NBA Notebook: The 76ers are quietly taking care of business
The 2021 NBA Playoffs are fully underway, and fans are being treated to must-see games every night of the week. It's an exciting time as favorites are being tested and plucky underdogs are stealing the spotlight.
Let’s take at the biggest stories from around the Association this week.
Clippers gonna Clipper
Headed into the playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers were the second betting favorite in the Western Conference behind the Los Angeles Lakers despite being the No. 4 seed. The Clips had the league's second most efficient offense, and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were expected to carry a talented and deep roster through the first round with ease.
Two games into the 2021 postseason, the Clippers are clearly in trouble. After entering as -400 favorites against the Dallas Mavericks, they now find themselves down 0-2 and headed to Dallas with major concerns about how they can stop Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks are sitting at just -250 to win the series now. Considering that less than 7% of NBA teams have recovered to win the series after falling behind 0-2, the Mavs present excellent value to bettors.
The Nets are as good as advertised
We suspected the Brooklyn Nets would look good once Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden were fully healthy, but we didn't realize they would be this good. The Nets have won their first two outings against the undermanned Celtics by 16.5 points per game, and have yet to even step on the gas.
Brooklyn scored 130 points in Game 2 while shooting 44.7% from deep. All five starters scored in double figures, and they had 31 assists as a team, which is four assists higher than their season average. The Nets are an offensive juggernaut, and will be a tough out as they power through the postseason.
The league is in good hands
While teams like the Nets and Lakers have established stars, some of the most exciting postseason series this year feature new faces.
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks electrified the NBA with his play in the closing seconds of Game 1 against the New York Knicks. Donovan Mitchell returned to the court for the Utah Jazz after 40 days away and proceeded to put up 12 points in the first quarter. Devin Booker notched 34 points in his playoff debut against the defending champion Lakers in a Game 1 victory for the Phoenix Suns. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies each scored 25+ in their playoff debuts in a Game 1 upset against the Jazz.
As we take stock of the young and emerging talent around the league, it's clear the NBA is in good hands. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul are approaching the conclusion of their careers, but those longtime All-Stars will be replaced by players who are just as exciting and dynamic. The savvy and skill of so many of today’s young stars is a treat to enjoy.
The 76ers have been Quietly Efficient
It's usually a good sign for a heavily favored team when they receive little media attention during the first round. That's a sign they're taking care of business by winning games handily.
NBA Championship 2020/2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:57 PM
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Portland Trail Blazers
That's the scenario the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves in against the Washington Wizards. With two dominant victories, the 76ers continue to play well on both sides of the court, just as they did during the regular season to earn their top seed.
While the Nets look unstoppable offensively, the 76ers’ quietly efficient play has reinforced my opinion over the last two months that they're capable of winning the title. The Sixers appear destined to face the Nets in the Eastern Conference Finals, and possess the offensive skill and defensive intensity to be a serious challenger.