Are the Atlanta hawks the best team in the Eastern conference of the NBA? With a 34-8 record and on a 13 game winning streak you could make that argument. Under 2nd year head coach Mike Budenholzer the Hawks are playing more of an uptempo style and have been compared to the team that Budenholzer worked for 16 or 17 seasons the San Antonio Spurs. Yesterday on the Sports Time Radio podcast Brad Rowland from ATLallday.com talked about the fact that the hawks are just one win away from tying the team’s all-time record for wins in a row. They’ll get their chance to tie that record tonight (Wednesday) as they host the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are in last place in the Central division of the Eastern conference at 15-28 coming into tonight’s game. This could be considered a classic trap game for the Hawks as they have a big match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and if they’re looking ahead to that game the Pacers may surprise them. If the Hawks can get their 14th win tonight and they find a way to get past the Thunder for #15 they’ll have a couple of winnable games Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves and then a week from today against the Brooklyn Nets. Could the Atlanta winning streak be at 17 when they go up against the 2nd best team record wise in the Western conference the Portland Trailblazers. Now if you don’t consider Atlanta to be the best team in the Eastern conference; you’d have to say they’re the biggest surprise right now. Stat wise you wouldn’t know how well this team is doing. They don’t have a player who averages 20 points a game. Jeff Teague is averaging the most points per game with 17.2. Paul Milsap isn’t far behind at 16.9 points per game. Milsap is the teams rebounding leader with 7.9 per game. Al Horford is 2nd in rebounding at 6,6 per game. Teague is easily the team leader in assists handing out 7.3 per game. You can’t talk about the success the Hawks are having without mentioning the role that Kyle Korver has played. Korver is shooting 53.6% from behind the three point line and adding 13.2 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game and 2.9 assists per game. The Hawks have avoided a major injury to a star player this season and still may have some issues inside against bigger teams, but their isn’t a team in the NBA on a better roll right now.
The team in the Eastern conference that might give the Hawks the most problems could be the Washington Wizards. While the Chicago Bulls are struggling right now and the Cleveland Cavaliers are still trying to find their way the Wizards have the 2nd best record in the Eastern conference at 29-13. The Wizards have what the Hawks struggle against; bigger player who can move. The Wizards have Marcin Gortat, Nene as starters with Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin coming off the bench. While I think everyone is expecting the Cavaliers or the Bulls to represent the Eastern conference in the NBA finals, but don’t be surprise if you see the Wizards vs. the Hawks for the right to play for the NBA title.
7 years and $210 million is what it took the Washington Nationals to land Max Scherzer. Scherzer turns 31 in July; so that means the back-end of this contract will be terrible for Washington. There was a lot of money deferred; so does that make Schrezer the new Bobby Bonilla? While the contract says seven years he’ll be paid over a period of fourteen years. Schrezer was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA last season for the Detroit Tigers. The knock on Schrezer is the fact that he’s had one complete game in 198 career starts, but that complete game was last season. Schrezer is also one year removed from a Cy Young award-winning season. Schrezer joins the nationals starting rotation along with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister. They also have Tanner Roark, but you’d think if the Nationals don’t make another deal Roark may be ticketed for the bullpen. There is talk of the Nationals looking for a bullpen arm, but would they deal Zimmerman to get him or would Roark be the starter that gets dealt. Either way with the Schrezer signing the Nationals have on paper what appears to be the best starting rotation in Major League Baseball but will it win them a World Series.
I was a little surprised to see the Milwaukee Brewers trade Yovani Gallardo. He had been the ace of their pitching staff and even though his stats where in decline I didn’t think they would trade him. In return for Gallardo Milwaukee received a group of young players. Infielder Luis Sardinas and right-handed pitchers Corey Knebel and Marcos Diplan. There was some talk that the Brewers would be interested in Jordan Zimmerman of the Nationals, but it doesn’t appear that will happen; so it looks like Jimmy Nelson is the guy tab to move into the Milwaukee starting rotation. We’ll have Phil Watson from DairylandExpress.com on the podcast today (Wednesday) and you know this topic will come up.
The Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs made a deal as the Astros have traded outfielder Dexter Fowler to Chicago for infielder Luis Valbuena and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily. The Cubs had reportedly been seeking an outfielder, and Fowler will take over in center and join an outfield mix that also includes Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Chris Denorfia and Arismendy Alcantara. Alcantara is just 23 and struggled in his first big league season in 2014, so perhaps the Cubs will have him start the season in the minors, or maybe they’ll also have him play infield, perhaps using him at third base until Kris Bryant arrives. Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella could also be in the short-term mix at third. If you’ve ever heard the podcast you know I’m all in on Kris Bryant and thought he should’ve been with the major league team at the end of last season. Sadly the Cubs are looking for control of Bryant for as long as they can; so I won’t be surprised at all if the Cubs keep Bryant in the minors until July just for that one extra year of control. Where Bryant starts the season at will tell you exactly where the Cubs think they are. If he’s in Chicago with the big club the Cubs think they have a shot at a playoff berth. If Bryant starts the season at Triple A Iowa the Cubs feel they won’t be a playoff team and hold Bryant back.
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