Here are the NBA storylines that I think are fun heading into 2023 – The Denver Post
When fully healthy, the Milwaukee Bucks are probably the best team in the NBA. They break the window. They are organized defensively. They stick to their offensive principles. They have Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Somewhere along the line, however, due to Antetokounmpo’s utter dominance, many saw Milwaukee as a one-man show. The absence of Khris Middleton proves the exact opposite.
Which is why I just think it’s funny how Bucks fans slander a man who is clearly vital to their championship hopes.
Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer says here in Brooklyn that Middleton’s knee injury isn’t healing as quickly as the team had hoped – and Bucks fans are already trying to ship this man for Kyle Kuzma .
May I remind you that if Middleton had been available for Milwaukee’s second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, it might be the Bucks holding up the NBA Finals trophy at the end of the season. Not the Golden State Warriors.
And may I remind you that it was Middleton who averaged 24 points per game to support Antetokounmpo in the 2021 NBA Finals in Milwaukee.
Sometimes you don’t really know what you’ve got until he’s gone, and the Bucks just suffered two losses – one here in Brooklyn and another on Christmas Day to the Boston Celtics – putting them through from first to second in the East.
If the Bucks have any hope of making it back to the NBA Finals, the Celtics and Nets will be on their way – and as formidable as Antetokounmpo is, Milwaukee will struggle to get back to the Finals if Middleton doesn’t have time to make sure he is in good health.
I just think it’s funny how the Warriors and Nets have kind of traded places this season.
Last year, due to injuries, Kyrie Irving not being vaccinated, and James Harden being traded for Ben Simmons mid-season, the Nets never had a chance to build the necessary chemistry. to make a deep playoff run. This was evident when the Celtics swept the Nets off the floors of Barclays Center in the first round of the playoffs last season.
The Warriors are kind of in that bucket now, which is why I asked Steve Kerr how many games a team needs to play to get that pace in the playoffs.
“There is no fixed number of games, but we are well aware that our margin of error decreases as the season goes on simply because we are quite far down the table and we have to make a run here at a moment,” he said. “And we’re confident we can do it, but with this kind of start to the season you’re really vulnerable later on if you get injured again.
“So we know where we are. We love our team and we love where we can go, but we understand that we have to pull ourselves together here.
I started thinking about this question when Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal debated it on “Inside the NBA.” With so many guys in and out of rotation to start the season, I wondered if the Nets would have enough time to build chemistry this year (narrator: they do).
Shaq, who won four NBA titles during his Hall of Fame career, said a team needs 30 games in perfect health to be a serious contender come playoff time.
Barkley said teams need to play the full second half of the season healthy to make a real push. Much the same as Shaq’s 30-game measure, but all after the All-Star break.
The Warriors this season have only played 12 full-strength games. Stephen Curry is out for an extended period with the first shoulder injury of his career. Andrew Wiggins has not played since early December due to a groin injury. Klay Thompson’s knee will need monitoring all season. The Warriors beat the Grizzlies on Christmas, but they’re still 11th in the Western Conference.
Time is running out for the Warriors to get into playoff shape. The Grizzlies, Nuggets, Suns and Pelicans all position themselves at the top of the conference. And if the Warriors fall in the Play-In tournament, anything can happen against LeBron James or Luka Doncic in a sudden death situation.
A THREE PEAT JOKER?
I think it’s hilarious in real life that one of the lowliest NBA stars in the game’s history could be the first three-round MVP since Larry Bird.
Nikola Jokic is very clearly “him” to the point that it doesn’t look like there will be voter fatigue holding him back from MVP ballots this season. Antetokounmpo’s raw strength might make him the most dominant player in the league, but Jokic does almost everything Antetokounmpo can (at least offensively) – except with more grace, deeper reach and better shooting instincts. Game.
Last season I voted for Joel Embiid as MVP. Embiid had a solid record until he was injured. Then the Joker took a leap. This season, Jokic is the runaway favorite and it will take an injury or another crazy player to catch him.
Although Luka Doncic’s historic 60-point triple-double with 20 rebounds surely puts him at the forefront of the conversation.
HA HA HARDEN
I just think it’s funny how James Harden never knows what he wants.
The man forced a trade from Houston to Brooklyn, said he wanted to be in Philadelphia all along and now, amid an eight-game Sixers winning streak, reports have surfaced suggesting he wants RETURN TO HOUSTON if things don’t go well. train in Philadelphia this season.
On the one hand, we support the King’s right to exercise his options. But for Harden, these are pure jokes.
Because if the goal is to win a championship, returning to Houston where Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. — two rising stars who need the ball in their hands — are still years away from being playoff proficient won’t probably isn’t the best idea.
You know what else is a bad idea? Exit Embiid. It’s Embiid who is leading the Sixers to a deep playoff run this season. Harden makes sure he has the ball.
TALKING ABOUT KLAY’S TRASH
Finally, I just think it’s funny how Klay Thompson is very clearly everyone’s spirit animal.
The Warriors and Grizzlies clearly have a history – from when the Grizzlies eliminated them in the Play-In Tournament two seasons ago to when the Warriors beat them 4-2 in the Conference Semifinals West last season en route to an NBA title.
The Grizzlies are a confident bunch who outwardly believe their time has come — not that they’re next. Thompson and the Warriors are there to remind them that they still have a long way to go.
That’s why the Christmas Day showdown was so fun, because there was so much back and forth chatter, headlined by Thompson, who hit a pull-up, and when Dillon Brooks hit Steven Adams trying to challenge, then fell to the ground. , Thompson strutted over him – almost like Allen Iverson stepping over Tyrone Lue – and said a few words that earned him a technical foul.
“Just good old fashioned trash talk. I didn’t think that warranted a technique, but I forgot the taunt rule,” Thompson deadpanned after the win. “It’s always fun to talk about trash. We’ve been doing this since we were in middle school.”
The funniest thing Thompson said was to Malika Andrews during the post-game interview.
“They [the Grizzlies] were talking about dynasty and all that. You can’t say dynasty when you’ve never won before,” Thompson said with a huge smile on his face. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is – the commitment and the sacrifice. You have to sacrifice your body. And I thought it was premature speech to even mention that word, but they bring out the best in us.
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These are things that I just found funny. Come back for the flight. 2 next month.