In baseball, people are starting to realize that not all pitches take equal stress on the arm. In other words a pitcher who has thrown 100 pitches but is cruising is at far less of a risk for injury than a pitcher who has passed the century mark and is in need of making perfect pitches to each hitter with men in scoring position.
I wonder if this same concept can apply to minutes in NBA games. Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau likes to lean heavily on guard Derrick Rose and forward Luol Deng, and it was a slight shock to see them on the floor during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s rout over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bulls led by 24 at the half and their lead never shrunk to less than 15 points, and no Bucks starter saw action in the fourth quarter. OTOH, the Bulls played those minutes casually as if it was a pickup game. That probably takes a lot less wear and tear than say minutes of a close game against Miami.
I think too much is being made of the poor road records of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers. Only three playoff contenders in the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves, have a winning record on the road. It’s because there are eleven solid teams in the West (last year’s playoff eight minus New Orleans plus Minnesota, the Utah Jazz, the L.A. Clippers, and the Houston Rockets) and not very much to separate them. That situation magnifies home court advantage.
It would have been fun to see a few NBA teams do a tribute to the late Don Cornelius, but I doubt any player except Kurt Thomas has a first hand memory of seeing Soul Train. That said, though, can you imagine the ABA tributes?
It may have seemed that most counting records were safe in a 66 game season, but the Charlotte Bobcats seem intent at making a run at the 76ers record for only 9 wins in a season. The Bobcats have lost 11 in a row and 16 out of 17 and four of those defeats have been by 30 points or more. The fine folks at Queen City Hoops did this analysis of whether the Bobcats will eclipse the rate stats of miserableness. This was a weak lineup that has been decimated by injuries and at 3-21, it’s enitrely possible that they won’t win 9 games, but it’s just as likely that late in the season, they’ll win a few from teams who have packed it in.