Three-Point Thursdays is our very own weekly column. Each week we ask our panel of NBA writers 3 questions. Have a question you would like to ask? Tweet @VytisLasaitis or post a comment below, and we might feature it in next week’s issue.
With Rondo out with an ACL tear, do the Celtics make the playoffs?
Vytis Lasaitis: The 8th spot in the Eastern Conference is most likely going to belong to either Boston or Philadelphia. It is hard to predict how the Celtics will react without their floor general to lead the way, but the Celtics have an easy schedule ahead of them right now, which definitely helps their case. There is still a decent possibility that Danny Ainge decides to blow things up before the deadline, in which case the 76ers will have the advantage. A lot will depend on how well Andrew Bynum looks when he gets back on the floor. At this point I say yes, they will make the playoffs.
Jack Maloney: Obviously, losing Rondo is a big setback for the Celtics. He runs their offense and is arguably the most gifted passer in the game. That being said, I still think the Celtics will make the playoffs. Despite all their struggles to this point, they are still 3 games ahead of Philadelphia for the 8th seed. The Eastern Conference is pretty weak, and with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and a solid group of role players, I expect the Celtics to do enough to make the playoffs.
Adam Lowenstein: As mentioned in my most recent podcast with Bobby, I do believe that the Boston Celtics will make it to the 2013 NBA playoffs. The Eastern Conference is very weak, and this Celtics team still has a lot of talent. They came into this season with an extremely deep team, but it is possible that the types of players that came to Boston were unable to play the way that they wanted with Rajon Rondo dominating the ball. It is possible that Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa can now spread their wings with more consistent touches. While the Celtics are not a better team without Rondo, they remain a relatively strong team that could be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs if they acquire a point guard like Kyle Lowry and a center like Emeka Okafor.
Who deserves to take Rondo’s spot in the All-Star game? (Note: The questions were answered before it was announced that Brook Lopez will be the replacement.)
VL: Brook Lopez. Hands down. The Brooklyn Nets are 4th in the East and don’t have a single player in the All-Star game. Deron Williams has been disappointing most of the season, while Joe Johnson hasn’t shined either. Brook Lopez has stayed relatively healthy this season, improved defensively and been probably the most consistent player for these Brooklyn Nets.
JM: With Rondo out of the All-Star game, the East needs a replacement player, and that man should be Brook Lopez. Adding Lopez for Rondo would cost the East a guard, but Lopez is the most deserving of the All-Star snubs in the East. Lopez has averaged almost 19 points and 7 rebounds a game, while helping the Nets to a 27-18 record, good for fourth in the conference. Lopez has been the best player in Brooklyn, and deserves a trip to Houston.
AL: Look at the PER ratings: who is behind only LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul? It is Brook Lopez! The Nets’ success this season has been predicated on his health. Although he is not a guard, positional matchups should not matter in this game. Send him to Houston!
Biggest All-Star snub? Why?
VL: As I already mentioned, Brook Lopez should definitely be an All-Star. But the biggest snub to me was Stephen Curry. Westbrook and Harden were locks to me, but Tony Parker wasn’t. Obviously the Spurs have the best record in the conference and Parker has been as solid as ever, but I just don’t see how you can leave Curry off the team. He has been great all season long, making the Golden State Warriors a feared team in the Western conference.
JM: While there are numerous players who could make a claim to be in the All-Star game, the biggest snub is the Golden State Warrior’s Steph Curry. Curry has been fantastic this season, putting up 21 points and 6.5 assists per game. He’s the 8th leading scorer in the league, and has helped the Warriors to a surprisingly good season. He has also shot 45% from three, which is astounding. Despite a very talented Western Conference, Curry’s season thus far should have earned him an All-Star spot.
AL: My biggest All-Star snub is Brook Lopez, but since I expect him to replace Rajon Rondo, my next largest snub would have to be Stephen Curry, who is actually slightly more deserving than teammate David Lee. Curry’s PER is better and he is the face of the franchise.