Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday during the NBA regular season we are here to help you break it all down. Here are three things you need to know from last weekend in the NBA.
1) The Lakers measured up. The Lakers entered the weekend 0-3 against the other top two contenders – 0-2 vs. the Clippers, 0-1 vs. the Bucks. Did those three games mean the Lakers wouldn’t win a title? Not at all. The Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a larger record of excellence. But those three losses left an absence of proof the Lakers stacked up with the best of the best.
Now, the Lakers have that on their resumé, too.
The Lakers beat the Bucks on Friday and Clippers on Sunday. Kurt Helin was there and analyzed what the weekend meant for all three elite teams.
2) The Nets fired Kenny Atkinson, altered their starting lineup and won. Brooklyn changed its culture by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. For better or worse? The talent upgrade obviously substantially raised the Nets’ ceiling. But they also opened themselves to more turbulence as they (theoretically) take off.
The Nets signed Jordan to a lucrative four-year contract as part of the Durant-Irving package. That’s despite having a decade-younger, just-as-good incumbent starting center in Jarrett Allen. Allen has continued to produce amid repeated slights and even held his starting spot.
But as soon as the Nets fired Atkinson, interim coach Jacque Vaughn started Jordan over Allen. That’s the type of decision players notice and remember. It speaks to where the organization is headed.
Jordan (11 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) played well in Brooklyn’s win over the Bulls yesterday. Maybe all the Nets support Jordan over Allen, anyway. But if anyone has reservations, it’s much harder to state them when the player is succeeding and the team is winning.
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo is missing at least two games with a knee injury suffered in Los Angeles. There’s no need to panic. The Bucks have built a solid cushion over the rest of the league, especially the rest of the East.
This could even turn into a blessing in disguise if Milwaukee – which also lost to the Suns yesterday to drop to 53-11 – stops pursuing 70 wins. The Bucks definitely can no longer match the 72-win Bulls.
Heck, this could even boost Antetokounmpo’s MVP case. If Milwaukee continues to struggle without him, it’d shine his on-off marks.
But until hearing a more-concrete timeline on Antetokounmpo’s absence, some trepidation remains. His health is essential to the Bucks meeting their goals this season.