The Year That Was: NBA in 2017

Basketball

ByTheMinNBA

The National Basketball Association. For me, one of the most exciting sports leagues in the world. And 2017 lived up to expectations in several ways, such as the NBA Finals winners being predictable, and the team which lost in the Finals being predictable. That has been easy to predict since 2015 mind. Anyway, I’m Nathan Waywell (@N_Waywell) and today I’ll be going through the highs and lows of The Year That Was: NBA in 2017.

JANUARY: My personal highlight in January was the NBA London game at the o2 Arena between the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers. This is probably because i was there. The actual experience of being at a game is one I highly recommend. However, the game itself was a blowout. Indiana played like they had left their starters across the pond. Denver ran out 140-112 winners, with center Nikola Jokic getting 22 points, 10 rebound and 7 assists. The result was unexpected to say the least, as prior to the game Indiana were on a 5 game win streak, and Denver were on a 5 game lose streak. The Nuggets finished the regular season 40-32, whilst the Pacers finished 42-40, with only the latter making the post season.

FEBRUARY: There wasn’t as many games in February because of the all star break. In terms of all star weekend, it kicked off with the celebrity game, but no one really cares about that so I’ll move on. Also on the Friday night was the rising stars challenge, which always produces memorable plays. Team World beat Team USA 150-141. Onto Saturday night now, where the skills challenge, three point contest and the infamous dunk contest took place. Kristaps Porzingis of the NY Knicks won the skills challenge, which is impressive considering he is 7 foot tall. Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets prevailed in a three point contest which included some superstars, most notably Klay Thompson and Kyle Lowry. Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest, with Derrick Jones finishing runner up. This was another surprising result, as dunk contest veteran Aaron Gordon and the Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan were also involved. The main event on Sunday night was unforgettable. The West defeated the East 192-182, with the MVP award going to the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, who scored the most points in an All Star game EVER. The highest scorer from the East was Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yes, I spelt that right.

MARCH: The final stretch of the regular season. The two teams which really stept up in this month were Milwaukee Bucks and the Portland Trail Blazers. This was rewarded with Jason Kidd (Milwaukee head coach) and Terry Stots (Portland head coach) winning the coach of the month awards in the East and West. Also, Antetokounmpo and Lillard, arguably the star players for the Bucks and Blazers respectively, won player of the month for the East and West. Without their form, neither team might not have made the playoffs.

APRIL: The end of the regular season and the beginning of playoff basketball. The best team to not make the playoffs was the Miami Heat, who narrowly missed out on the 8th seed. They finished with the same record as the Chicago Bulls, but because the Bulls had a 2-1 head to head record against the Heat, they got the 8th seed. In terms of the playoffs in April, the first round was done and dusted by the end of the month. The only team to not win who didn’t have home court advantage (and the higher seed out of the two teams in the series) was the Los Angeles Clippers, who lost 104-91 to the Utah Jazz in game 7 at the Staples Center.

MAY: A month later, there was two teams left. There was four series in the second round, and all four went to the team who had home court advantage. For only the second and final time in the playoffs, the team with the home court advantage did not win in the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their third NBA Finals in as many seasons, defeating the Boston Celtics 4-1. Over in the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors beat the Spurs 4-0 to move to 12-0 in the playoffs. It was set up for the decider in a sense. The Cavs beat the Warriors 4-3 in the 2016 Finals, and Golden State prevailed winners by four games to two against Cleveland in 2015.

JUNE: The anticipation was through the roof as game 1 began. The Warriors managed to win the first 2 games on their own court. This was expected considering the staggering home record they had. The deciding moment of the Finals though was arguably in game 3, where forward Kevin Durant managed to hit a three with barely any time left on the clock. The Warriors won game 3 118-113, and were one win away from their second championship in three years. Game 4 was the first time it didn’t go their way in the playoffs. Cleveland won 137-116 to force a game 5. After they cameback from 3-1 down to win last year, surely a comeback from 3-0 down couldn’t happen? Nope, it didn’t happen. The Warriors took game 5 129-120 to secure the NBA Championship. The Finals MVP award went to Kevin Durant.

JUNE (continued): After the Finals had finished, the focus turned towards the NBA Draft. The rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick. The second pick stole all the headlines though. The Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball to be the new face of their franchise. He was already a superstar before he was drafted, mainly because of his Dad, LaVar Ball. Yep, the main currently winding up the President of the United States of America. HE IS A DAD OF A BASKETBALLER, HE SHOULD NOT BE THIS FAMOUS. The fame of the Balls only grew as their new reality show was released, which also included Liangelo (right side of picture) and Lamelo Ball (left side of picture) who are currently in college and high school respectively. LiAngelo Ball began LaVar Balls feud with Trump, all because he stole sunglasses from a shop in China. That story is as good as it sounds, so google that once you’ve finished reading this, or go and check out the US Sports Podcast from a couple of weeks ago. Finally, ICYMI, LaVar Ball said recently he sent Trump some ZO2 shoes (the shoes Lonzo Ball wears, created by Big Baller Brand, which also happens to be the business ran by LaVar Ball) as a peace offering. FFS. UPDATE: Lavar Ball has pulled LiAngelo Ball from UCLA. And he still believes he will get drafted. LOL.

THE OFF-SEASON: It’s not a month, but what else am I going to call this section. Half of June/July/August/September/half of October? Because that’s catchy. If the actual basketball was as good as the off-season, then we were in store for a hell of a season. The amount of big moves which happened was incredible. By the time I finished talking about them all the players mentioned wouldn’t be at the same team. To summarise, Jimmy Butler joined the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had high hopes for the season ahead, Chris Paul joined the Houston Rockets, and Carmelo Anthony and Paul George joined Russell Westbrook (the reigning MVP; he won the award ahead of James Harden in the off-season) to create a big three at the Oklahoma City Thunder. The biggest trade for years grabbed all the headlines though, as Kyrie Irving joined the Celtics from rivals Cleveland, whilst Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder went the other way. Fun fact: Kyrie Irving genuinely thinks the Earth is flat. The Celtics wanted to stop the Cavaliers’ run of three straight Finals, and they saw this as the golden opportunity to do so. The Thunder, Rockets and Timberwolves had the same aspirations n the Western Conference. These were the three teams everyone expected to challenge the super team the Warriors had.

OCTOBER: NBA basketball returned with a bang. And new jerseys too. Nike were now providing all the NBA jerseys. Sponsors were now allowed on the jerseys too. On opening night, arguably the two best teams from each conference faced each other, with more back stories than a Sherlock Holmes plot. Kyrie Irving was making his debut for Boston in Cleveland, and Jae Crowder was facing his old team in his first game for the Cavaliers. Thomas was injured though, so he missed out on all the fun and games. The worst news of an otherwise terrific night was the broken leg Gordon Hayward sustained, only several minutes into his Boston debut. The Cavs managed to get the win in the end though. The second game of the night was between Houston and Golden State. Houston managed to get a shock win and send a message to the rest of the NBA.