TSN's Jack Armstrong offers his thoughts on Raptors small forward Steve Novak, Nets shooting guard Marcus Thornton's firepower and deep range, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's talent and the Chicago Bulls' harder work on the court.
1. HUGE GAME: I'm here in NYC for the Raptors at Nets game Monday night. Some games are just bigger than others and this is one of them. Four games separate them for first place in the Atlantic. Tie-breaker at stake, as well. A win by the Raps would be a major step with only 20 games to play beyond this one. Both are on a back-to-back. It's a tough challenge for Toronto versus a desperate opponent. I can't wait.
2. STEVE NOVAK (Raptors): The five three-pointers at Minnesota were major. Patrick Patterson is out and it's all about digging deeper into your bench and he delivered. The sum is more important than the parts. Love how Landry Fields and Chuck Hayes have performed when needed as well.
3. MARCUS THORNTON (Nets): 27 points Sunday night versus his old Kings team. A terrific pickup for Brooklyn. He gives them firepower and deep range. Streaky scorer who can change a game quick if he's hot. He did that on Sunday night. He is the perfect complement off the bench for their team.
4. RAJON RONDO (Celtics): 11 points and 18 assists on Sunday versus the Pistons. GM Danny Ainge's phone will be ringing off the hook this summer if he keeps dropping as many dimes as he did on Sunday. He's a wonderful talent and if he gets back to being the explosive lead guard he once was, watch out!
5. CHICAGO BULLS: Watched their overtime win over the Heat on Sunday. What can you say, other than wow! No team in the NBA plays harder than them. Coach Thibodeau gets after it and Joakim Noah is that guy you want on your side. Hustle truly is a talent.