Here is a rundown of the second week NBA games on ESPN, as well as a look at some of the talking points around the NBA after the first week of the 2001-12 season. Golden State Warriors V San Antonio Spurs Thursday, Jan 4 - 4:30pm-6:30pm ESPN Golden State (2-2), Offence avg: 95.7 (21st in League), Defensive avg: 100.5 (17) The Warriors are still giving up to many points under new Coach Mark Jackson but it’s better than previous years. They were missing Stephen Curry for one game and Monta Ellis for another, but still managed to pick up two quality wins last week. It's early, but strange to see GSW playing slow. They've ranked in the top 10 in pace in 29 of the last 30 years. Looks as if Jackson is making some changes! San Antonio (3-1), Off: 102.6 (12), Def: 99.0 (14) The Spurs with the ageing roster have played well in 3 games and had a shocker at Houston with a 20 point loss. Manu Ginobili is shooting 60 %, DeJuan Blair has been great, and the Spurs have looked good overall. They have two back-to-backs this week, and the second games are against Dallas (at home) and Oklahoma City (away). The spurs list will have up and down games due to the busy shortened season and the age of some players on their roster. Some of the older players including Tim Duncan (35) will look to have game time reduced at certain periods due to a packed 66 game season. The recent injury to Ginobili (broken hand) on Monday night against Minnesota will set the team back. Ginobili the current leading scorer for the Spurs will have Coach Gregg Popovich looking to re-shuffle their lineup. Popovich said James Anderson would move into the starting spot at shooting guard until Ginobili returns. Key matchups: Will depend on how the Spurs cover the loss of Ginobili, as he has been the barometer so far this season and was looking back in the form he showed a couple of seasons ago. If the Spurs can curb Ellis’s influence on the offensive end and grind down the pace of the game then it will suit them. Be good to watch Steph Curry and Tony Parker go at it at the point and this could well decide the outcome of the game. My pick: Spurs by 3.
Chicago Bulls V Orlando Magic Saturday, Jan 7 - 12:00noon-2:30pm ESPN Chicago (4-1), Off: 106.4 (4), Def: 96.7 (10) After a couple of ugly games against the Lakers (rescued by Derrick Rose's game-winner) and Warriors. The Bulls' offense turned the corner and scored almost 115 points per 100 possessions against the Kings, Clippers and Grizzlies, with Rose winning his entertaining duel against Chris Paul. The Bulls would be happy coming away with 3 out of the first 4 games out west to start the season. Orlando (4-1), Off: 105.2 (7), Def: 97.8 (13) Ryan Anderson is taking advantage of his new starting role alongside Dwight Howard, hoisting 45 threes in five games. Anderson has hit 21 of the 45 three’s and is averaging 20.4 points per game, quite a difference from his 10.6 points per game last season. Dwight Howard is averaging 17 rebounds and 17.4 points per game and recent games have seen him go up a gear and not surprisingly the Magic have started to find form with 4 straight wins. Key matchups: Trade rumours have eased slightly for Howard and he has settled into doing what he does best. Easy to see if the Bulls can curb Howard on the boards then they can go a long way to winning this one. Jameer Nelson should be back after a neck injury and how well he matches up on Rose will go a long way to the result of this game. My pick: Magic at home for me by 3 points.
Other Games to look out for this week on NBA TV. Thursday January 5th: Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat. Young Pacers are in good form to start the season and fans should be optimistic for 2011/12. Thursday January 5th: Los Angeles Lakers @ Portland Trailblazers. Portland are showing good signs with an even spread in their roster and great form behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerard Wallace.
My Fantasy Smokey of the Week: Spencer Hawes of the Philadelphia 76ers. Never heard of him? Well neither had I until I picked him up due to an injury to my Center Brook Lopez from New Jersey. Hawes has numbers of 12.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.8 blocks, 12 points and 32.5 fantasy point per game so far this season. Not bad for a Center in his 5th season who wouldn't have been on the radar of any fantasy teams this season. If he is still available in your league (which I doubt) jump on him.
Points Of Interest: The Season so far What I Like:
- Kevin Durant looks set for back to back scoring titles as he helps The Thunder to a 5-0 start. Durant is averaging 27.4 points per game only just behind Lebron James on 29.6, but it is the other parts to his game that may take the Thunder all the way this year, .50 % 3 point shooting average (up .15 from last year) and 4.2 assists per game (up 1.5).
- Dwayne Wade 2 clutch baskets down the stretch. Two first week games showed how good Wade is; a game winner with 2.5 seconds to go against Charlotte and then 2 nights later a clutch deep shot with only 4 seconds to go to pinch the game against the Timberwolves. Not bad when you think a guy by the name of Lebron is in the same team but the ball still ends up in Wade’s hands.
- Ricky Rubio hasn’t looked out of his depth at all and helped lead Minnesota to its first win against Dallas on New Year’s Day. Rubio is averaging 7.3 assists with 9.5 points in 28 minutes a game and most importantly has been playing big minutes in the final quarters showing his importance to this young team.
- The Dallas Mavericks have had an indifferent start to the season and at the moment sit at the bottom of the Southwest Division at 1-4. Dirk and co have looked rusty and have struggled getting any offence to work as new players Vince Carter and Lamar Odom look to work their way into the season.
- The Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins abruptly began to sever ties Sunday after the team said the promising young centre demanded a trade. Kings coach Paul Westphal released a statement before Sacramento hosted the New Orleans Hornets, criticizing Cousins' commitment to the franchise and excusing him from the team's game. He also confirmed that Cousins asked for a trade.