On the playoffs, punches, tanking, Kyrie and ...
We cover so much ground in our latest around-the-league compendium to tip off a new week that I couldn't even fit it all into one headline
The last week of the NBA regular season, in all candor, mostly sucked.
Seemingly every game between Tuesday and Saturday that was expected to hold some level of appeal got neutered by key players not playing as prioritizing draft positioning or rest for the playoffs took hold throughout the league. This season for the most part did not induce the so-called “historic race to the bottom” that many forecasters feared, with Victor Wembanyama as the prize at the top of the lottery, but tanking became an increasingly prominent storyline at the end of the season as teams such as Portland, Washington, Indiana, Utah and, in the most glaring example, Dallas all eventually surrendered in the chase for a play-in berth to varying degrees.
Just on Friday: The Mavericks inspired the league to promptly launch an investigation into their abrupt announcement that they would be resting Kyrie Irving and several other regulars rather than go for a home win over Chicago while still in mathematical contention for the No. 10 slot in the West … which was followed by LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant getting spoiled for the 18th (yes, eighteenth) consecutive time those titans were scheduled to face each other dating to Christmas Day 2018 after the Suns decreed that Durant would rest.
Oh, yeah: Amid the decided lack of drama and abundant disappointment for much of the week, New Orleans released a murky injury update on Zion Williamson which only conveyed that Williamson, sidelined since Jan. 2 by a hamstring injury, will not be available for the play-in round and still has no target date for his return.
Then everything changed on a wild and crazy Easter that, if nothing else, delivered fresh chaos to keep the basketball public tuned in while also finally sorting out the fifth through ninth seeds in the West.
Beyond the final on-court results that locked in the LA Clippers and Golden State at No. 5 and No. 6, there were two in-game skirmishes between teammates that included one punch thrown by Rudy Gobert at Kyle Anderson .... plus the punch Jaden McDaniels threw at a wall that left McDaniels, Minnesota’s top perimeter defender, with a broken hand.
On we go with more of my latest reactions, opinions, disseminations and reflections regarding #thisleague and associated matters: