Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA column

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Logo for Diehlman at Halftime column. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

This week we learned that New York Knicks legend Willis Reed passed away at the age of 80.

Reed played his entire ten-year career with the Knicks and was part of the 1970 and 1973 championship seasons in New York. In addition, Reed was named to the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History” list in 1996 and the 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.

Moving on, the Dallas Mavericks want to file a formal complaint to the NBA regarding their two-point loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. Dallas thought they had the ball in the third quarter and called a timeout.

It was, however, Golden State’s ball. After the timeout, Mavericks’ players lined up on the wrong side of the court, and as a result, Golden State got a free dunk.

Apparently, a successful complaint has not been filed since 2008. This is an odd, out-of-the-ordinary situation. If this would’ve occurred in the final 10 seconds, or during a high-stakes game situation, the whole league would be protesting, but since this was in the third quarter; there was plenty of time for Dallas to win the game.

If you want to read more about this incident, click here.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, and Random Stat.

Highlight: The Oklahoma City Thunder may actually be underrated these days. No, that wasn’t a typo.

Oklahoma City is 37-38 and tied for ninth in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers. To put that in perspective, there’s still a chance for them to bypass the play-in tournament and go straight to the first round of the playoffs!

If you recall, the Thunder had the second overall pick in last year’s draft. They selected Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, who hasn’t played this season due to a Lisfranc injury.

The Thunder, however, revolves around star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Toronto, Canada native averages 31.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.7 steals per game. Not bad for a 24-year-old!

Oklahoma City can brag about its other young talent, as well. Josh Giddey can flirt with triple-doubles on most nights. Lu Dort can lock up opponents on defense. I’m just wondering how this squad will fit Holmgren into this already dangerous group.

It’s something to behold that the Thunder are sandwiched between the Lakers and Mavericks in the playoff hunt. If they can clinch a playoff berth, are the Thunder a sleeper playoff team?

Lowlight: The Minnesota Timberwolves are very similar to their local counterpart, the Minnesota Vikings. No matter who’s on their roster, they’ll find ways to let you down when games matter the most.

The Timberwolves are 38-37 and seventh in the West. It probably would’ve helped, though, if star center Karl-Anthony Towns was on the floor for most of the season.

“K.A.T.” had been out for almost four months due to a calf issue. In his return on Wednesday, March 22, where Minnesota defeated Atlanta by one point, Towns had 22 points in 26 minutes.

Anthony Edwards has been a nice piece for them, as well, giving the Timberwolves 24.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per night. However, the Rudy Gobert experiment has been underwhelming, to say the least.

Minnesota sending a boatload of assets to Utah in exchange for Gobert last offseason was a bizarre move. The Joel Embiid-Al Horford disaster for the 76ers lasted no longer than the 2019-20 season before Horford was traded. The fit wasn’t right. Attempting to pair Towns and Gobert together was… interesting, considering the latter’s lack of an offensive game.

The Timberwolves won’t scare anybody should they advance to the postseason, but their future has potential… hopefully.

Random Stat: Home crowds are an important part of a successful team, especially during a postseason run. It gives their team momentum, and fan bases argue over whose is better/the best.

As of this writing, there are three teams in each conference that have less than ten home losses this season. In the East, we have Milwaukee, Boston, and Cleveland. The representatives for the West are Denver, Memphis, and Golden State (we discussed earlier in the year about how the Warriors have an awful road record, despite the fact that they’re the reigning champions).

The other five make sense. Everyone on this list except the Warriors and Cavaliers are either the top seed or second seed in their respective conference. And obviously, the top seed in the conference clinches home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Although I’m a 76ers fan (which you’ve probably heard me say a million times already), I can definitely say these other fan bases are crazy. Boston fans are nuts. Golden State fans have been spoiled beyond belief since Steph Curry and company started winning rings in the 2014-2015 season. But, that’s what makes a city and a sports organization unique.

I have one question as we wrap up this section: which of the six fan bases mentioned will create the best excuses when their team doesn’t win it all this season?

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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