This Week In Hoops: December 21

Hey, everyone! Welcome back to basketball season. If you were around these parts last year, you remember our weekly feature: This Week in Hoops. It’s changed a bit, but the essence is the same. If you’re new to Palestra Back, TWIH is a helpful guide to the recent goings on in the world of basketball. If something happens on the hardwood, you’ll hear about it here. 

The Biggest Story in Basketball

Christmas always feels like a turning point in the NBA season. It’s about a third of the way through the year and most teams have played one another so far.

Two teams that haven’t played yet? The league’s two best clubs, Golden State and San Antonio. Both play big games on Friday, but we need to wait another month for these two titans to clash (a scheduling quirk has them not playing until January but playing twice in four days in early April).

Until then, both will continue to run ruck-shot through the league at historic levels. The talk to date has been about the Warriors, and deservedly so.  Their undefeated start was a sight to behold, but in typical Spurs fashion, San Antonio was dominating below the radar.

Two teams playing this well is not just impressive or noteworthy, its unprecedented.

To date, the Golden State Warriors are beating opponents by a larger average margin of victory than any team in NBA history at 13.4.

If not for the Warriors, the Spurs would hold that distinction, beating their opponents by 13.2 points per game.

Both are nearly a full point above the current all time record holders, the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks.


The machinations of the trade deadline and the near contenders is always interesting, but this season, Golden State or San Antonio is winning the NBA title. Maybe, with a healthy Kyrie Irving and LeBron reaching an even higher level, Cleveland can challenge whoever would limp out of a Spurs-Warriors deathmatch series.

But for teams like Houston or the Clippers, unless you are capable of elevating your team to historic heights, your assets, money, and efforts are better spent figuring out your future than wasting them on a cloudy present.

Basketball is Fun!

With all of the hot takes and super serious basketball related opinions out there, it’s important to remember that this is a game being played and watched for fun. Every week we’ll highlight something on the lighter side of the hoops world. 

Lotta fun this week!

On Inside the NBA, Sir Charles gave his coworkers a great holiday gift. They did not return the favor.

Oakland senior Max Hooper (great basketball name!) has attempted 88 field goals this season. All 88 have been 3-pointers. Let them fly, Max. You’re doing the Lord’s work.

Let’s see how many he can get up Tuesday against #1 Michigan State.

via SBNation
via SBNation

In the holiday spirit, Tom Izzo went on Dan LeBatard’s radio show and not only talked basketball, but whipped out his accordion and played a few Christmas carols. To say that the crew at the LeBatard show enjoyed themselves would be an understatement.


Essential Reading

All the pieces and posts you need to read to be on the ball. 

Over at Rush The Court, I took a look at Oklahoma’s red hot start to the season, and whether they can keep it up.

Mike Prada of SBNation took a deep, deep dive into the Spurs offense and defense and has tons of video, GIFs, and pictures that illustrate the brilliance of Pop and crew.

The always thorough Kevin Pelton examined the growing Hack-A-Shaq/Fight-A-Dwight/Drum-On-Drummond/Hands-On-Jordan/etc. epidemic and calls for rule change.

And Chad Ford updated his 2016 Big Board. Spoiler alert: Ben Simmons is on top.

Rank Shots

May the Tuesday Top Tens rest in pieces. Long live Rank Shots! If you’re not familiar, this is where we rank the best teams in the NBA, college basketball, and rank another totally irrelevant something.


  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder

College Basketball

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Michigan State
  3. Maryland
  4. Duke
  5. Iowa State
  6. Kansas
  7. Virginia

Christmas Movies

  1. A Christmas Story
  2. Trading Places
  3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
  4. Jingle All The Way
  5. It’s a Wonderful Life
  6. Lethal Weapon
  7. Home Alone
  8. Four Christmases

Something Vaguely Basketball Related You Should Have Seen By Now

“I don’t think they have Star Wars in Canada.”

Games To Watch This Week


NBA: Thunder at Clippers (10:30/NBATV)

NCAA: Oregon at Alabama (9 PM/ESPNU)


NBA: Mavericks at Raptors (7:30/NBATV)

NCAA:Random afternoon basketball!!

Virginia Tech vs St. Joe’s (1 PM/ESPN3, in Brooklyn)

#15 Miami (FL) vs LaSalle (5PM/CBSSN, at the Palestra)

BYU vs Harvard (5 PM/ESPNU, in Hawaii)

#5 Iowa State at #23 Cincinnati (7 PM/ESPN2)

Cal at #8 Virginia (9 PM/ESPN2)

Stuck at work this week? Throw that St.Joe’s-VA Tech game in an extra tab and maybe watch a little if it gets good.


NBA: Thunder at Lakers (10:30/NBATV)

Thursday (Christmas Eve)

No games at either level. 

gm bluth

Friday (Christmas)

NBA: The always great NBA Christmas slate!

Pelicans at Heat (Noon, ESPN)

Bulls at Thunder (2:30/ABC)

Cavs at Warriors (5 PM/ABC)


Spurs at Rockets (8 PM/ESPN)

Clippers “at” Lakers (10:30/ESPN)


NCAA: There’s only one game across all of Division I, but…

#19 Louisville at #4 Kentucky (Noon/CBS)



NBA: Knicks at Celtics (7 PM/NBATV)

Enjoy the Games, Everyone.

(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. Sorry for the Christmas themed nightmares from that music video.)


Header Image via Jeffrey A. Camarati

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at He has also contributed to, Rush The Court, and Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to

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