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NBA Talking Points

The Eastern Conference still remains up for grabs with multiple big games within that top eight every week until April 11.

NBA Talking Points

Saying that the NBA is exciting at the moment is a huge understatement. Firstly, by now there should have been a clear indication of what the eventual seeding will be at the end of the regular season, but there isn’t. The Eastern Conference still remains up for grabs with multiple big games within that top eight every week until April 11. This week, the Miami Heat are scheduled to face four teams that are arguably most likely to reach the Conference Finals.

In the West, the Phoenix Suns are on a two-game skid without Chris Paul for the first time since December. The Golden State Warriors remain without Draymond Green and have also lost their last two games. With some key pieces back, the Utah Jazz seem to have recovered from their slump, the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets were great in February, and the Memphis Grizzlies remain one of the toughest young teams in recent memory.

Could Harden Be What The Sixers Have Been Waiting For?

While many probably focused more on Ben Simmons in the trade because of his lengthy drama with the Philadelphia 76ers organisation, some may have forgotten that the Sixers were in line to acquire one of the top three guards in the league – and they did. It is no surprise that pairing one of the best big men in the league at the moment in Joel Embiid, who is having an MVP-worthy season with Harden is already proving to be beneficial for the franchise. In his first game for the team, he put up 27 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists, then in his second outing with the squad he had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 16 assists. He played 39 minutes in that game and shot 8-for-14 from the floor, 3-for-7 from 3, and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. With the pick-and-roll that he and Embiid are playing, they will both be getting a lot of points from the charity stripe. Although many argue that Philadelphia gave up a lot in the trade, especially because they let a shooter like Seth Curry go in the deal, Harden brings shooting prowess both from mid-range and behind the arc. With the pieces around them, if they are able to maintain their current trajectory, the 76ers, who are third in the Eastern Conference and only two games behind the top-seeded Miami Heat, will find that Harden may indeed be the piece they have been missing.  

The Lakers’ Woes Continue

Some might try to put all the blame on some of Russell Westbrook’s performances, but it was never a good idea to assemble one of the oldest squads in the league at the moment, that does not play good defence, and expect to have a championship chasing season. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the Los Angeles Lakers this season. They are currently without All-Star Anthony Davis, and even with LeBron James averaging 28 points, eight rebounds and six assists, they continue to lose games. They are currently ninth in the West with a 27 – 34 record and have lost their last three games against the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks. They are scheduled to play back-to-backs this week against the Clippers and the Warriors and then will face the young San Antonio Spurs after a day’s break. The way things a looking, the best the Lakers will do this season is appear in the play-in game and if they make it to the postseason, a high possibility of an early exit.  

Will Kyrie Playing Home Games Gets The Nets Better Seeding

It is now highly probable that Brooklyn Nets Star Kyrie Irving could start playing home games after New York mayor Eric Adams announced recently that the city would lift its Covid-19 mandate on March 7 as long as the city’s indicators show a low level of risk this week. Besides the fact that Irving has been a part-time player, the Nets have not been impressive this season and have also had their injury issues, especially to key players like Kevin Durant, Joe Harris and even James Harden – when he was there. They are still to see how Ben Simmons will fit into their system, but time is running out for them to get a good seeding, but the increased presence of one of the best point guards in the league, who has averaged 25.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the 15 games he has played, could save them from embarrassments such as the recent 35-point blowout at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. They will probably not get the top spot as expected at the beginning of the season, but at least could possibly end the season in the top five.

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