Home NBA NBA Regular Season notes & buzz: May 1-16

NBA Regular Season notes & buzz: May 1-16

Photo: Chris Elise/Getty Images

The NBA playoffs are now here, as the regular season wrapped up on Sunday. The postseason & NBA Draft Lottery are next on the league’s schedule.

Philly sees improvement as a team, Ben Simmons ready to go after missing 2020 playoffs: The Sixers were able to get the #1 seed in the East, led by Joel Embiid’s career season, new coach Doc Rivers and veteran additions. Ben Simmons will make his first healthy playoff appearance since 2019.

Healthy Nets squad looks tough heading into postseason, a lot of playoff experience on roster: There’s no doubt Brooklyn’s talent can win a championship. Roster is veteran heavy and players know their roles, a shot at the Finals looks very realistic.

Bucks have another solid regular season, a big rematch with the Heat awaits: Milwaukee’s starters and bench looked quite improved compared to last year. The Bucks playoff matchup will be against a Miami team coming off making the 2020 NBA Finals.

Knicks buy into Thibodeau, had great success against Hawks in regular season: Tom Thibodeau’s emphasis on defense and playing hard turned into wins for the Knicks. New York plays the Hawks in the first round, a team they beat 3 out of 3 times this year.

Atlanta goes from 20 to 41 wins, lost all their games vs. the Knicks this season: The Hawks went from a bottom East team to a #5 seed. Although they didn’t get a win in any matchup vs. New York, the club has the coaching and players to get it done in their first round playoff series.

Victor Oladipo out for Heat, playing Milwaukee again after beating them in last year’s playoffs: Victor Oladipo’s knee issues will keep him out for the playoffs. The defending Eastern Conference champs played confident basketball these last few weeks.

Celtics lose Jaylen Brown, injuries & inconsistency result in #7 spot: Jaylen Brown will not be in Boston’s lineup this postseason due to a left wrist injury. Kemba Walker only played in 43 games this year, as Marcus Smart logged 48.

Wizards move all the way up to 8th place, Bradley Beal health: Washington found a groove as a team down the stretch, as every player stuck to what they do best. Bradley Beal will play in the play-in game vs. Boston, but said he’s not 100%.

Pacers injuries result in slide, LeVert, Turner & Warren out: Indiana didn’t have Domantas Sabonis for last year’s playoffs and now won’t have Caris LeVert, Myles Turner or TJ Warren this time around in the 2021 play-in tournament.

Hornets lose 5 straight to end year, LaMelo back & Hayward still out: Despite falling all the way to the 10th spot, Charlotte showed they can be a playoff team when at full strength. LaMelo Ball is back, while Gordon Hayward has been out since early April and won’t play on Tuesday vs. Indiana for the play-in game.

Bulls trades don’t get them into playoffs or play-in spot, management clearly in win now mode for 2022: Trading for Nikola Vucevic will help for the future, but how far it takes Chicago remains to be seen. The Bulls have some decisions to make this summer about who will play alongside Vucevic & LaVine going forward.

Raptors time in Tampa Bay comes to an end, this season was hard to judge: Covid-19, injuries, and being away from home resulted in a surprising 12th place finish for the Raptors. We will see if all that really mattered when they’re back in Toronto next season.

Cavs will need to continue to build, still have a long way to go: The future looks bright for Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen & Isaac Okoro as players, but at the moment that isn’t resulting in wins. 

Orlando hoping for healthy Fultz & Isaac, new roles next season: Having starters like Markelle Fultz & Jonathan Isaac back should help the Magic when they can get fully healthy. With former veterans like Vucevic, Gordon & Fournier now gone, Orlando will look very different in 2022.

Pistons youth sees quality action, Jerami Grant jumps from 12.0 PPG to 22.3 PPG: All four of Detroit’s draft picks (Hayes, Stewart, Bey, Lee) played meaningful minutes this season. Veteran signing Jerami Grant proved to be worth it, as he scored the ball at a high level.

Jazz’s Bogdanovic back for playoffs, Mitchell health: Utah will have Bojan Bogdanovic back for the postseason after missing the Orlando bubble. The Jazz are hoping for a playoff ready Donovan Mitchell following missing the last 16 regular season games.

Great regular season for Phoenix, real test starts now: Everything went right for Phoenix in the regular season, but that means nothing now. A first round matchup with the defending champion Lakers coming out of the play-in is very likely.

Nuggets will need to step up defense on high scoring Blazers, Murray & Barton out: Denver’s focus on defense against Portland’s top players will be key, as their backcourt is known to go on huge scoring runs. Also Michael Porter Jr. & Aaron Gordon will need to pick it up on offense with no Jamal Murray or Will Barton.

Clippers play Dallas again, postseason lineup rotations: The Clippers definitely have a more experienced roster this year, but still have a lot to prove. Coach Ty Lue has some tough decisions to make on his playoff lineup rotations.

Mavs have consistent 2020-2021, Porzingis health for playoffs: Dallas saw improvements from a number of players this season, which resulted in a 5th place finish. The Mavs are hoping Kristaps Porzingis can stay healthy this playoffs after going down in the bubble.

Portland finishes season strong, play Denver in playoffs: The Trail Blazers finished the season 8-2 and looked impressive vs. the Nuggets in their last matchup. There’s no doubt this club has the veteran experience to possibly upset Denver.

Lakers drop due to injuries, but are still the defending champs: Anthony Davis & LeBron James are back for LA. The club will have a different challenge this season with the play-in, as the 2020 champs will go through a tougher road.

Curry wins scoring title, Jordan Poole balling out for Golden State: Steph Curry’s second half of his 2020-2021 season will be remembered in the history books forever. Warriors youngster Jordan Poole is averaging 21.8 PPG on 56.5% FG/45.0% 3-PT/95.5% FT in his last five games.

Memphis goes hard as a team all season, playing Spurs in play-in game: The Grizzlies saw valuable contributions from every member of their club this season. As a team compared to San Antonio, Memphis is definitely playing better basketball going into the play-in game.

Spurs lose 10 of 12, lacking offense since Derrick White injury: San Antonio currently doesn’t look comfortable as a group. The absence of Derrick White’s scoring & playmaking skills have been noticeably missing.

Pelicans 4th quarter problems, Zion & Ingram late injuries: New Orleans had many chances to win games in the 4th quarter this season. Zion Williamson & Brandon Ingram missed important games in May.

Kings finish strong, but future still a question: Sacramento played solid team basketball to end the year, but that doesn’t really mean much. The franchise still has a lot to figure out overall.

Minnesota’s Towns, Russell & Edwards looked solid when all available: Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell & Anthony Edwards took over a number of games this season. The abilities are there, but consistency will be needed on both ends to win.

SGA & Horford don’t play since March, OKC loses many games in last two months: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander & Al Horford being out didn’t give the club much of a chance to win. Winning wasn’t a top priority, as the Thunder have a crazy number of draft picks going forward.

Houston’s disastrous season finally over, hoping for top pick: The Rockets waived talented players, kept James Harden for too long when he clearly wanted out, and traded for Victor Oladipo only to get rid of him, but finally their losing season is now a memory.

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