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The NBA Play-In Tournament begins tomorrow and the potential for chaos is everywhere. To break down some of the biggest questions in the NBA this week, I tapped in some of the best minds from The Step Back and FanSided’s NBA network.
1. Indulge in some Nets schadenfreude — Would you rather see them get knocked out in the play-in or in the first round of the actual playoffs? Who would you like to see do the deed?
Dan Gilinsky, King James Gospel: Well selfishly, I’d like for the Cavs, ideally, to bounce the Nets in the play-in tourney. Unfortunately for the Wine and Gold, I can’t say I expect them to necessarily pull it off. But it would it ironic to bounce Kyrie I doubt it would play out that way, but a dude can dream … and laugh … sort of.
Mike Luciano, Raptors Rapture: I’d want to see them in the actual playoffs. If the Nets are going to lose, I want to see them go down swinging against one of the best teams in the league. Any team can play like crap over a two-game stretch, no matter how deep. Losing against Miami or Milwaukee in six or seven is more honorable than two weird elimination games.
Ian Levy, The Step Back: I’d really love to see the Celtics beat them but that would involve the Nets knocking out the Bucks in the first round and that’s a bit too much emotional gymnastics for me. Let it be the Cavs, with Kevin Love celebrating by doing the worm at center court after the final buzzer sounds.
2. Give me your wildest and yet still believable scenario for Patrick Beverley shenanigans in his play-in game revenge opportunity against the Clippers.
Dan Gilinsky, King James Gospel: For this one, it seems pretty clear to me. I envision Pat Bev barking at Paul George when PG sizes him up looking to get into a jumper, tries to get into the mid-range game, and then Pat Bev gets slightly beat, trips a bit and pulls a Rajon Rondo. As he’s falling, he grabs George’s shoelaces, unties one, and then things get very physical between both clubs from there. Following that, Bev claps away out of the scuffle between both teams, and it ignites a Timberwolves run.
Some guys just love being the instigator, and he’s definitely of that ilk.
Mike Luciano, Raptors Rapture: Beverley hits six of his seven 3-pointers, then gets ejected in the third quarter for getting two technicals. I legitimately think Minnesota will lean on him offensively. Anthony Edwards being just 20 years old in this high-leverage situation could be a tough ask. However, we know Beverley can’t turn the intensity down from 10 or keep his mouth shut, so he’s getting in some trouble and ruining his big night.
Ian Levy, The Step Back: Beverley tweaks his ankle and heads to the locker room sometime in the first half. Midway through the third quarter there’s a stoppage of play as all the lights in the arena go out. All of a sudden a blue spotlight hits the scorer’s table where Beverley is lying on his back, eyes closed. An electric guitar chord hits, and Beverley sits bolt upright like The Undertaker, resurrected and ready for revenge.
3. Who will win MVP of the play-in tournament? (If that was an actual thing).
Dan Gilinsky, King James Gospel: Hmm…if that was a real thing, I’d have to go with Trae Young. He’s among the league’s hottest players right now — in his last 14 games, he’s averaging 30.4 points per contest on 64.9 percent true shooting, to go with 11.0 assists. That’s my pick for this.
Mike Luciano, Raptors Rapture: Kevin Durant is the obvious answer, but I’m going to go with CJ McCollum. The Pelicans have a legitimate shot of making it out of the tournament without Zion Williamson, and the main reason is because McCollum has taken over as the primary scorer. He’s making nearly half of his shots and 40 percent of his 3-pointers in New Orleans. Beating the Spurs and one of either Minnesota or LA is not the craziest thing in the world if McCollum gets hot.
Ian Levy, The Step Back: Darius Garland. He goes off against the Nets, dropping 40, making Kyrie Irving look even worse by comparison, and adding another shiny gold star to his breakout season. And then he heads to halfcourt to fan Kevin Love with a towel while he does his worm.
Other NBA stories:
A triple-dose of The Long Two landed last week. On Monday, Ben Ladner shared the first piece of his NBA Awards ballot, including All-Rookie team, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Most Improved and Sixth Man of the Year. On Wednesday, he went deep on Defensive Player of the Year and the All-Defense team. On Friday, you had his picks for MVP and All-NBA teams.
Our WNBA Mock Draft takes a look at a talented crop of prospects and a draft order that has been dramatically remade by a number of trades.
Optimizing the combination of James Harden and Joel Embiid for the 76ers means utilizing the pick-and-roll, a play neither player has used much the past few years.
Scottie Barnes might not be the Rookie of the Year, but he’s definitely not just a guy.
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