2021 Midseason Report

Blogtable: Top storyline to follow in season's second half?

From Anthony Davis' gimpy Achilles to Brooklyn's budding cohesion, the second half of the season has no shortage of tantalizing narratives to follow.

How will the Nets’ new superstar trio hold up in the season’s second half?

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What is the top storyline to follow during the second half of the season?

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Steve Aschburner: So many from which to choose, from how well all three Brooklyn scoring stars blend heading to the postseason to how much kick teams such as Denver, Dallas, Boston, Miami, Toronto and Milwaukee have in the home stretch for playoff seeding. But I’m going micro and focusing on Lakers big man Anthony Davis’ troublesome Achilles and calf injury. Davis only has played 23 of 37 games, missing the final nine and 11 of 13 heading into the break. Now, the idea of all that idle time is for the leg to heal and Davis to be ready to go. But if it becomes a nagging thing or, ugh, worsens, the defending champions suddenly will be cast into a far dimmer playoffs light.

Shaun PowellI’ll be curious to see which direction the Celtics go. To put it mildly, it’s been a first half to forget, given the injury to Marcus Smart and the terrible defeats this team endured to some lesser teams. How can a team with a pair of All-Stars look so meek, sometimes twice a week? Even with the defection of Gordon Hayward to the Hornets, the Celtics expected better results than this. Sticking with the East, I’m also anxious to see the true formidability of the Nets. Because of Kevin Durant’s extended absence, the scoring onslaught of Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G. Three hasn’t been fully unleashed. Can they reach 175 points in a game? You know, just for fun? Now that they’re playing defense, the Nets are trending up in the East and the conference could be theirs to lose.

John Schuhmann: Brooklyn’s ability to minimize mistakes. The numbers, thus far, confirm the idea that Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving is the best collection of offensive talent that we’ve ever seen. The 118.2 points per 100 possessions that the Nets have scored leads the league and they’ve had all three guys available for just seven games. The Nets’ effective field goal percentage (58.8%) is the highest in NBA history, but they’ve run into trouble with turnovers and, obviously, with defense. If they can limit their mistakes, both in regard to taking care of the ball and switching defensively, they’re the best team in the league.

Michael C. Wright: It might not qualify as the “top” storyline, but the most fascinating seems to be how the Brooklyn Nets continue to grow throughout the season. There might not be another team in the NBA with a higher ceiling, and James Harden’s chameleon-like ability to morph into whatever the Nets need him to be plays a significant role. “When James is being James, it makes our job a lot easier,” Kyrie Irving said Mar. 1 after Harden put up his seventh triple-double since joining the Nets in an overtime win over San Antonio. “So, we’ve got to get used to somebody special like that in terms of breaking records. I can’t wait to be right alongside him, my name in Nets history, and all the guys on our team where we’re just breaking records as a team, and then, individually, we’re stacking up with some of the best to ever play.” The scariest part is the trio of Harden, Irving and Kevin Durant have played in just seven games so far this season, and the Nets aren’t far behind the 76ers for the lead in the Eastern Conference. Right now, it just looks like the Brooklyn Nets are capable of reaching a level that no other team in the NBA is capable of — in either conference. Obviously, winning comes down to much more than just talent. But with so many games still left to play, Brooklyn has plenty of time to figure things out before the postseason