NBA – Week 28 In Review

It’s the time of the NBA season where upsets occur daily, stars are born in big moments, and when the Jazz finally become a talking point now that they’re no longer on the court.

Celtics Sneak Past Nets

The Brooklyn Nets entered the 2021-22 NBA season among the favourites for the championship. With James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the court, people wondered how they could be stopped. The problem: They barely spent time on the court together. When you consider the disruptions all season and the rise of the Boston Celtics throughout the year, it’s no surprise to see the Nets fall out of the playoffs in the First Round.

What is a surprise is the score. 4-0. Four-blot. Swept. The Celtics put a broom through the Nets with Jayson Tatum and Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, leading the way on either side of the ball. They came up with the goods in the big moments of the game to upset a team most expected to advance. For the Nets, they lacked composure. For every Irving-inspired run was a poor isolation play and turnover at the end. They looked like a team that had just met at times…

The Celtics have since dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Milwaukee Bucks but enter Game 2 as $1.55 favourites to level the series.

Suns Rise Into Second Round

The Phoenix Suns continue to battle through injuries and now face the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Their dominance throughout the year has set them up to navigate these periods playing without one of their two superstars. Right now, it’s Devin Booker nursing a dodgy right hamstring. He missed Games 3-5 of the First Round but returned in Game 6 to score 13 points on 5-12 shooting.

It’s normally a surprise to see a good team win a lot of games when they’re leading late, but this is incredible:

Similarly, Chris Paul added another incredible record to the long list beside his name. He set an NBA postseason record for most field goals made without a miss while going 14 for 14 as the Suns sealed the series with a 115-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

With Paul typically brilliant and Booker working his way back to full strength, the Suns are again favourites in the Western Conference and $1.43 favourites to beat the Mavericks in Game 1 of the series.

Embiid Eyes Return

Joel Embiid has been a candidate for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the Year award all season.

It looked as though Nikola Jokic may have snuck past him late in the season. Nonetheless, Embiid is one of the best players in the league right now and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t afford to lose him for too many games at this point of the campaign. But already playing with a torn ligament in his right thumb, Embiid will now miss Games 1 and 2 against the Miami Heat.

Embiid’s injury piles pressure onto James Harden. He has been – quite frankly – poor since joining the 76ers. The worst elements of his game have been prevalent too often and his arrival didn’t do anything for the 76ers championship chances. If anything, they dipped. However, he’s capable of one big game across the first two to drag the Sixers to victory. Win one while Embiid sits on the sideline and they’re a chance in this series. Whether it be scoring himself in isolation for 48 minutes or finding clean looks for Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey, it’s up to Harden to keep the season alive.

It’s That Time Of Year…

You’ve been able to set your watch to the time discussions around a Utah Jazz rebuild kickoff over the last few years.

Another promising NBA regular season didn’t translate into the playoffs leaving the Jazz in the middling areas of the league. Trade speculation around which one of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have already begun. Quin Snyder, despite still being employed by the Jazz, is being talked about as a potential replacement for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The season is over on the court for the Jazz, but there is plenty still to come off it in 2022.