Kevin Durant will make his return after missing two month’s worth of action. The 2014 NBA MVP was put on the shelf due to a strained left hamstring but now he is ready when the Nets play the Pelicans tomorrow.
Looking at the standings, the Jazz and Suns have taken the reins in the loaded Western Conference, while the Sixers, Nets, and Bucks are all battling for the top spots in the Eastern Conference.
On the other hand, the race for the Rookie of the Year award suddenly became a lot more interesting as we’re approaching the end of the 2020/21 regular season.
Here are some takeaways and more as SBOTOP looks at the most recent NBA 2021 updates.
Nets are playing the long game
Despite the good news that Kevin Durant is set to play as early as tomorrow, the Nets won’t still be at full strength.
Losing someone like Harden sure is a blow for the Nets, but they still have Kyrie Irving who is doing the heavy lifting on the offencive end for them.
The flashy point guard, along with Kevin Durant, should see a solid uptick in usage rate with Harden out while their other role players in Joe Harris, Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Bruce Brown are expected to play more minutes.
Steve Nash reiterated that the Nets have been very cautious in managing injuries of their star players and this is the right approach considering Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have had major injuries in their careers while James Harden have had some knocks in these past few seasons as well.
Their frequent absences may hurt Brooklyn’s continuity and chemistry to a degree, but they still remain a dangerous team in the Eastern Conference.
Once they’ll get all of their stars back at full strength, the Nets are certainly the favourites to advance to the NBA Finals since they are undefeated in all of the games that they’ve played together.
Jazz and Suns are ruling the tough West
Even if they are occupying the top two spots in the Western Conference, the Jazz and the Suns are still doubted by numerous pundits.
Granted that their NBA 2021 odds aren’t that high compared to the Lakers and Clippers, still, it is hard to overlook the fact that they have won nine of their last 10 games.
The Jazz may have slumped a bit after taking the league by storm earlier this season, but their collective effort and hot three-point shooting are the main reasons why they are enjoying the first seed.
As for the Suns, they are thriving through their backcourt tandem of Chris Paul and Devin Booker while they have been getting major contributions from their other players too.
These two teams are slated to have a collision course tomorrow in what will be a pivotal match for both sides. But whether they’ll win or lose, both should effectively clinch their playoff berths sooner or later.
Rookie of the Year becomes a three-way race
For a while, it looked like LaMelo Ball may have sealed the ROY trophy. But after his hand injury, the race may have opened up a bit.
With Ball heading to the treatment table, the shine was passed on to Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton, who have been distant contenders all season for the said award.
Edwards emerged as the Timberwolves’ second-best player after a slow start this season. Because of the periodic absences of D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, that gave him enough playing time to show everyone what he’s capable of.
Haliburton, meanwhile, has been one of the Kings’ bright spots this term. His averages may not be as flashy compared to Ball and Edwards, but his efficiency and activity on the defencive end strengthen his case.
LaMelo Ball shouldn’t be completely ruled out of the ROY race considering what he’s done for the Hornets this season. The lanky floor general has brought a winning mentality to Charlotte by willing them into the playoff hunt and he led all rookies in important offencive statistical categories before injuring his hand.
He’ll be hoping that he can make his return before the regular season ends. And if he does return, that would push himself back to being the favourite by the end of the regular season.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE BASKETBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.