Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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

We all know what happens when you receive good news: you have to ask yourself, “What’s the catch?”

Even if you don’t want to think about the negatives, they unfortunately come up. So, let’s start with the positive news.

More fans are being allowed into arenas across the league. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers are opening their doors to full capacity starting on Wednesday, June 2. The New York Knicks were only going to give tickets out to fully-vaccinated fans if they advanced to the second round, thereby filling up Madison Square Garden. This will give arenas a real playoff atmosphere that was desperately lacking last season.

In case you weren’t aware, though, the NBA dealt with at least four separate fan incidents at games this past week. Someone dumped popcorn on Russell Westbrook’s head in Philadelphia as he was heading to the locker room to have an injury looked at. Another fan spit in the direction of Trae Young in New York. A few Jazz fans hurled sexual and racial slurs at Ja Morant and his family, as well as racial slurs to teammate Dillon Brooks and his family. Finally, a fan threw a water bottle in the direction of Kyrie Irving.

In no way is this behavior acceptable anywhere. Fans can root for their team and boo their rivals. At the end of the day, it’s a game.

It’s a game, people. Hopefully the league cracks down on this to prevent future incidents.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

1 Highlight, 1 Lowlight, 1 Random Stat

Highlight: The Jazz are moving on to the next round. They have defeated the Grizzlies 4-1 lead. The only win Memphis had was in the first game, which was in Utah.

However, fans will point to the fact that Donovan Mitchell was absent. One reason that Jazz fans may have been nervous, though, is because of last year. Quin Snyder’s group choked a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the “Bubble playoffs.”

Despite this, Utah will face the winner of the Clippers-Mavericks series. [This week’s “Lowlight” section discusses the latter teams].

Something to note here is that the Grizzlies, who hosted Games three and four, scored more points than their opponent in the fourth quarters. But both of these were Jazz victories.

In Game four, former Grizzly Mike Conley hit a late cold-blooded shot. As fun as this series has been, since we’re witnessing the superstar forms of Mitchell and Morant, all fun things must come to an end. The Jazz ended this song to come with an electrifying conclusion.

Lowlight: Well, this is certainly a turnaround no one saw coming. The Mavericks and Clippers are now tied 2-2 in their series, with Game five heading back to Staples Center in Los Angeles.

L.A. was ready to once again make themselves the league’s punch line. However, after losing the first two games at home, they took two road wins against the Mavericks.

In Game four on Sunday, Dallas appeared dead with a capital “D.” They couldn’t get anything to go on offense, and their defense made the rocks in the parking lot look like candidates for All-Defensive First Team! Luka Dončić complaining of neck stiffness also didn’t help the Mavs.

This team desperately needs someone to step up in this series while Dončić is recovering — even if he’s playing. The inconsistency of Kristaps Porziņģis isn’t going to cut it. Unless your name is LeBron Raymone James, carrying a team is next to impossible. I’d be concerned if Dallas loses their next game.

[The Mavericks won the next game in the series, putting the series in their favor 3-2]

Random Stat: Brooklyn won their series 4-1, leaving Boston in the dust. If you’re a Nets fan, my guess is that your reaction to Brooklyn’s one defeat in Game three was, “Well, we’re winning the title. We can afford one loss to the lowly Celtics.”

The game was interesting for both sides. The Boston faithful booed Irving, their former point guard, who actually urged the crowd to do so. For the Celtics, Jayson Tatum casually dropped 50 points in their stunning upset. Tatum tied Bob Cousy for fourth most points scored by a Celtic in a playoff game. John Havlicek holds the franchise record with 54 points against Atlanta in 1973.

Did anyone expect the Celtics to win the series? Nope. Did anyone expect them to, let’s say, force six games? I personally had Boston getting swept.

However, it definitely shows that the super-team formed by James Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant — better known, respectively, as “The Beard,” LeBron’s former sidekick and “The guy who took the easy way out with the Warriors” — can be stopped in some form.

For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.