NBA Weekly Report: April 6-12

Russell Finelsen, Assistant Editor, Sports Editor

As the NBA season winds down to its end on April 15, the playoff hunt heats up even more. And, even though not all the headlines in this article can relate to the playoffs, they are important for any NBA fan.

1. Steph Curry breaks three-pointer record

The Golden State Warriors’s Stephen Curry is known for his three-point shooting. On April 9, though, he let the record books know.

In a game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Curry had 45 points, including eight treys. With the fifth triple, he broke his own NBA record for most three-pointers made in a single season. His previous record, set in the 2012-2013 season, was 272. After the game, though, it was 276.

Including that game, Curry has attempted 625 threes, which leads the league. Thus, he makes 44.2% of three-pointers.

In addition, last year, he made 261 triples, which is now fifth on the all-time list.

Curry has played one game since then, against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In that game, he hit five treys, which raises his season total to 281. He can increase it even more in the Warriors’s final two games of the regular season, which are against the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets.

2. Eleven people to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an elite place. It is also very hard to get inducted into. Eleven people, though, completed that feat.

These eleven people will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2015. These people include Dick Bavetta, John Calipari, Spencer Haywood, Dikembe Mutombo, Jo Jo White, and Lisa Leslie. In addition, due to their efforts to preserve the game of basketball, Louis Dampier, John Isaacs, Lindsay Gaze, Tom Heinsohn, and George Raveling were elected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. All of these men and women were spectacular in one way or another.

Bavetta was an NBA referee for 39 years, from 1975-2014. He started officiating for the CBA in 1966 and ended in 1975. Since then, he has refereed in the NBA, Rucker Park Summer League (1966-1986), the Jersey Shore Basketball League (1972-2007), FIBA (1980-1992), and the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, becoming the first NBA official to referee the Olympics. In the NBA, he refereed 2,635 consecutive regular season games, which is the most all-time in any league. He also refereed 270 playoff games in 29 straight seasons and 27 NBA Finals games.

Calipari never coached in the NBA but is one of the best coaches at the college level. From 1988 to this year (and counting), he coached the University of Massachusetts, University of Memphis, and the University of Kentucky. At UMass, Calipari won five Atlantic 10 regular season championships and five Atlantic 10 Tournament championships. At Memphis, he led the Tigers to four Conference USA regular season championships, three Conference USA Tournament championships, two Elite Eights (2006-2007), and the 2002 NIT Tournament. At Kentucky, Calipari has won three SEC regular season championships, three SEC championships, and the 2012 NCAA Championships. He also led the Wildcats to six Elite Eights and four Final Fours. Furthermore, Calipari is a three-time Naismith College Coach of the Year, three-time National Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year, and nine-time Conference Coach of the Year.

Haywood played 12 years in the NBA from 1970-1983. He scored 14,952 points, had 7,028 boards, and won the 1980 NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was an All-Star from 1972-1975 and All-NBA First Team member in 1973 and 1974. Before that, he played with the Denver Nuggets in the ABA, winning Rookie of the Year and All Star Game MVP. He holds four ABA single season records, which include most minutes played (3,808), field goals made (986), rebounds (1,637), and highest rebounding average (19.5).

Mutombo played from 1991-2009 in the NBA. He was an eight-time All-Star, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and led the league in blocks from 1994-1998 and blocks per game from 1994-1996. He was also on the NBA All-Rookie team in 1992 and All-NBA second team in 2001. He had 11,729 point, 12,359 rebounds, and 3,289 blocks, but was mostly known for his finger-wagging motion after every blocked shot.

White played from 1969-1981, and his first ten years were with the Boston Celtics. He was an All-Star from 1971-1977 and won the 1974 and ‘76 NBA Championships with the Celtics. He was the NBA Finals MVP in ’76. He was also on the All-Rookie team in 1970 and All-NBA second team in 1975 and ’77. In his career, he averaged 17.2 points, 4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.

Leslie played in the WNBA from 1997 to 2009. She played her entire career with the Los Angeles Sparks, and was an eight-time All-Star. She also won the MVP award three times and two championships with the Sparks in 2001 and 2002. She leads the league in all-time rebounds with 3,307 and is second all-time in blocks with 822. She won the gold medal four times in the Olympics (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008). She was also the first WNBA player ever to dunk.

The ABA committee chose Louis Dampier for the Hall of Fame based on his playing time with the league. The ABA only lasted from 1967-1976; however, he played all nine seasons in the league with only one team: the Kentucky Colonels. He led the league all-time in games played (728), minutes played (27,770), points scored (13,726), and assists (4,044). In the ABA, Dampier was also a seven-time All-Star and won the ABA Championship in 1975. Furthermore, he was on the All-Rookie First Team in 1968.

