TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on subtlety of Shane Battier, the impact on the Spurs of losing Tony Parker, the fine line Dwane Casey has to walk with the Raptors, the confidence of Larry Sanders in Milwaukee and the consistency of David West with the Pacers.
1. SHANE BATTIER (Heat): You look at the boxscore from Sunday's win over the Knicks and see he scored 12 points but the bigger factor was when and how. Seemed to me when the Heat needed to make their run, he made those clutch/timely shots. On top of that, all 12 points came from his 4-4 shooting behind the arc. His ability to shoot it from deep really opens the floor up for LeBron and D-Wade to operate at their best. He's a guy that does the 'subtle' things on the floor but he's much appreciated and respected by his teammates and coaches. Winning player.
2. TONY PARKER (Spurs): Was having a terrific season and then gets hurt. Spurs trying to fight off OKC (three games behind) for the top seed in the West. The positive: As much as it's a blow to lose Parker for a while, the good thing is they're tough to beat at home (24-3) and they wrap up the season with 14 of their final 21 games at home. The best possible place to weather the storm while Parker heals for late season games/playoffs.
3. RAPTORS (No Playoffs): Last week's 0-4 mark basically sunk them and, with 22 games remaining, it will be interesting to see how head coach Dwane Casey utilizes the minutes at his disposal. It's a fine line between development of young players and trying to create an improved level of results down the stretch that creates optimism/hope and winning expectations/performance when you look at the 2013-14 season. No right or wrong answer, just a matter of walking that fine line and trying to get some of both. Not easy to do considering the fact that you're a competitor and want to win every game you can. At same time, big picture is significant as well.
4. LARRY SANDERS (Bucks): He's playing with increased confidence and can really impact the game on the glass and as a shot-blocker. Impressed by his athleticism and length. You have to think about it when he's in the lane trying to block your shot. He's got excellent instincts.
5. DAVID WEST (Pacers): Can't say enough good things about him. A true pro. An undersized PF who plays big and tough. He had 31 points and 7 rebounds vs Chicago on Sunday. Takes games over in the big moments. Gives his team an attitude and edge and they truly believe they can compete with anyone. Won't win a beauty contest with high flying dunks and wicked skill but all he does is produce and more importantly, does it with consistency. Dependable player and a very good one at that.