Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

Logo for Diehlman at Halftime column. - Graphics Editor / Jana Jackstis

Since I did an article about love being in the air for Valentine’s Day, I think something resembling St. Patrick’s Day could work as well. First and foremost, for those of you who celebrate the occasion, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Now, back to our regularly schedule programming.

Why can’t the 76ers have the luck of the Irish?

Joel Embiid got injured yet again. This time, it’s a bone bruise that’s expected to keep him out for two to three weeks.

Embiid has put together an MVP-caliber season under new 76ers coach Doc Rivers. For now though, Philadelphia is going to rely on Ben Simmons to carry them to some wins.

They’re off to a good start so far, winning the last two at home against San Antonio and New York. It was the first time 76ers fans were allowed inside the Wells Fargo Center since last March.

Another instance of bad luck involves the Los Angeles Lakers. Anthony Davis is most likely going to miss a few more weeks with leg issues.

LeBron James is getting old, and it isn’t good for him to be backpacking the team before the playoffs. Like Embiid, James is in the MVP race. Unlike the 76ers, though, L.A. has been doing the opposite of winning. Let’s just say they aren’t winning back-to-back titles if they don’t get their act together.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

1 Highlight, 1 Lowlight, 1 Random Stat

Highlight: I know I talked about the Indiana Pacers in my highlight last week, but this is important. A new player made his debut on the team: Caris LeVert. LeVert was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the James Harden blockbuster trade.

Although some players may be sad to leave their team, this is an exception. Why? This trade saved his life because doctors found cancer on his left kidney. Fortunately, they were able to perform surgery, and now he’s back on the court.

In LeVert’s first game with his new squad, he dropped 13 points, seven rebounds and two assists, as the Pacers beat the Phoenix Suns on the road 122-111.

Considering the events of the last year with the pandemic, this is a story that we all need to hear: someone fighting through adversity and overcoming it. Hopefully, LeVert uses this as motivation as Indiana seeks a playoff spot.

Lowlight: Do you guys smell something? It’s a smell that you go back and forth on whether it smells alright or just flat-out horrible. Getting closer, closer… oh, I got it! It’s the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Since 2016, they have only had one winning season. They went 47-35 in 2017-18 before the Rockets shot them out of a cannon in the first round 4-1.

We all remember the infamous Jimmy Butler experiment. In case you don’t, all you need to know is that Butler, a star, beat his other first-string teammates in practice with the third-string players. Third-stringers are basically the benchwarmers and nobodies.

Former top draft pick Andrew Wiggins was shipped off to Golden State last season. It’s only been getting worse for the Timberwolves.

Right now, Minnesota is 9-31, the only team in the NBA still under 10 wins. Head coach Ryan Saunders was recently fired mid-season and replaced by Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. Nothing will be done in the near future, but someone needs to get on a plane to Minneapolis and fix this team.

Star center Karl-Anthony Towns is wasting his career there, and I have a feeling Anthony Edwards, their number one overall pick this year, will do the same. And to think the temperatures and snow were the coldest things in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Random Stat: Actually, on Saturday, we had two random stats. Ain’t that impressive! Both involve the all-time scoring list.

Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trailblazers passed Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon for the 11th spot. He needs roughly 300 points to crack the top 10.

Also, Brooklyn’s James Harden passed Boston Celtics great Larry Bird for 34th all-time. He needs roughly 1,400 points to cement himself in the top 30.

Over the years, both Anthony and Harden have shown that they are capable of getting buckets night in and night out. And when their shooting is hot, they delete the word “miss” from their dictionary.

Anthony led the league in scoring just once in 2012-13 while he was with the Knicks. He averaged 28.7 points per game.

For three straight seasons, from 2017-2020, Harden led the league in scoring. He averaged 33.6 points per game in that time, which is ridiculous in today’s league! Harden probably won’t do this anymore because teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can drop 30 on any given night, but he’s still a threat on his new squad. Congratulations to both!

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