Welcome to our weekly feature: This Week In Hoops. Every Monday morning we’ll take a quick look back at what we learned from the last week of games and a look forward at this week’s slate.
What We Learned Last Week
- Big week for blowouts! Kentucky routed UCLA after jumping out to a 24-0 lead. Virginia held a pretty good Harvard team to ONE first half field goal in a 51 point victory. Most surprisingly, #18 Miami lost by 28 to…Eastern Kentucky? I think we need conference play to start.
- Rajon Rondo got traded! About time right? The Celtics haven’t been a factor since 2012, with a winning percentage of .406 since the start of the 12-13 season. Rondo’s injuries haven’t helped, but it just hasn’t made sense for a team in rebuilding mode to hang on to Rondo for so long. Now? They waited so long that Danny Ainge was only able to trade Rajon Rondo for less than what Sam Hinkie got for Jrue Holiday. The Mavs won Rondo’s debut, but it was against the Spurs who DNP’d Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, and Danny Green.
- Gary Payton II became the second Oregon State Beaver to ever record a triple-double, joining Gary Payton Sr. No word on Gary Payton, Jr., because, yes, Gary Payton has two sons named Gary Payton. Consider this your annual reminder that Gary Payton is the greatest.
- Former 2nd overall pick Darko Milicic had a big week. No, he didn’t play any basketball but he did make his professional kickboxing debut. I don’t know much about kickboxing, but if I had to score that fight, I’d say the Detroit Pistons lost. Now joining us on the phone to discuss Darko’s new career is the man who drafted Darko over Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and David West, it’s Joe Dumars:
That picture will never stop being funny.
The Week Ahead
In The NBA
And now, the NBA Christmas Day games as Christmas Songs:
Wizards @ Knicks: “The Chipmunk Christmas Song”
Just a terrible game and a terrible song. Usually, I’d say I have no interest in watching Carmelo Anthony hold the ball on the wing for 15 seconds and shooting a fadeaway jumper, just like I usually prefer my music to be normal speed, and not have sped-up helium voices in it. But on Christmas Day? This might be some fun. I’m excited for the crowd shots of Woody Allen and Ben Stiller pretending like they don’t care that the Knicks are down 28 in the third quarter.
Thunder @ Spurs: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
Just a series of “Elephants in the room”. When will people stop acting like this song isn’t creepy and scary? (“At least I’m gonna say that I tried”?? Really?) When will the Thunder not making the playoffs be taken seriously? What’s stopping Greg Popovich from not playing any of his good players in this game?
Cavaliers @ Heat: “Blue Christmas”
The Browns’ magic is wearing off and Cleveland can now turn their attention back to LeBron and the Cavs issues. LeBron is averaging his fewest points and rebounds since his rookie year. Are four straight trips to the Finals and an Olympic medal taking their toll on James physically? Is he playing a certain way to teach his young teammates lessons, as some have suggested? I don’t know, but no one believes this team is the one to beat in the East anymore.
Lakers @ Bulls: “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
The Top 5 Grinch lyrics that best apply to Kobe Bryant:
5. “Your heart is full of unwashed socks.”
4. “You’re a nasty, wasty skunk.”
3. “You’ve got all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile”
2. “Your heart’s an empty hole.”
1. “Your soul is an appalling dump heap
Overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.”
Kobe’s performance Sunday night was the equivalent of the Grinch stealing the roast beast from Cindy Lou Who, shooting 8-30 with 9 turnovers.
Warriors @ Clippers: “Winter Wonderland”
Two teams that are fun to watch is the perfect way to wind down after Christmas dinner.
In College Basketball
Another fairly slow week in college hoops. No Top 25 teams play Wednesday through Friday. I don’t mean there’s no match-ups of two ranked teams, I mean no ranked teams play a game at all. Everything stinks right now.
Monday, Kansas @ Temple
Kansas is 9-1. Their only loss is to Kentucky, They’ve beaten Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Georgetown, and Utah. Watch out Big XII.
Tuesday, NJIT @ Villanova
We’ve seen these two juggernauts both beat Michigan. Finally, we get to see them play each other.
(Seriously though, can a conference invite NJIT to join? They are Division I’s only independent, which means they have the longest shot at qualifying for the Big Dance, which is to say, no shot.)
Saturday, Gonzaga @ BYU
If you buy into this Zag team making a run in March, this is a game they need to win. BYU is good and this is a new rivalry that has started to bubble the last several years, but Final Four caliber teams win this game.
These two teams will both be factors in March, if anyone comes out of this game alive. Anything is possible in this game. 45-44 slugfest? Yup. 110-108 shootout. Yup. Blowout either way? Yup. Montrzel Harrell tears Tyler Ulis in half? Yup. John Calipari and Rick Pitino fistfight? Yup. Yup. Yup.
Enjoy the games! Merry Christmas!
(Note: Every edition of This Week in Hoops will end with a song. I’ve compiled all of these songs into a playlist that you can find here.)
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor at PalestraBack.com. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.