Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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Isn’t there an unwritten rule that sports should be played fairly? As in, don’t cheat during the match and congratulate your opponent, win or lose? It’s 2022, people.

On Friday, Jan. 21, the Milwaukee Bucks hosted the Chicago Bulls. Milwaukee’s Grayson Allen collided with Chicago’s Alex Caruso while the latter was attempting a layup.

Caruso suffered a fractured wrist as a result of the collision. He’ll have to get surgery and miss six to eight weeks of action.

While you may believe that sports injuries are normal, this is different.

Allen is notorious for intentionally injuring opponents, even while he was still at Duke University. Allen received a one-game suspension for his role in Caruso’s injury and cameras showed him smirking on the sideline while officials reviewed the play.

Then, on Saturday, Jan. 22, the Bucks’ social media team posted a picture of Allen holding a donut with a caption that read “Good morning.” They threw in the Bulls’ Twitter handle to direct the post at them. The response from Chicago read “Seriously?”

The next time these two will meet is Mar. 4 in the Windy City. It could get ugly.

Also, this past Tuesday, Jan. 25, was filled with mind-boggling basketball.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Sacramento Kings by 53 points, 128-75. The L.A. Clippers defeated the Washington Wizards 116-115. Oh yeah, Washington choked a 35-point lead. L.A. completed the second biggest comeback in NBA history, only trailing Utah’s 36-point comeback against Denver in 1996. Wow.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

“Hey Ya” is a popular song by Atlanta rap duo OutKast, composed of André “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Part of the song’s lyrics accurately describe Atlanta Hawks’ point guard Trae Young: “What’s cooler than being cool? Ice cold.”

“Ice Trae” and the Hawks are trying to get back on track as we’re over the halfway point of the regular season. They’ve won four in a row, with some winnable games on their upcoming schedule.The Hawks are setting out to prove that last year’s trip to the Eastern Conference Finals was no fluke.

Young is dominant on the offensive end, as usual, averaging 28 points, four rebounds and 9.3 assists. In their victory last week against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Young exploded with 37 points and 14 assists within 36 minutes of action. For Young, this stat line is just an average Wednesday.

Atlanta, at 21-25, is one game behind the tenth East seed, the Washington Wizards. If the Hawks are puzzled as to why their record isn’t better, solving the issue of that ranked 27 defensive rating is a good place to start. There’s still time to find a winning defensive formula, but they better act quickly.

Lowlight

Despite being just a tad behind the Bulls and Heat for the first seed in the East, the Brooklyn Nets should have nothing to worry about– yet. It’s just shocking at this point that the lethal trio of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant have barely played at the same time.

We’ve seen combos of Irving and Harden, Harden and Durant and Irving and Durant. But getting all three at once is like trying to put a round peg in a square hole. Since Durant is currently sidelined with an MCL sprain in his knee for at least the next month or so, the duo of Harden and part-time Irving will have to do– remember, Irving can only play away games due to New York’s laws for unvaccinated individuals in indoors sports arenas.

On the other hand, the supporting cast of Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge and Cam Thomas could step up if needed. Mills and Aldridge are proven veterans that can easily score if you don’t keep your eye on them. Thomas, meanwhile, is a rookie who has made a few clutch shots.

While Brooklyn had the excuse of injuries last year, if they can’t at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year, there might be more questions than answers.

Random Stat

What we are witnessing from Joel Hans Embiid is an MVP season. Although he’s averaging 29 points per game for the year, he has averaged 40.4 points in his last five performances.

The skill set this man has for being seven-feet tall is absolutely bonkers.

Embiid can bully in the paint to get free throws,he’s first in the league at free throw attempts per game, can hit mid-range shots, shoot the occasional three-pointer and sometimes even step-back threes.

Embiid has always been compared to legends like Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon. O’Neal’s force in the paint was unstoppable. Olajuwon’s footwork on his “Dream Shake,” hence the nickname, was filthy.

There are two reasons that Embiid might have more motivation right now.

First, it’s my opinion that he was robbed of MVP last year due to injuries. Although Philadelphia was the first Eastern seed, Embiid missed 21 games.

Second, Ben Simmons has sat out all year because he refuses to play for the team and reportedly has mental health issues. Additionally, the fans and media are rioting that 76ers’ President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey is wasting another spectacular Embiid season by not trading for better pieces around the big man.

With reports that Morey wants to acquire the aforementioned soon-to-be-33-year-old Harden, we Philadelphia fans will have to continue to “Trust the Process.”

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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