It's early, it's early, it's early - I keep telling myself that. Still, the Pacific Division standings are really chafing my thighs. Let's go through it:
1. Los Angeles Clippers (5-1): Alright, I've been dying to scream this out for a couple days now, so I'm just going to do it, OK? Don't try to stop me, I'm going to do it, alright? Here I go... (clears throat) ... THE CLIPPERS HAVE BEATEN THE HAWKS TWICE! There, I fricking said it. Two of those wins were AGAINST THE HAWKS. If you're a Western Conference team, you get two games against the Hawks. It's like an easy button, a game where you can pretty much just show up, have a pulse and almost be assured a victory. You might know it by its other name, the "Toronto Raptors." Fascinating creature.
2. Golden State Warriors (4-3; 1.5 GB): Compared to the Warriors early schedule, the Clippers itinerary looks downright daunting. Golden State, so far: W vs. Atlanta (see above), L vs. Utah, W at New York, W at Milwaukee, L at Chicago, W vs. New York, L at Phoenix. Okay, so you've played four games against teams projected for the playoffs, and you've won one of them (at Milwaukee - that's a good win). Your other three wins are against teams with a combined 0-11 record. You do the math, America.
3. (tied) Phoenix Suns (3-3; 2 GB): So far, they've won the games they should and lost the games they should lose. I see this repeating itself throughout the season. Let's move on, before I jinx something and Phoenix goes on a 15-1 tear.
3. (tied) Los Angeles Lakers of Mordor (3-3; 2 GB): It's currently unclear whether Smush Parker took the Kurt Warner Special on his last visit to Hades, or if he's just using the powers of Kreskin to lull his opponents into false security. If he keeps up his 14 ppg for another few weeks, my money is on the former.
5. Yooooooour Sacramento Kings (2-4; 3 GB): We've discussed the incredibly tough opening schedule before, so we won't bore you with that. As it marinates, though, I can't help but think the early turmoil of playing a number of good teams and losing a bunch of times might be good for the long haul of this squad. I'm not one to get mushy over players-only meetings - especially when a 28-year-old guy who is still getting kicked out of nightclubs, an insecure Serbian and a guy with a lifetime supply of Skoal are your leaders. But hey, whatever works, right? The road to recovery is upon us. I like to call it "The New York Knicks at home."
The schedules all even out in the end in the NBA, at least between division-mates. Sooner or later, the Clippers will be exposed, the Suns will show they're better than Warriors, the Lakers will become the perfect example of a .500 team by winning and losing games in perfect sequence, and the Kings will reclaim their crown as the toast of the Pacific.
All that can't happen soon enough.