The playoffs are right around the corner and we are in the homestretch of the season. Some teams are playing their best basketball of the season, while others are starting to struggle at the wrong time. This edition of Stock Rising/Falling features a team that’s killing it while going against conventional wisdom, a team that’s seeing their franchise cornerstone set teams on fire, an update on an extremely disappointing team, and a check-in on the race for the 8th seed in the West.
The Rockets traded big man Clint Capela at the deadline and brought back Robert Covington. While Capela was hurt right before the trade, the team had been playing pretty solid prior to the deal. After acquiring Roco and adding him to the mix, the Rockets have reinserted themselves into the contender conversation. They have the second-highest net rating over the last ten games and have a top-three Effective Field Goal and True Shooting percentage in the same span.
The Rockets have passed the eye test during their “Microball” (shout out @Salman Ali) era as well. They fly around on defense and deflect passes, they make great rotations, they force more turnovers, and the defense looks much better. Their offense looks great too. James Harden and Russell Westbrook look great playing with all of the freed space, the role players are knocking down more threes than ever, and they just look flat-out unstoppable.
The most impressive part of their last 8-2 record over their last 10 games is that it includes wins over the Lakers, Jazz, Celtics twice, and the Grizzlies.
Jayson Tatum, I mean the Boston Celtics:
The Celtics are 7-3 over their last ten games, with the three losses coming against the Lakers and the Rockets twice; all of their losses were without Kemba Walker too. Jayson Tatum has looked like a superstar lately as he has been carrying the Celts to win after win. A lot of it is probably hot shooting, however I would expect him to still sustain high-level play going forward.
Boston’s defense has looked great against some of the league’s tougher teams during this stretch. Houston was really impacted by Boston’s wing defense and their great help defense. The offense just wasn’t quite able to keep up, which is more than okay when they’re missing Kemba. They are making a legit case that they are the second-best team in the East.
Sacramento Kings/New Orleans Pelicans:
The Kings are quietly 7-3 in their last 10 games and they have re-entered the race for 8th in the West. They are only three games back from 8th spot, and they have looked good lately. If Richaun Holmes comes back soon, the team could hang around and actually compete for the 8th spot.
The Pelicans are also back in the mix for the 8th seed, as they are tied with the Kings and three games back of Memphis as well. They are 6-4 over their last 10, and we all know what the main change for the team was – Zion Williamson. He has re-energized the team, and they are starting to look like the squad many predicted at the start of the year. Expect them to hang around as well.
There’s not much to say here; the Bulls are 1-9 over their last 10 games. It seems like every day there is a new video of Zach LaVine looking unhappy with Coach Jim Boylen, fans are chattering online to fire the current front office, and it’s all just a huge mess. There is only one solution, bring back the Leadership Council!!!
Memphis, San Antonio, and Portland all have four or less wins over their last 10 games. Memphis still has a three-game lead over the others for the 8th seed, but they are getting hit with the injury bug right now. They’re missing many key players, and at this point, it honestly seems inevitable for them to lose the 8th spot.
Portland and San Antonio are falling further and further away from the playoffs and recently Damian Lillard has missed time due to injury. It’s probably best these teams just pack it in and hope for great lottery luck.