|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
The Bobcats' losing streak is at 16 games and counting and can't end quick enough, while the Spurs, winners of nine straight, hope their streak never ends.
Our 5-on-5 crew weighs in.
Brian Cronin, Knickerblogger: Linspirational. When players on other teams are saying things like this, from Tony Parker, "It's almost like you want to cheer for [Lin]. You want him to make every shot. His story is like a movie and he's performing every night right now." When you are getting those comments from rival teams, you know the Jeremy Lin-led run to .500 is something very special.
Graydon Gordian, 48 Minutes of Hell: Unforeseeable. Absolutely no one saw Linsanity coming and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Honestly, the Knicks could have gone the entire season without winning seven games in a row and I wouldn't have been surprised in the least bit.
Ian Levy, The Two-Man Game: Hyperbolic. Jeremy Lin has been exciting, but his success obscures a lot of truths about the Knicks' situation. Of their seven wins, four came against bottom six teams. For all the scoring and distributing Lin has done, their offense has been only marginally more efficient. I'm happy for the Knicks and Jeremy Lin, but plenty of problems remain unfixed in New York.
Spencer Percy, Queen City Hoops: Linpressive. You probably could have guessed what the first three letters of that adjective were going to be. Jeremy Lin has been nothing short of phenomenal and could very well go down as one of the better sports stories of all-time. Lin's 36 turnovers (another league record) through six games are a little bothersome, but the return of Carmelo should get the ball out of his hands more.
Michael Wallace, Heat Index: Lin-sational. I was skeptical at first, with doubts like just about everyone else. But over the past seven games, it's obvious that Jeremy Lin will be an impact player for more than a New York minute. He's breathed a sense of life into the franchise that seems to overshadow even Amare Stoudemire's free-agency signing in 2010 or Carmelo Anthony's trade arrival last year.
Cronin: Youth-driven. For a team with as many veterans as the San Antonio Spurs, it is impressive to see how important their young players have been in this current streak. DeJuan Blair has stepped up his defense while Kawhi Leonard is showing signs of becoming a lockdown defender. Danny Green and Gary Neal have been key assets, as well. Of course, Tony Parker's 23 points and 8 assists during the winning streak also come in handy.
Gordian: Impressive, considering Manu Ginobili has been back for only two of those wins and six have come on the road, where the Spurs struggled mightily earlier this season. Every year we come up with reasons to discount the Spurs, and every year they remain among the league's elite.
Levy: Sneaky, sneaky. With everyone's attention focused on New York, the Spurs have quietly moved up to the second seed in the Western Conference. Unlike the Knicks, their wins have come against top competition, including Oklahoma City, Houston, Philadelphia and Memphis. With a completely healthy Ginobili still on the horizon, this team can still get better.
Percy: Boring. Nothing against the Spurs at all, but don't they do this at some point every single season? The most impressive aspect has been that six of the nine games have been on the road and two of the wins have come against Memphis, the team that ousted them last season in the Western Conference first round.
Wallace: Reassuring. People tend to forget too easily that the Spurs, next to the Lakers, are the closest thing the league has to a contemporary dynasty. They aren't too far removed from those championship runs or the best record in the league last season. Tony Parker has been amazing, and now Manu Ginobili is back from injury. The Spurs are doing what the Spurs do -- quietly and consistently going about the business of winning games.
Cronin: Unsustainable. Charlotte has quietly been playing better in its past two losses, and with the return of D.J. Augustin, the team appears poised to break this depressingly long losing streak. Half of their next six games come against teams with sub .300 winning percentages, so as the Bobcats get healthier I am confident that they will end this streak.
Gordian: Foreseeable. This shallow and leaderless roster is as poorly constructed as any in the league. With the compressed season, key injuries to overworked players weren't so much probable as inevitable. But while some teams were prepared to weather those storms, a dozen games without the likes of D.J. Augustin has been catastrophic for Charlotte.
Levy: Unsurprising. They don't execute and the talent differential between them and almost every other team in the league is overwhelming. It seems like things can't get much worse, but I'm not sure how they get much better. It's time to start dreaming about a Bismack Biyombo, Anthony Davis frontcourt.
Percy: Unbearable. Everyone knew that Charlotte was going to struggle to some extent this season, but this was not the degree of struggle I was expecting. Make no mistake, this team has been plagued by injuries by losing three starters for a month during this losing streak (Augustin, Henderson & Maggette) and getting them back should help, but the Cats still have the history books staring them in the face.
Wallace: Expected. Michael Jordan has been stripping away veterans and impact players on this team since he took over majority ownership from Bob Johnson a couple of years ago. What's left is a group of young players and castoffs from other teams in what is the epitome of a rebuilding job. On some nights, I'm sure a good D-League team could beat the Bobcats.
Cronin: Stabilizing. From the loss of Tyson Chandler, to Dirk Nowitzki only recently getting into prime shape to Lamar Odom still not being in prime shape to a flurry of injuries to key players, the Mavericks have been doing their best Job impression so far this season. And yet they have won five straight against good teams and now have the fourth best record in the Western Conference. Don't sleep on the Mavericks!Gordian: Necessary. After dropping three in a row, the Mavs needed some wins to keep pace in the highly competitive Southwest Division. These hard-earned victories have been critical to not letting division rival San Antonio create too much breathing room in the standings.
Levy: Understated. It's been business as usual the past week, which is a welcome change from the chaos and upheaval that began the season. The Mavericks are a team that thrives on flow and rhythm, two elements that have finally started showing up on a nightly basis.Percy: Overdue. It's actually the Mavs' second five-game winning spurt this season, but also one that couldn't have come at a better time. During the streak, four of the five wins have come against current Western Conference playoff teams.
Wallace: Redefining. Although Dirk Nowitzki has scored at least 20 points in four of the five wins, he's been in a relative shooting slump along the way. So that means the Mavs have had to find ways to grind out victories with overwhelming effort and defense. Lamar Odom still hasn't arrived, but Dallas' revamped supporting cast has been providing the spark it did in last year's title run.
Cronin: Dominating. There is no better word to describe what LeBron James and the Miami Heat did to their opponents during this recent stretch. After rolling over the Bucks on the second night of a three-game/three-night road trip, the Heat then went into Indiana and simply destroyed the Pacers. The Heat are lucky for Linsanity distracting the NBA world, because otherwise everyone would be talking about how deadly the Heat look right now.Gordian: Unremarkable. Yes, they've been winning by an average of more than 17 points per game during this streak. However, only one win has come against a team with a winning record, and that was Atlanta, which is without Al Horford, its emotional leader and arguably its best player. The Heat won these games easily, but that's exactly what they should have done.
Levy: Emphatic. All four wins have come by at least 15 points, and the most recent was a complete and utter dismantling of Indiana on the end of a back-to-back-to-back. The way they're playing right now, it could be a month before they lose again.
Percy: Dominant. Miami has won all four games by 15-plus points, scored 105-plus, held their opponents to 96 points or fewer and the Big Three have averaged a combined 61 points per game. Oh, not to mention all four wins have come on the road.
Wallace: Perkins-proof. Not even grumpy Oklahoma City big man Kendrick Perkins could find something to gripe about with the Heat's play on this recent run. During a streak that included Miami's historic sweep of three road games in as many nights by double digits, LeBron posted a total plus-minus of plus-81. On top of that, he hasn't posted one single tweet to tick Perkins off.