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Armstrong: Five thoughts on Cheeks, Raptors and more

Jack Armstrong
2/10/2014 12:50:58 PM
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FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS

1. MO CHEEKS (Pistons): Out as coach. Am I surprised? No. The team is dysfunctional and is a collection of parts that don't know how to or want to commit to playing team ball. Talent - sure they've got that but they look like a summer AAU team with a bunch of guys that are looking to showcase their individual games. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are Exhibit A and B. When does President/GM Joe Dumars eventually admit that he's lost his way and submit his resignation? How many more coaches are going to be blamed for his moves? Maybe Lionel Hollins comes in and saves Dumars' job. Hollins is a no-nonsense coach who won't tolerate what's gone on there of late. Better get this right and quick.

2. TORONTO RAPTORS SCHEDULE: Have played a ton (28) of road games already. At 14-14 that's respectable but the time to win the Atlantic Division and also try to claim the third seed in the East has come. 19 of the final 32 games are at home. They have under-performed at home with a record of 12-10 and for this season to take off in a positive direction again the assertive play must reappear. To have a really nice season you hang around .500 on the road which they've done and you take no prisoners at home. The schedule has turned with no more than two games in a row on the road the rest of the way. Time to get it done. They are more than capable of doing it.

3. GORAN DRAGIC (Suns): You see his numbers (27 points and six assists) since he was snubbed from the West All-Star team. The man is on a mission. Without Eric Bledsoe he has kept his team at a high level. He's wonderfully skilled but what I've seen of late as well is a little nasty streak like he's got even more to prove. Good for him. He's doing it.

4. TAJ GIBSON (Bulls): He has been given the opportunity to start and play more minutes and he's delivering. Love his energy and second effort. Improved his face-up game and can get his game off in the lane though he's a bit undersized. Considering that Carlos Boozer looks like a guy that will be amnestied next season it's going to be important in this homestretch of the season to determine if Gibson can carry starter's minutes and hold up effectively. So far - solid.

5. NIKOLA VUCEVIC (Magic): Back from a concussion and suddenly the Magic are beating elite teams. He's a terrific young player who was an absolute steal for them. When he's played this year he is scoring over 13 points and getting close to 11 boards a game while shooting 50 per cent. The stability of having a guy you can throw it into the post and get productivity from is so helpful. He's a tough guy on the backboards and competes hard. Knows and accepts his role and is a good long term fit for their franchise. A keeper.

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