The Contributor Direct Election Committee elected George Raveling for the Hall of Fame. He is the current Director of International Basketball for Nike. Previously, though, he was a historic coach. As an assistant coach, he was at Villanova from 1963-1969 and Maryland from 1970-1972; in the 1970-1971 season, he helped the Terrapins go undefeated. As a head coach for Washington State, Iowa, and Southern California, he led the teams to four NCAA tournaments and won four coach of the year awards (three in 1992). In addition, he was the first African-American coach in the Pac-12 and the ACC. He received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

John Isaacs was elected by the Early African American Pioneers Committee. He led the New York Renaissance to a 112-7 record and the World Professional Basketball Tournament Championship in 1939. He won a second title with the Washington Bears. He was inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and was a great person. Unfortunately, he died in 2009.

The International Committee chose Lindsay Gaze. As either a player or coach, Gaze has appeared in seven Olympics from 1960 to 1984. In the National Basketball League, he coached the Melbourne Tigers to the 1993 and 1997 championships while winning Coach of the Year in 1989, 1997, and 1999. Gaze was already inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame and FIBA Hall of Fame.

Finally, Tim Heinsohn was chosen by the Veterans Committee. He was already inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1986, but will now be inducted as a coach, which was only previously done by Bill Sharman, John Wooden, and Lenny Wilkens. He coached the Boston Celtics from 1969 to 1978 while leading the team to victories in the 1974 and ’76 NBA championships. During his career, he was 427-623. This includes a 68-14 record in 1973, when he won the Coach of the Year award. Today, he is a studio analyst for television broadcasts of Boston Celtics games.

To be elected, finalists for an induction have to receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee. The committee chooses who will be inducted. Meanwhile, the direct elect committees voted for their own inductees; these committees were included so as to maintain a strong focus on the sport’s history and future.

The induction ceremony will be held September 10-12 of this year during the Enshrinement Ceremonies. The ceremonies will be held in Springfield, Massachusetts.

3. The San Antonio Spurs keep winning…

The San Antonio Spurs have been on fire lately. Even though they have already clinched a playoff spot, they are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies at the top of the Southwest Division. And, this is mostly due to their last ten games.

The Spurs have won their past ten, with many of them crucial wins. They have beaten the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder twice. They have also beaten the Dallas Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Golden State Warriors. And, other than a one point win over the Rockets, all their wins have been by at least 12 games.

The Spurs play their last two games against the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. Thus, they could carry a winning streak into the playoffs.

4. …while the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers keep losing.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers are in a tight fight, not for the best record, but for the worst record in the NBA. And, their last few games have shown why they are so bad.

The 76ers have lost eight straight games. These include losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, and Denver Nuggets. In addition, they have lost ten of their last eleven games.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have lost ten straight games. They have lost to the Lakers, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, and Orlando Magic. In addition, they have lost eleven of twelve.

The Timberwolves are currently 16-64 and are tied with the Knicks for the worst record in the league. Meanwhile, the 76ers are 18-62 and two games ahead of both teams. Each team has two games left, which means the race for the league’s worst record will go right down to the wire.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers clinch number two seed in Eastern Conference

It was 99-97 with less than 16 seconds left on the clock. The Cleveland Cavaliers were leading the Milwaukee Bucks on April 9 with a number two seed on the line. The Cavaliers then gave the ball to LeBron James from beyond the arc. You know the rest.

James drained a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to seal a Cavaliers win and secure a two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

This was Cleveland’s eighth victory in nine games. The victory also gave the Cavaliers the Central Division title.

This is the fifth time in James’s career that the team he is playing on has secured a two seed. In addition, this is the seventh consecutive season that a team with James on it has won a division title.

This should be a good sign for the Cavaliers, who will play a team with a losing record in the playoffs. Most likely, with this high seeding, they will reach the second round and possibly the Eastern Conference finals.

6. Derrick Rose returns to play

Chicago Bull star Derrick Rose missed another 20 games this season due to surgery. And, he was not expected to return in the regular season. However, he had a different thought.

On April 8, Derrick Rose returned to play the Orlando Magic. Even though Rose only played 19:24, he still scored nine points and had two assists as the Bulls lost after Victor Oladipo hit a buzzer beater.

Even though Rose did not contribute much, expect him to be a big force for the Bulls in the playoffs.

As a note, on Thursday, April 16, the final NBA Weekly Report for this season will be published. For that article, I will recount all the final playoff seeds and other NBA news.