Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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Hear ye, hear ye! The NBA is back tonight to kick off the second half of the 2020-21 season!

I know you’re excited because now I’ll finally shut up about the All-Star game and players, which has been discussed to some extent in the past three articles. And besides, that was technically in the first half of the season anyway; we’re moving into the future now.

A lot of teams across the association are seeking a deep playoff push. What makes it bizarre this year is that the difference between the fourth and tenth seed in the Eastern standings is 2.5 games. In the West, the difference between the second and fifth seed is three games!

So basically, the first place 76ers would be a third seed if they played in the West.

Until teams in the East can start successfully recruiting players or have their homegrown stars do something useful, the conference will be wide open for anyone to make a run. I mean, the Washington Wizards looked like roadkill to start the season. Now, they’re two games behind the eighth seed. There’s definitely some sorcery going on, and I’m talking about both conferences.

Oh, by the way, the Nets picked up Blake Griffin off of waivers. Good God, how much help does Kevin Durant need?!

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

1 Highlight, 1 Lowlight, 1 Random Stat

Highlight: The Indiana Pacers are weird.

They have proven time and time again that there is potential for them in the future. However, they can’t seem to leapfrog one of the most basic hurdles: getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

Luckily for Indiana sports fans, point guard T.J. McConnell came to the rescue last Wednesday. In a road win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, McConnell had eight points, six assists and nine steals… at halftime, off the bench!

Those nine steals are an NBA record for a half. He would finish the game with 16 points (without missing a field goal), 13 assists and a Pacers’ record ten steals.

A points-assists-steals triple-double is such a rare accomplishment that McConnell’s was only the sixth in league history!

The former undrafted free agent can be a floor general on offense, and his defense often involves clamping players on inbound passes. Indiana may be tenth in the Eastern Conference, but McConnell will do all he can to help his team win.

Lowlight: There’s a distinction between a minor losing streak and a major one. The Houston Rockets are so low right now that the rocket crashing was one of the easier parts of the misery.

Houston sports fans are in a deep depression. They managed to trade James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Texans received a cookie in return for their two star players.

But, that’s beside the point.

The Rockets are on a 13 game losing streak! I’m really confused at what coach Stephen Silas is trying to accomplish. Are they tanking for the number one pick, or is the team just awful?

Also, DeMarcus Cousins was recently released. He isn’t as dominant as he once was, but he can still make opponents look foolish.

Most Improved Player candidate Christian Wood has been injured for some time now.

However, one of the things I really can’t wrap my head around is playing P.J. Tucker at center. When starting center Clint Capela was traded to Atlanta last year, nobody thought that was wise.

Tucker is tough, but he’s only 6 feet 5 inches. Houston needs a true center that will compliment Wood or take over if he’s injured.

Although it was nice of the Rockets to lose 13 straight in honor of James Harden, what are they doing?

Random Stat: For this week’s random stat, I’m going to do something different.

To all athletes: stop going to barbers! Cut your own hair if you have to. We won’t care if it’s bad.

First, the Kansas City Chiefs almost lost half of their team just prior to the Super Bowl because a barber tested positive for COVID-19. (One player had to stop mid-haircut!) Now, Philadelphia 76ers’ stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are in quarantine because of a barber testing positive.

It prevented them from playing in the All-Star game on Sunday. And we all know the Chiefs got slapped by Tampa Bay.

Thankfully, Embiid and Simmons are set to return this week. Otherwise, the rest of the season might have gotten ugly.

For comments/questions about this story, tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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