Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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What a great start to the 2022 NBA playoffs!

I keep looking back at my bracket to see how I’m doing with predictions. In a word: “meh.”

Injuries have made an unwelcome appearance, as Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton and Phoniex Suns superstar Devin Booker are sidelined for now. We also might be ready to witness multiple gentlemen’s sweeps (winning a series in five).

One thing that’s just bizarre in this postseason is the protests that keep occurring at Minnesota Timberwolves games. Apparently, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor had some chickens killed on his farm due to a flu outbreak and these protestors seem to be animal-rights activists. The incidents, done by three separate women over three games, included one gluing her hand to the court, one of them chaining herself to the basket and the other attempting to charge the court.

Somehow, Minnesota is 3-0 while these protests happen.

Finally, the Charlotte Hornets have cut ties with Head Coach James Borrego after he went 138-163 in four seasons. Charlotte was 43-39 this year, but they lost to Atlanta Hawks in the first game of the play-in tournament.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

Boston has seen plenty of success in its sports franchises over the years. No matter who’s playing, its teams are always in the playoff hunt. That is the case once again with the Celtics.

The Celtics are one game away from sweeping the Brooklyn Nets. As in, that team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Both Durant and Irving have not had the high-scoring performances we expected of them. The two Brooklyn superstars only had 16 points each in Game 3 at home.

Boston’s stifling defense may have had something to do with that, but it’s still shocking. This series was hyped up as potentially being one of the all-time greatest series!

As a society, we need to stop hyping up certain games because expectations fall flat so often. Eliminating the Nets from the playoffs would be such a confidence booster for Boston going into the next round.

Perhaps, it’s for the best for Brooklyn. I mean, let’s be honest. Ben Simmons was most likely going to sit out anyway. I guess we’ll see what happens with him soon.

Kudos to the Celtics (as a 76ers fan, it makes me sick to write that last sentence)!

Lowlight

Okay, I seriously overestimated the Denver Nuggets this post-season. I had this team going to the Conference Finals. But, there’s a good chance Golden State Warriors will finish them off in Game 5.

Denver needs Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. healthy. If Murray and Porter Jr. return next season, Denver is right back in the playoff race again. They can only go so far without them and Nikola Jokić is only one person.

Jokić is averaging 31.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals in this series. And yet, his team has one win to show for it.

You have to give it up for the Warriors, though. Going against the reigning MVP is no easy task, but they’re finding ways to make him uncomfortable. As I watched Game 3 on Thursday, I noticed Jokić was absolutely exhausted.

Although crazier things have happened, this series is over. No team in NBA history has ever rallied back from a 0-3 deficit, despite the Nuggets claiming a Game 4 victory on Sunday.

Now that I’ve said that, and knowing my luck, watch the Nuggets rip off three more wins.

Random Stat

The Phoenix Suns are tied 2-2 against the New Orleans Pelicans, but the Suns should win in the next few games.

As I mentioned earlier, Devin Booker is out for the remainder of the first round due to injury, so Chris Paul has taken the reigns. At 36 years old, Paul had 28 assists between Games 2 and 3 with zero turnovers– that’s the most assists in a two-game playoff span without a turnover in NBA history.

In case that doesn’t impress you, the next person on the list is Hall-of-Famer John Stockton with 20.

“The Point God” is a type of player we may never see again. Paul continues to shut up haters as the Suns dominate everyone, he led the league in assists per game this year too!

The only accolade that he’s missing from his resume is a championship ring. With the way he makes his teammates better, Phoenix will only grow stronger and have a better chance to win that elusive ring. If I was a player going up against Paul, it would be a long evening for sure.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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