Southeast Division Checkup
1. Atlanta Hawks (7-2)
2. Miami Heat (4-3)
3. Washington Wizards (3-3)
4. Orlando Magic (3-5)
5. Charlotte Hornets (2-4)
*Photo via AJC
After dropping the first game of the season to the Detroit Pistons, The Atlanta Hawks have found their groove, currently riding a seven game win streak. On this streak, they’ve had four divisional games, two against the Hornets, then the Heat and the Wizards. The Hawks have remained true to last seasons form; six Hawks are currently averaging double-digit points per game. While the team lead the Eastern Conference with assists per game at 26.5.
The Hawks upcoming schedule is rather easy, playing several subpar teams. However, there are two games to watch out for, beginning on November 15th against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz have been a surprise to start this season following their strong finish to end last year. The next game is on November 21st we get the Eastern Conference finals rematch: Hawks versus The Cleveland Cavaliers. After being swept last year, we can expect the Hawks to come out and try to make a statement.
*Photo via USA Today
The Heat’s record doesn’t truly show how well they have been playing. They’ve lost three games which have been to the Cavs, Pacers and Hawks. In these losses, they have lost by no more than ten points. Down by 20 against the Houston Rockets, the Heat were able to rally back and win by 20 themselves. Early on we’ve seen the Dwyane Wade of old, however, his health will remain the x-factor. Hassan Whiteside has used this early part of the season to throw his name in the mix for elite centers. Whiteside is averaging just under 15 points per game, while pulling down 10.7 rebounds a game. Oh, and he's rejecting four shots a night. Justise Winslow, the rookie from Duke, has already made an imprint as well for his work on the defensive end. His offense hasn’t been eye popping but he does the little things.
The Heat are entering a stretch with no elite teams coming up these next two weeks. However, they will be playing the Utah Jazz, who as I said earlier have been a surprise thus far. Along with this, it will be interesting to see how the Heat handle these mediocre teams. Keep an eye out to see how Goran Dragic is used; his usage has been down this season in the Heat’s offense.
Gerald Green - Green has missed the last four games after being admitted into the hospital for undisclosed reasons. Green was released on the seventh, when he returns to the team is still unclear.
*Photo via USA Today
The Wizards started off the season with two hard fought wins on the road. But they have since they have been shaky, despite defeating the San Antonio Spurs by the clutch three made by, Bradley Beal with .3 remaining. (The top play from the division above). The Wizards have lost two straight, both by double digits. The Wizards have had issues on offense with only three players averaging over ten a game. The bright side has been Beal who averaging 22.7 points per game, while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from behind the arc.
The Wizards have a tough couple weeks ahead of them; they are playing three teams over 500. They start off by playing the Oklahoma City Thunder, which will be interesting to watch, since rumors are Kevin Durant could be headed to DC.
*Photo via Getty Images
The most entertaining team to watch thus far in the NBA is the Magic. Yes, you read that correctly! In their four losses this season, they haven't lost by more than five. Two of the losses came in overtime and one was a double overtime thriller against the Thunder. This young team and core has been playing with great energy, and it seems on any given night a different guy steps up. Evan Fournier has made leaps and bounds thus far to his game. Besides Fournier’s solid shooting, he has also been more aggressive with driving to the hoop. The evolution to his game has been key to this hot start by the Magic.
The upcoming schedule has six games in the next two weeks, with one being a divisional game against the Wizards. Every divisional game always brings up the intensity and this one should be no different. Over these next six games, it will be important to see if the young core of the Magic can keep up their intensity.
*Photo via Getty Images
The season didn’t start so hot with three straight losses to divisional opponents. However, they have played tightly contested games despite their last loss to the Spurs. The Hornets have been living by the three, but are shooting as a team 36 percent from behind the arc. The contributions on offense have as well been spread out, as six Hornets are averaging double digit points a game.
The Hornets have seven games in the next two weeks. The key games come at the end of this week against the Chicago Bulls on Friday, and the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday. Both of these match ups should inspire some good basketball, especially since the Hornets defeated the Bulls earlier this season by 25. The set starting five for this season isn’t set in stone, due to the loss of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but over the next few weeks we should see the rotation solidify.