Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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

We love our sports, right? We loved them more when there wasn’t COVID-19 restricting everything, but sports keep us sane. However, arguably the worst part about the athletics world is injuries and health concerns.

Although I’d say a close second is the Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater against the 76ers in Game 7 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals, injuries and health concerns are at the front.

As I mentioned last week, Denver point guard Jamal Murray is gone for the year with a torn ACL. Warriors’ rookie James Wiseman is finished because of a torn meniscus. Now, LaMarcus Aldridge just retired in the middle of the season because of an irregular heartbeat that he’s dealt with for years.

He played 21 games with the San Antonio Spurs this year, got bought out at the trade deadline and then joined Brooklyn for a grand total of five games. An abrupt end to a fascinating career isn’t what anyone wants, but family and health are what’s most important. If you’re trying to make up your mind between a sport and family, I’d recommend revising the choices.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

1 Highlight, 1 Lowlight, 1 Random Stat

Highlight: Does anyone know why I’m hearing the “Purge” sirens ringing? I have a theory, and it’s one that no one saw coming: the New York Knicks are on a seven-game winning streak.

Grab all of your belongings because the apocalypse has arrived.

We’ve seen a shocking, yet awesome, turnaround from New York in the last few months. Before the 2019-20 season, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving went to the Nets because the Knicks’ free agent magnet actually repels. As in, it doesn’t attract.

A large reason is that their front office is run by some people (*cough* James Dolan *cough*) who couldn’t manage a basketball team at the elementary school level! Julius Randle is putting the Knicks back on the map, though, bringing his team to fifth in the Eastern Conference. They have their longest winning streak in years.

What’s probably killing them more is that they haven’t made the playoffs since 2013. Having a COVID-reduced crowd at the Garden should get the Knicks in the mood for a playoff run. The Nets might be the alpha dog in New York right now, but the Knicks are about to flex their muscles.

Lowlight: Last week marked the 109th anniversary of the unfortunate sinking of the Titanic. Oddly, there’s a Titanic getting ready to sink in the NBA, in the form of the San Antonio Spurs.

This team needs to rebuild badly.

They had their fun over the years. Tim Duncan, a.k.a. “The Big Fundamental,” gave them five rings. Head coach Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in league history, leading San Antonio to the playoffs 22 consecutive times. It was a historic streak that was snapped last year.

Despite all of this success, the Spurs aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. LaMarcus Aldridge was released last month. I’m not sure how much whiter Popovich’s hair can get. And then there’s DeMar DeRozan.

Let me say this: DeRozan is an all-time great Toronto Raptor. He’s also a proven scorer… I think he’d be better in a different era, though (perhaps in the ’90s). His mid-range abilities are so rare these days, since everyone wants to either do layups or chuck up three-pointers from the other team’s basket.

For now, the Spurs are using Scotch tape to repair a gaping hole left by an iceberg. Can they fix it before it’s too late?

Random Stat: Steph Curry is not human… oh wait. You guys knew that already? I was just checking because it’s true.

This man has been on a blitzkrieg lately, so don’t even try calling the fire department to cool him off!

Last week, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain to become the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer. In four of his last five games, he’s hit at least ten three-pointers. Also, he just surpassed Kobe Bryant for most consecutive games (11) with 30+ points by a player aged 33 or older! I’m surprised players aren’t crying in their pre-game interviews when they have to play Golden State.

Curry is already the greatest shooter in NBA history, and he’s getting better and better with age. When they get Klay Thompson back from injury next year, and if they can get a bench that sort of resembles the bench they had during their dynasty, don’t be confused when the league orders the baskets to be made smaller.

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