As the regular season and certain playoff rounds come to a close, there are a myriad of offseason, playoffs, and draft news to cover. That is why I will publish a weekly piece called “News across the NBA.” The intention is to outline and briefly describe important NBA stories during a certain week.
This week’s storylines consist of more devasting injury news, head coaching hires, updates on the two conference finals series, the NBA Draft Lottery, and the USA Olympic team.
The narrative behind the 2021 NBA Playoffs is unfortunately shaped by constant injury news. StatMuse’s Twitter post framed this playoff perfectly saying, “Past the first round, every single playoff team has had an injury to their best or 2nd best player.”
Past the first round, every single playoff team has had an injury to their best or 2nd best player.— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 30, 2021
Suns: Chris Paul
Bucks: Giannis pic.twitter.com/3PrLuE8Jlo
Giannis is the most recent addition to the list as he seemed to hyperextend his knee during yesterday’s Game 4 loss against the Atlanta Hawks. We focus on the stars because of their optical impact to the average eye, but key role players are also troubled by injuries.
In the Clippers Suns series, Clipper center Ivica Zubac missed Game 5 due to a right knee injury. Suns guard Cam Payne is also hindered by a left ankle injury. His 29 points and 9 assists were a huge lift in their Game 2 victory and he has not looked the same since.
As it pertains to the Hawks Bucks series, Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo are recent additions to the list. Young missed Game 4 with a bone bruise on his right foot, and Giannis left Game 4 unable to return from his knee injury.
Some names that might have flown under the radar are De’Andre Hunter and Donte Divincenzo. They served impactful roles on their team and cannot play for the rest of the postseason. Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter suffered a tear in his lateral meniscus in early June. Bucks guard Donte Divincenzo sustained a tendon injury in his left foot during Game 3 of the first round.
Head coaching hires
The head coaching carousel has been an interesting topic of discussion as well. Rick Carlise unexpectedly stepped down as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks and is replaced by Jason Kidd. Carlisle did not spend much time on the open market as he quickly accepted the head coaching position with the Indiana Pacers.
After the Portland Trail Blazer's disappointing first-round loss to the Nuggets, they fired long-time head coach Terry Stotts and hired Denver native Chauncey Billups. Amid Damian Lillard’s offseason questioning to stick with Portland, Billups was one of the coaches he desired, and Billups would appear to work well with their talented backcourt.
There was some controversy that Celtics head coach Brad Stevens would be fired but he was actually promoted to head of basketball operations. His first move was to replace himself as head coach with former Nets assistant Ime Udoka.
Hawks vs Bucks
We Denver fans thought we were impeded by the referees, but the Atlanta Hawks suffered a direct impact to their star guard Trae Young as he tripped over a referee’s foot and missed Game 4. Clearly, it was a freak injury and there should be no blame to pass around, but in a season hampered by injuries another unexpected one occurs to a crucial player.
Although Young missed Game 4, that did not stop the Hawks from defeating the Bucks 110-88. Of course, that game most likely would have looked different if Giannis did not hyperextend his knee during the 3rd quarter. Unfortunately, this seems to be a serious injury. It might keep Giannis out for the remainder of the series and maybe even next if they advance, but that is just speculation at this point.
Setting injuries aside, the Hawks dominated the majority of the game. Lou Williams stepped into the starting guard spot nicely as he dropped 21 points and 8 assists on 7-9 shooting. Bucks forward Khris Middleton was coming off his 38 point performance in Game 3 but was not nearly the same in Game 4. He shot 6-17 and had the game’s worst plus/minus at -25.
The series is now tied 2-2 and Game 5 will be played in Milwaukee Thursday at 6:30 PM MT.
Clippers vs Suns
Paul George was the story of the Clippers Game 5 victory 116-102. He scored his playoff career-high 41 points on an efficient 15-20 shooting. Marcus Morris and Colorado native Reggie Jackson were key contributors as Morris had 22 and Jackson 23.
Patrick Beverley has done an effective job limiting Devin Booker since Booker’s fantastic Game 1 performance. He has not looked the same since but is battling a broken nose, so that in conjunction with stifling Beverley defense is a tough combo to endure.
Clippers coach Ty Lue is doing a fantastic job throughout these playoffs of making adjustments, and his win on Monday increased his record in elimination games to 10-2. Game 6 is today in Phoenix at 7:00 PM MT
Ty Lue is now 10-2 in elimination games in his coaching career. pic.twitter.com/g3kJKNLX0p— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 29, 2021
Last Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery concluded with the Detroit Pistons gaining the #1 overall pick in this year's draft. They are followed by Houston, Cleveland, Toronto, and Orlando to round out the top 5.
Some foreseen top picks in this year's draft are Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, USC forward Evan Mobley, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs, and NBA G League guard Jalen Green.
Following the draft, you can see some of these draftees compete in the NBA Summer League taking place on August 8-17.
Team USA announced their roster for the 2021 Olympics headlined by the superstars Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. Gregg Popovich will once again be the head coach assisted by Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright.
Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Kevin Love helped win the gold medal for USA in 2016 and are looking to repeat. Other notable names are former Nugget Jerami Grant, Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Jayson Tatum, and Khris Middleton.