NBA Round-Up: 5/24/21

By Joe Torosian —

NBA Playoffs–
Phoenix 99, Lakers 90: Suns lead, 1-0

Note to Lakers Fans: As someone who survived the viewing of “The Memorial Day Massacre,”—don’t panic. (I’m no longer a Laker fan, but neither are you if you don’t know about “The Memorial Day Massacre.”) This series is not over.

Go Suns, but don’t panic.

In regards to Anthony Davis—Panic. Davis may be the most difficult player for anybody with the slightest bit of basketball sensibility to watch in the NBA. We know physically he hits the floor in agony two to three times a game, but his motor (or lack thereof) seems to suffer from perpetual anemia.

Question for Lakers fans: In terms of a second banana— Pau Gasol or Anthony Davis?

Davis only has value as long as LeBron stays viable and away from tequila parties. Then again, it’s just about staying healthy because the NBA doesn’t care what party LeBron goes to as long as they can put him on the air.

Watching Sunday’s game, I kept waiting for this big Laker push. The moment when LeBron took over, and the Suns crumbled. I mean, everything was set up for it, including an apparent injury to Phoenix point guard Chris Paul. (Haven’t we all seen this movie before?)

But that run never came, and the defending champs were catatonic. The Lakers were routed on the boards, 47-33. And despite going to the line 16 more times than the Suns, they shot only 17-of-28 from the stripe.

I don’t think this series is over. LeBron James remains the best player in a weak NBA. Devin Booker’s trouble because he can score and pass. Plus, he tries to play defense. And in the current NBA, merely an attempt to play defense can earn you a spot on the All-Defensive Team.

The Suns have numerous defenders to run at LeBron, who, given his talent and the kindness of the official’s whistle, will still get his points. They just won’t come as easy.

The experts like Davis at the five and want Andre Drummond out of the middle because he gums up the works. But Davis, to quote a local personality, is softer than his Mama’s love. He can’t consistently bang with Phoenix center Deandre Ayton (21-pts/16-Rebs).

The Lakers have got a problem…and it’s not just this series. It’s the next two seasons.

***

Games Seen:
76ers 125, Wizards 118—I like Philly, but it is easy to love Bradley Beal.
Hawks 107, Knicks 105—Always had a thing for the Knicks, but I don’t like Julius Randle wearing Bernard King’s jersey. Before being fascinated by Memphis guard Ja Morant…The Hawks Trae Young is SO much better.
Grizzlies 112, Jazz 109—Love to root for the Jazz, but Grizzly bad dude Dillon Brooks is one of the few talents that make the NBA tolerable. Never thought I’d say this in my life—Go Griz!

***

NBA Games Seen 112 (7/playoffs):
Lakers:22
Celtics:19
Mavericks:16
76ers:15
Pelicans:15
Clippers:16
Nets:15
Warriors:16
Bucks:12
Suns:13
Heat:7
Jazz:8
Rockets:6
Trail Blazers:6
Nuggets:5
Wizards:5
Knicks:5
Grizzlies:5
Pacers:4
Magic:2
Pistons:2
Bulls:2
Kings:1
Raptors:1
Spurs:2
Hawks:2
Hornets:2

***

(April 6)
Lakers at Clippers: Clippers win—118-94
“The Swen Nater Trophy”
The stat sheet will tell you this game was over when Laker forward Anthony Davis went down for the third and final time near the end of the first quarter. Davis, following a missed three-point attempt, tweaked an ankle and fell. Later it was reported he was suffering back spasms.

That’s what will be said.

This game was over at the tap with Davis playing, and LeBron James and Dennis Schröder sidelined (LeBron age, Schröder Covid-protocol). The Clippers (45-22) easily streaked to a 9-point lead after one and a 23-point lead at the break.

Paul George led the way for the victors with 24-points. He was assisted by Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson, Rajon Rondo, and DeMarcus Cousins, scoring in double figures.

The Clippers out-rebounded the Lakers 48-34. They also outshot the Lakers (37-29) from three, outshot them from the line, and outshot them from the field.

If the revelation is unclear, I’ll interpret it for you. Anthony Davis is a nice player, but nothing close to a great player. The sad part is, is some coach in Davis’ history is patting himself on the back and likely counting his money for never developing Davis to play like a big man. Davis could dominate in the paint with his talent, but instead, this freak of a talent is shooting fallaway 22-footers.

And he’s soft.

Yeah, the Lakers won a title a season ago…but they ought to hang a banner that reads “The Bubble.” Because without The Bubble, it’s clear that they would not have won that championship.

The Lakers are now tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the sixth spot in the Western Conference. Spots seven-thru-ten are “play-in” positions for the playoffs. Tonight the Lakers play in Portland and then come home to face Phoenix, the New York Knicks, and Houston Rockets before traveling to Indiana and New Orleans to close the season.

The Clippers are 3.5 back of conference-leading Utah and in third place with five to play.

***

(May 4)
Brooklyn at Milwaukee: Bucks win—124-118
“The Sherman Douglas Trophy”
This game was tied with 8:11 to play before the Bucks (41-24) went on an 11-0 run to secure the win. The Nets (43-23) were able to close the gap to four in the final minute, but couldn’t get any closer.

Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 38, and Kevin Durant added 32. Milwaukee was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 36.

The Bucks led by eight at the break, but the Nets took a 94-92 after three quarters. Milwaukee out rebounded the Nets, 55-39 (15-6, on the offensive boards).

These teams are two and three in the Eastern Conference, and the level of play…was horrid. Both are susceptible to early playoff exits.

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