season-series 2-0, with a win on each team's homecourt.  I predict the Cavs will win this game by 6.

Potential deal between Raptors and Heat may have an interesting outcome

By: Adam Sperber
Edited by: Robert Kivell

There is a potential deal between the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat involving Jermaine O'Neal and Shawn Marion.  Both players are good players that are not having very good seasons.  O'Neal is averaging 13.6 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game.  Marion is averaging 12.3 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.  Both players are currently injured and O'Neal has been frequently injured in recent years. O'Neal is a perfect example of a high risk, high reward player.  I feel that if the deal goes through, the Raptors will get the better end in the long run because since they already have Chris Bosh, the combination of Bosh and Marion will get the Raptors farther because Bosh is one of the leagues top Forward/Centers right now and Marion's versatility will help ease the load on his shoulders.  Right now, Toronto is towards the bottom of the East, but if they completed this deal, the Raptors would be right back in contention for the 8th seed in the East.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Scoreboard 1-19-09

Knicks 102 - Bulls 98
A battle throughout the game, but Chris Duhon's layup with 31 seconds left in the game was enough to earn the victory for New York

Mavs 95 - 76ers 93
A game filled with spectacular play.  The teams played it all the way to the wire, when Dirk Nowitzki's buzzer beater broke the 76ers 7 game winning streak.

Hawks 87 - Raptors 84
The Hawks were able to come up with a clutch victory without the presence of starters AL Horford and Marvin Williams. Joe Johnson was able to hit a jumper with 12 seconds giving his team a 3 point lead, as Jamario Moon missed the game tying 3 pointer a the buzzer

Rockets 105 - Nuggets 103
Kenyon Martin missed two game tying free throws with 2.6 seconds left as the Rockets held on to beat the Nuggets. A few second earlier, the Nuggets felt they had the go ahead basket stolen from them, as Linas Kleiza was called for an offensive foul with 7 seconds in the game.

Spurs 86 - Bobcats 84
The last second stand by the spurs was enough to hold off the Bobcats from winning a fourth straight. Tim Duncan was able to make up for his game winning shot being blocked, as he hustled back to block Raymond Felton's game tying shot.

Hornets 103 - Pacers 100
Chris Paul was the x-factor in this game with 27 PTS 5 REB 9 AST and 1 STL, but it was his game winning 3 pointer in response to Pacer's star Danny Granger's game tying 3 pointer that ultimately was the dagger.

T-wolves 94 - Clippers 86
Al Jefferson and Craig Smith dominated and were able to propel their team to victory over the great play of Eric Gordon, and DeAndre Jordan.

Warriors 119 - Wizards 98
In this blow out victory, the Warriors with good play all around were able to take care of the the battered and banged up Wizards, who are having one of the worst seasons in franchise history, with an 8-32 record the second worst in the league. (Thunder worst 8-34)

Pistons 87 - Grizzles 79
Through a good team effort, the Pistons were able to persevere, and win on a late surge lead by guards Rodney Stuckey, and Allen Iverson.

Celtics 104 - Suns 87
The Celtics suceeded in proving their supremicy, as they crushed a top contender in the west. The Big Three were able to rest in the second half as the team jumper out to a huge halftime lead. This could be that extra confidence booster they need as they now make it 5 games straight after their season's worst stretch of 2-7.

Blazers 102 - Bucks 85
This was a close game through the first three quarters, but the Blazers stepped up and pulled away in the fourth. Greg Oden had the best game of his young career.

Lakers 105 - Cavs 88
It was obvious that Delonte West was missing as Kobe's Lakers proved why they have the best record on the league right now.

The Forecast for the Thunder

By: Josh Sperber

The Oklahoma City Thunder started off their first NBA season plummeting down to the bottom.  They inherited the Sonics, so that might not sound surprising, but they have a good young team and promise for the future.  Right now, they are 8-34, dead last in the league.  They have some good players: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, just to name a few.  Green and Durant are great all-around players, they have some strength off the bench with many players like Chris Wilcox and Desmond Mason.  And most of their players are young, making the Thunder one of the youngest teams in the league.  The problem is their young players have not yet matured and blossomed into their full potential. This has left most of the work to Green and Durant.  Since the Thunder are in a division with the Blazers, Nuggets and Jazz, all three of whom have at least 24 wins, Oklahoma City has a long way to go before they will reach the playoffs.  Eventually the Thunder may turn into one of the better teams in the league, but for now they are just going to have to wait for a while.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Scoreboard 1-18-09

Suns 117-Raptors 113
Anthony Parker missed the go ahead 3 with thirty seconds left as the Suns, lead by Steve Nash's 18 assists and Amare Stoudamire's 31 points beat the Raptors in Toronto.

Heat 104-Thunder 94
Dwayne Wade's 32 points and 10 assists were more than enough to overcome Kevin Durant and Jeff Green's 53 combined points in a ten point victory over the Thunder for the Heat.

A Look Foward to the Second Half

By: Robert Kivell

Last year in the second half of the season we saw the Sixers surge to make the playoffs, the Lakers dominate with their addition of Pau Gasol, and a 48 win team miss the playoffs. We saw Lebron James lead the league in scoring and Kobe Bryant win his first MVP award. The Eastern Conference won the All-Star game in New Orleans and Dwight Howard (AKA Superman) defied gravity the night before. The Hawks and Heat played the same game twice (The Hawks won both times), and Jason Kidd was traded from the Nets to the Mavs. Here is what you should look for during the second half of this season.

Second Half MVP: Chris Paul

Yes. I didn't say Kobe, or Lebron, or even Wade, but Chris Paul. I see Paul performing even better than his 21 points, 11 assists, and 3 steals he averaged in during the first half of the season. Paul will not only end the argument over who the best PG in the NBA is, but the argument will become Kobe vs. Lebron vs. CP3. I see Paul leading his Hornets to a 55 win season and helping New Orleans finish second in the western conference.

Second Half Disappointment: Kevin Garnett

The Celtics tumble from league supremacy to just one of the better teams in the league is a lot due in part to the lack of production from KG. In the month of January, Garnett has averaged just 14.2 ppg during the month of January and the Celtics' recent skid. Look for this lack of production from KG to continue and the Celtics to continue to struggle as well.

Second Half Sleeper: Utah Jazz
The Jazz started the year 5-0, but have not had the same good fortunes since then. Deron Williams started the year injured only to have Carlos Boozer go down as soon as he came back. Once Boozer and fellow injuree Paul Milsap come back, the Jazz will poised to make a run. The Jazz have been able to survive thus far and put up a nice 24-17. Once Utah is healthy again, they will be ready to pounce on the competition and finish in the upper tier of the Western Conference.

Second Half Dud: New Jersey Nets

Right now, the Nets are 19-22 and tied for 8th in the Eastern Conference. These guys just do not have the talent to finish at .500 and make the playoffs. The Nets have had one of the easiest schedules so far this season (SOS=.469) and have had 5 more home games than road games. Their success on the road will not continue and with the 76ers finally finding their groove, the Nets will miss out on the playoffs for the second straight year.

Scoreboard 1-17-09

By: Robert Kivell

Celtics 105-Nets 85
Ray Allen had 25 points and Rajon Rondo had a near triple double in a blowout win over the Nets

Bobcats 102-Trailblazers 97 OT
Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 31 points and 16 rebounds in their thrilling OT victory over the Blazers

Hornets 91-Pistons 85
Chris Paul's 23 points and 14 assists were too much as the Hornets sent the Pistons to their fifth straight loss

76ers 107-Knicks 97
Andre Igoudala had 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead his surging sixers to their seventh straight victory.  The Sixers are .500 for the first time since they were 7-7.

Spurs 92-Bulls 87
With 1:40 left in the game, Tony Parker made a driving layup to put the Spurs up 82-81. The Spurs would never look back.  Parker had a team high 20 points.

Rockets 93-Heat 86
Yao went a perfect 12-12 from the field leading his Rockets to a win over the Heat.

Mavericks 115-Jazz 108
Dirk scored 39 in a high scoring affair over the Jazz.

Magic 106- Nuggets 88
Dwight Howard had 20 rebounds in the Magic's seventh straight win.

Clippers 101-Bucks 92
The Clippers ended their 12 game losing skid to the Bucks last night.  Marcus Camby had 18 points and 11 boards, but left the game late with an ankle sprain.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Halfway Through, A Look Back

By: Robert Kivell

Through the first half of the season, we have seen some great things and some terrible things.  We saw the Celtics win 19 in a row and we saw the Thunder lose 14 in a row on their way to a 3-29 start.  We saw the usually faces owning the league (see Lebron and Kobe), but we also saw new guys becoming up and coming stars in the league (see Brandon Roy and Devin Harris).  However, as time goes on, teams change and players change too.  Since their polar opposite starts, the Thunder actually have a better record (5-4) than the Celtics do (6-7).  Here is a look back at what we have seen so far in the first half of the season.

First Half MVP:  Lebron James

No surprise here.  For the first half of the season,
 Lebron James truly has been the king of the league.  King James is averaging 27.8 points, 6.7 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.0 steals.  James has propelled the Cavs to a 31-7 record, first in the East, and first in the league.  James finally has the supporting cast necessary to win a championship.  If Lebron can continue to dominate the competition the way he has so far, the Cavs will be able to make a very deep run into the playoffs.

First Half LVP: Elton Brand

When the 76ers signed Elton Brand this offseason to a five year deal this offseason, they thought they would return to the days when they were at the top of the eastern conference.  With a lineup consisting of Brand, Igoudala, Delembert, and some young talented guards, the sixers were not crazy to be aiming for a 50 win year.  However, Brand has contributed next to nothing for the sixers so far.  Elton is averaging career lows in points (15.9), blocks (1.4), and FG% (44.7).  To add insult to injury, Brand went down with a shoulder injury 23 games into the season.  You know you are having a bad year when you are supposed to be the start on your team and they are 9-14
 with you, and 10-6 without you.  That five year deal isn't looking so good now if I were a sixers fan.

Most Surprising Team: Atlanta Hawks

This award could go to the Magic, Cavs, or the Blazers, but all those teams were expecting to be top contenders in their conferences going into the season.  Going into the season, the Hawks were picked by many to finish 3rd or 4th in the Southeast division and miss the playoffs.  Only their coach knew how good they really were.  Woodson said his Hawks were going to win 50 games, and Atlanta is on pace to do just that.  Phillips Arena has become one of the hardest places to play in  the league.  The Hawks have posted a 15-4 record at home so far.  With key offseason moves including the re-signing of Josh Smith, and a n
ew defense first mentality, the Hawks are on their way to their first winning season since the 1998-99 season.  Joe Johnson has become one of the best players in the league, whil
e Flip Murray and Mo Evans have been great acquisitions.  I like this team to finish out the season strong, ending up fourth in the East and winning a round in the playoffs.