Basketball stadium


The 2021-22 season has been one of the most interesting in recent years. There are dozens of candidates for the MVP award, no clear frontrunner for the championship, great teams falling and overlooked teams thriving, plus, injuries and health and safety protocols disrupting the NBA.

The play-in tournament, it seems, is here to stay. Some love it and some hate it, but it has added some spicy drama and NBA gossip to an otherwise fairly typical drab ending to the regular season. There are many teams already out of playoff contention and ready to look towards free agency and the NBA Draft (Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. are likely the top three picks).

There has been little in the way of trade rumblings after the Finals will be wrapped up in June, but the NBA is unpredictable sometimes, so some star players could certainly be moved.

Oh, and Kansas won the NCAA men’s basketball championship, 72-69, over North Carolina. So, if you care about college hoops, then let’s go Jayhawks!

NBA Standings & News to Focus On

  • Lakers fall to Nuggets in AD’s second game back from injury
  • Celtics destroy Wizards by 42 points
  • Mavs get statement road win over Bucks
  • 76ers defeat Cavs in close game
  • Thunder surprise Suns with huge victory
  • Clippers keep rolling by beating Pelicans

Dallas climbs standings after big win over Milwaukee

Luka Doncic continues his case for the best up-and-coming young player in the NBA right now. The Croatian Wonder Kid finished the game with 32 points, 15 assists, and eight rebounds in a massive 118-112 victory over the Bucks.

Although Doncic didn’t have the best shooting night (9-22, 3-9 from the three-point line), he did make several visits to the free throw line and went 11-14. Since the trade of Porzingis to the Wizards, a lot of the offensive burden still falls on Doncic’s shoulders, but his Mavs teammates can prove reliable, with Dwight Powell adding 22 points and Spencer Dinwiddie chipping in with 11 off the bench.

This was a hard-fought win, too, as the Bucks had their stars on show, including Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday. Giannis was solid with 28 points and 10 rebounds, but the team could have used more from Middleton, especially, who only scored 11 points from 3-14 shooting.

Doncic is lighting up the league with averages of 28.3 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.1 rebounds per game, and is giving the Mavs a fighting chance for the title. Dallas is currently fourth in the West NBA standings, and isn’t far behind Golden State for third.

After the game, both Doncic and Giannis had nothing but praise for each other. “Obviously, when you play against superstars like Giannis today, you always have extra motivation,” said Doncic. “He’s a champion, a two-time MVP.” Giannis replied with similar statements: “He’s one of the most talented players in the league, one of the most talented players probably ever to play this game. We tried to make it tough for him, but he played well.”

It really was a back and forth game, but the Mavs finished on a high as the fourth quarter ended 28-25 in Dallas’ favor. Luka, in particular, was clutch in the last stage, and rallied his team to a huge win over the defending champs. This isn’t so bad for Milwaukee, as the team is currently third in the East NBA standings, and will drop at worst to fourth.

Lakers may not reach play-in tournament after loss to Nuggets

Things look great for the Nuggets, who keep on rolling despite missing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to injuries, as the team is currently fifth in the West and will easily avoid the play-in tournament. On the back of Nikola Jokic’s 38 points, 18 rebounds and six assists, Denver crushed the Lakers 129-118 and spoiled the return of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles lineup for his second night.

Denver had a lot of help, too, with Will Barton adding 25 points and Aaron Gordon contributing with 24 points and eight boards. Of course, Jokic was playing out of his mind and is single-handily pulling the Nuggets to a playoff run. The current MVP may well end up with another Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 2021-22 season.

LeBron James sat out in the loss against the Nuggets, as he is still trying to heal a lingering sprained left ankle that he’s been dealing with for over a week. These are must-win games for L.A., as the team is placed 11th in the West and might not be able to catch the Spurs in 10th to reach even the play-in tournament. This Lakers team was projected to win the championship, now it might be sitting out the entire playoffs.

The Lakers have now lost six games in a row, and it’s somehow not surprising, given the atrocious three-point shooting (6-20) and 13 turnovers. While Davis looked great in only his second game back from injury, with 28 points, nine boards, and eight assists, the absence of LeBron is too glaring and if things don’t turn around quickly, we’re not going to see the Lakers in the playoffs for the first time since 2019.

The supposed big three of LeBron, Davis, and Russell Westbrook is a clear failure, as the trio only played 21 games together and never looked right on the court. The Lakers will almost certainly look to trade Westbrook in the off-season, as it’s no secret that both sides aren’t happy with the fit in L.A.

One of the most interesting facts revealed about the previous off-season, in which the Lakers traded Westbrook for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, is that DeMar DeRozan was keen to join L.A. before all this happened.

Magic Johnson discussed that DeRozan could have teamed up with the Lakers, but LeBron and the front office staff decided to go in the direction of Westbrook. As a result, DeRozan joined Chicago and is spearheading a lively Bulls team that has silenced its critics. DeRozan is averaging 28.0 points, 5.0 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game, and has rejuvenated his career after an uninspiring stint in San Antonio.

“When I think about it, the blame that [LeBron has) gotta take is the fact that DeRozan ended up in Chicago and not with the Lakers,” Magic said in the interview. “DeRozan wanted to play for the Lakers, and when I got the call from his agent, I called the Lakers and said, ‘Hey, he wants to come home.’ And DeRozan could have been a Laker instead of a Bull.”

There’s no guarantee that DeRozan would have become the same player in Los Angeles as he would in Chicago, but surely this would have worked out better for the Lakers. It’s likely that L.A. could have kept at least two of the three players that were sent for Westbrook, and possibly re-signed Alex Caruso, who also joined Chicago. Instead, it’s a disappointing season in Lakerland that everyone will be eager to forget.

Two Exciting NBA Games Coming Up       

Check out these two matchups on the NBA schedule.

Cavs @ Nets on Friday 8th April

The Cavs started hot at the beginning of the season, but have significantly cooled off due to injuries to Sexton, Allen, and Rubio. At one point, this young Cleveland team could have done some real damage in the playoffs, but even with Garland and Mobley still kicking butt, the team is just too inexperienced in the post-season and won’t have the roster equipped for tougher teams.

The Nets are still… fine, but not what we assumed either at the start of the season. This has been because of Irving being unable to play much due to the COVID-19 vaccination rules, as well as Ben Simmons not even getting onto the court after the trade for James Harden. Durant is spectacular as always, even if his career-high 55 points came in a loss to Atlanta recently. If the Cavs want to scare the league, then they’ll need a win over Brooklyn, but it seems like the Nets will have enough firepower to handle everything.

Heat @ Magic on Sunday 10th April

These two Florida teams haven’t really had a good rivalry since the 90s, and things won’t change much now, but Orlando is getting better and better every season. Rookie Jalen Suggs has been pretty unspectacular, but fellow rookie Franz Wagner is easily the team’s most exciting prospect. Paired with Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz, Orlando will be fun to watch in a few years.

Miami has championship aspirations, and even if the recent in-fighting is a slight cause for alarm, everyone is professional enough to get the job done on the court. It’s easy to forget that the Heat almost beat the Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals, but with Butler, Lowry, and Adebayo all coming into form at the right time, they’ll get a win over Orlando here and be a tough matchup in the playoffs.

Author: Joe Garland