By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
As of this writing, Boston trails the Pacers by one game in the race for the fourth playoff seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs. They could be tied heading into Wednesday's game as the Pacers host Portland Monday night and the Celtics host New Jersey on Tuesday.
Boston has already beaten Indiana twice this season and holds the tiebreaker (head-to-head) if the teams finish with identical records.
Which brings us to the question: What's happened to the Pacers?
For a time, it looked as if the Pacers were going to be a No.1 or a No. 2 seed in the East. But since the All-Star break, the favorite team of a prominent NBA columnist from New York, has gone 5-12. The Celtics, meanwhile, have put together a respectable 11-6 record since the break.
Yet, as one Boston writer notes, it isn't time to set the playoff positions in stone just yet. (Boston Herald)
And why are the Pacers having such a hard time of it as of late? Some would say Ron Artest's antics may be to blame. One writer says it's more than that. (Indy Star)
WHO'S YOUR MVP?
Oh, the MVP race is heating up. And despite the subjectivity applied to the honor (Who's better, Who's best?), it is fun to speculate as to which player deserves the coveted award. (San Francisco Chronicle)
But if you believe speculation to be a bit messy, then maybe some cold, hard facts may sway your decision. Here's one way of looking at it, NBA.com's regular season Efficiency Rating. At the top is the lead dog of the Timberwolves. (NBA.com)
Meanwhile, last season's MVP, Tim Duncan, leads this query. (USA Today)
Then again, it's important to the Spurs not that Duncan wins the MVP again, but he gets back on the court after spraining his ankle against the Bulls on Sunday. (San Antonio Express-News)
THE TOP 75
As I wandered past one of the millions of newstands in the NY/NJ Port Authority bus terminal last week, a certain magazine cover caught my eye.
On it was a young Michael Jordan, circa 1984-85, with some hair wearing a bright red Bulls warmup jacket with the fly guy collar up in the back and the tips drooping just in front. He has a basketball in his left hand. Little did we know that basketball would soon become the world that he held there.
SLAM magazine has come out with its 75 best NBA players of all time and I don't think it takes a genius to figure out who's No. 1.
But Nos. 2 through 75 are quite intriguing. The highest rated active player besides MJ? Shaq at No. 9. The biggest snub? Sidney Moncrief, a personal favorite. Who shouldn't be in? He deserves all due respect for being an overall nice guy, but Grant Hill, after three injury filled seasons, wouldn't be a bad candidate to sit on the sidelines.
And Garnett at No. 70? One behind Dennis Rodman? A full 31 spots behind Dave DeBusschere? Much respect to Double D, but I don't agree. Oh well, pick it up and start arguments with your friends.
The East is wiiiiiiide open, and the Sixers know it. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
You know those pennies that gather at the bottom of the vacuum bag? Well, count 'em and see if you have enough to become an owner of an NBA team. Question is: Do you want the headache of owning one? (I would.) (Seattle Times)
Don't call them cheerleaders. (New York Times)
They surveyed some of the leading beat writers across the country to find an answer to this question: Who is the NBA Rookie of the Year? Survey says! (Houston Chronicle)
Might be a little too late now, but this is encouraging for Knicks fans. (Newsday)
It's been a tough year for Pat Riley. (Miami Herald)
Hey, an athlete that doesn't hold his peace about world peace. (San Francisco Chronicle)
And finally, we hope everything is well with Rudy T. (ESPN.com)