NBA All-Star Game 2012: 3 Rosters That Will Benefit Most from the Break
The NBA All-Star game festivities in Orlando, Fl. have begun, and the schedule is roughly half-way over. We've seen the good (Miami, Oklahoma City, the Clippers) rise to the occasion, the bad (Washington, Sacramento, Milwaukee) digress, and the ugly (Washington, New Orleans). And the really, really, really ugly (Charlotte).
We've witnessed Jeremy Lin provide the Cinderella story of the decade. A story that emerged in New York, no less. And we've seen the Cinderella story's clock strike midnight at Miami.
And we've seen all this in about 33-35 games. With at least another 30 games left to serve as an opportune time to bounce back from recent woes, here are three NBA rosters that are most likely to finish out the season on a good note.
Roster One: Philadelphia 76ers
After witnessing the unhealthiness of this roster thus far, Philadelphia might have to make a second CHOP. As in, the Center's Hospital of Philadelphia; this team has played more games without their center, Spencer Hawes, than with him.
Beyond Hawes, this up-and-coming roster has also started games without their 2011 first-round draft pick out of USC: Nikola Vucevic. They've shown up to games this season starting Tony Battie. With all due respect to the 36-year-old Battie, that's not exactly the ideal center I'd want at the No. 5 spot in my starting rotation.
Despite that a player 25 games into his career has been the starting center of the roster for the past week (Vucevic), and Hawes has played a total of 14 out of their 34 games played, and is still out, the Sixers still possess a record six games over .500 (20-14).
Once Hawes returns from his back issues, this Doug Collins operated team should resume the surge that they kicked off the season with.
Roster Two: New York Knicks
I know it's kind of hard to argue that a team will bounce back after being the beneficiary of Linsanity, but just hear me out. If you witnessed the whooping the Knicks received via LeBron and Co., than you will have some empathy of my argument.
After going 1-11 from the floor, turning over the ball eight times (which equals the amount of points he spotted up), and only having three assists to counteract the damage he produced, Jeremy Lin has seemingly fallen back to earth. Lin finally has received the long awaited reality check by way of the immensely underrated defense of South Beach, Miami.
During the festivities, including the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (starring Lin and teammate Landry Fields), the three-point shootout, the dunk contest (which back-up point guard Iman Shumpert pulled out of due to knee tendinitis), and the All-Star game itself (which will include the recently recovered Carmelo Anthony), the Knicks will have an opportunity to shake off the recent loss and build some much needed chemistry now that Melo is in the mix.
With Carmelo back as a key contributor, Mike D'Antoni should have plenty of viable options to work with while building lineups to get this team back into playoff contention.
A roster that has Lin, Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Landry Fields at the core should be able to push this team deep into the postseason.
Roster Three: Chicago Bulls
Despite not having the reigning MVP able to play portions of the season, as well as Deng and Rip, the team still places second in the Eastern Conference—only half a game behind Miami at 27-8.
Chicago has continued its stellar defense that Tom Thibodeau (Eastern Conference All-Star game coach) helped produce last season, and he will hopefully continue to do so in effort to clinch the top spot in the conference. The same spot Chicago possessed last season heading into the 2011 postseason.
Following a quick break from a compressed basketball season, filled with back-to-back games, sometimes back-to-back-to-back, the Bulls should be rested and healthy enough to play at a higher level than they already are. Rose, Carlos Boozer, Deng, Hamilton, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and some other key role players should benefit from the break and put up maximum effort on a nightly basis in route to a conference title.
And possibly, a league title.