Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA column


Load management. Those are two words that fans and many media members don’t support.

Players may want to sit out a few games during the season to avoid injury and save energy for the postseason; however, their acts can interfere with the fan experience. Fans are buying tickets with their hard-earned money just to miss seeing their favorite players in action.

The media, especially former players from previous generations, consider today’s players “soft” for sitting out every other night. We saw a story this week that involved load management, but it had a happy ending.

Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat sat out last Tuesday’s primetime game against Boston due to back tightness while a young fan named Felipe held up a sign that said he and his family flew over 4,400 miles to see Butler play.

Felipe and his family came from Argentina to see the Heat. Fortunately, Butler signed a jersey and a ball for the young fan. Felipe was also brought back on Friday for Miami’s comeback win against Orlando. And Butler spent time with him as well. What a turnaround of a story that started out like a heartbreaker!

Load management is one idea that’s good in theory, but not good in practice.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?


Coming off of their fourth championship in eight years, the Warriors are looking to continue their league with dominance.

After a slow start to the year, and despite their awful road record (6-18), they have climbed back into the playoff hunt with a 26-24 record, tied for fifth in the West with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns.

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have been the Warriors’ foundations for over a decade now, but Jordan Poole and James Wiseman appear to be the “next-gen” players for this team. Having the leadership and championship experience of Head Coach Steve Kerr, who won five rings as a player, is also helpful.

You can never count the Warriors out or bet against them in any situation because they’ll prove you wrong. Even with the amount of talented teams in the West this season, the Warriors won’t be able to waltz through the playoffs as in previous years. With that being said, nobody has been able to stop the sharpshooting of the Warriors, so who’s going to stop them now?


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You have a team with a superstar, but the media considers his other teammates to be “bums.”

I’m referring to Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks on this particular riddle. I personally don’t consider Dončić’s teammates to be “bums,” but that’s how teams are classified these days.

The Mavericks are one of the better teams in the league because of Dončić’s ability to play. He averages 33 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game… and he’ll be turning 24 in one month. The Mavericks have a supporting cast filled with guys like Tim Hardaway, Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Here’s the problem though, on Friday, Dončić exited the game against Phoenix with an ankle sprain and is considered to be day-to-day. We hope that the injury isn’t too serious, but this means that Dončić’s teammates need to step up, even when #77 returns.

In the playoffs last year, Dallas got humbled in the Western Conference Finals by the aforementioned Warriors in five games. You won’t win many games by yourself — unless your name is LeBron James. The Mavericks just need to take things one day at a time.

Random Stat

The NBA All-Star Game starters have been announced, and you can’t have a list without subs so let’s get down to business.

Representing the Eastern Conference, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell make up the backcourt while Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and the team captain, Giannis Antetokounmpo, make up the frontcourt.

In the West, the backcourt is Steph Curry and Luka Dončić and the rest of the starters are Nikola Jokić, Zion Williamson, and team captain, LeBron James.

It’s good to see new faces in the starting rotation such as Williamson. The Pelicans have earned respect this year with the way he’s playing and since Mitchell is lighting it up in Cleveland, the fans and media have awarded him with this honor.

However, there are some people missing from these lists. Where the heck is Joel Embiid? You know, the guy leading the league in scoring right now and on the second seed in the East? Others have mentioned Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis and Utah’s Lauri Markkanen as additional subs.

Fortunately, these players and more will be in the All-Star Game as reserves. It’s just hard to be a starter when superstars like James, Antetokounmpo, Jokić, and Dončić either have been a starter for a long time or will be a lock for the near future. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to see who the reserves are!

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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