Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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With the NBA Finals underway, I’d say that life is great. For LeBron James, life is really great.

LeBron has officially been labeled as a billionaire and has become the first active player to hit the milestone. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are the only other basketball players to this mark– but only after they retired.

Last week, Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Alan Smolinisky made a two-billion-dollar bid to buy the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jody Allen, the sister of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is currently running the team. The Blazers released a statement that acknowledged the bid by Knight and Smolinisky but said the team is not for sale. Allen, ironically, is required to sell the team because it was written into Paul Allen’s will.

I’m interested to see where this goes. The Blazers need to correct the ship if they ever want to compete for a championship while Damian Lillard is still in his prime.

Finally, Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder is stepping down after eight seasons with the team. Despite averaging approximately 47 regular-season wins each year under Snyder, the Jazz could never get to the conference finals during that time.

Former Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts is one candidate Utah might be interviewing. We’ll see what this means for Donovan Mitchell’s future in Utah. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Mitchell is, “unsettled [and] unnerved” following Snyder’s exit.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

The Golden State Warriors-Boston Celtics series is tied at 1-1. These two squads, however, are trending in different directions. Let’s start with the positives.

After a royal collapse in Game 1, Golden State woke up in Game 2 to win 107-88 and split the series at home. Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole were the heroes of the latter, as they combined for 46 points.

Klay Thompson’s shooting was pretty bad, but his team won by 19 points. Plus, players have terrible performances here and there. We’re human, after all.

You may be wondering at what point I felt Game 2 was over.

Poole hit a 39-foot buzzer-beater right inside half-court to end the third quarter. That shot was nothing but net and I knew that the Celtics were finished for the night. In the second half, everything seemed to go Golden State’s way.

The Warriors now travel to Boston for Games 3 and 4, which are on Wednesday, June 8. and Friday, June 10. Momentum is clearly their friend and they’d be wise to utilize it.

Lowlight

If you take everything I just said about the Warriors and think about their opposites, that’s the story of the Celtics right now.

Boston’s fourth-quarter comeback in Game 1 was one for the ages. However, for Game 2, did Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka forget to mention to this team that they were playing a Finals game? Golden State kicked the door open in the third quarter of Game 2 and never looked back.

One thing that stood out to me was the disappearance of Al Horford and Marcus Smart. The duo combined for 44 points in Game 1. Then, they combined for a grand total of four points in the next match. Four!

Although Jayson Tatum had 28 points, six rebounds, and three assists, the Warriors’ lead kept growing.

Boston did their job, though. Stealing at least one game in enemy territory is something you aim for in every series. If the Celtics want to take back the series advantage, they can’t afford to lose these next two home games.

Random Stat

Although Tatum’s shooting percentage in Game 1 was horrific, he had a really solid night with playmaking. Tatum led the way with 13 assists, which is an NBA record for most assists in a player’s Finals debut. Legends such as John Stockton, Michael Jordan, and Isiah Thomas are in a three-way tie for 12 assists.

To show how lethal Tatum was dishing out dimes in Game 1, he averaged 5.6 assists per game throughout the entire series against the Miami Heat. If Tatum were to average ten plus assists in this series or even over the course of a season, he would be a top-three player in the NBA, no questions asked.

However, the outlier in this game was most likely because he couldn’t hit a shot if his life depended on it. If it’s not your night in terms of scoring, you find other ways to help out. Get some strong stops on defense. Fight for offensive rebounds.

With the Celtics being three wins away from a championship, I cannot see Tatum shooting this bad for a whole series. That home crowd in Boston should help, too.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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