The NBA is easing into the second half of the season, only putting two games on for tonight. With fans starting to slowly trickle onto the bleachers, the intensity of the games is going to increase as teams look to position themselves better for a postseason appearance. The NBA still may not be completely back to normal, but it’s trying, and the 2021 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF) Class of 2021 now has its finalists.
Wizards Face The Grizzlies
The Washington Wizards are 12th in the Eastern and take on the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. Sitting at 10th in the Western, the Grizzlies are right at .500 and are hoping to push ahead with this game. That’s not going to be easy, as the Wiz can count on Bradley Beal, the league leader in scoring with an average of 32.9 points per game.
This is the second time these two teams meet this season and the Grizzlies took the first, 125-111, on March 2. Ja Morant put up 35 points for Memphis, while Russell Westbrook could only muster 23 for Washington. Sports gamblers can expect more of the same tonight, with the Grizzlies getting an easy -148 against the +123 for the Wiz on Unibet. It’s expected to be a tight game on a three-point spread, and the Over/Under of 238 (-109) seems a little on the low side for the first game after the break.
The Texas Showdown
The San Antonio Spurs head over to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in the second of today’s thin lineup. As opposed to their NFL counterparts last season, the Mavs are playing like a professional sports team and have taken nine of their last 11 games. This is going to be a Western Conference battle that could decide position, as the Spurs sit just one game ahead of the Mavericks.
Dallas won the last time these two teams met, thanks mostly to Luka Doncic. He put up 36 points and nine rebounds to help the Mavs take the 122-117 win, and is 52% overall in field goal attempts this season. The Spurs showed signs of life ahead of the All-Star break and this won’t be an easy game for either team. The Mavericks are getting the advantage at -180 (the Spurs are at +148) and a -4.5 spread for Dallas is right on the money. The 221 (-112) Over/Under for this game also seems a little low.
Pierce And Webber HOF Finalists
The finalists for selection into this year’s basketball HOF class were announced last night and several great names are on the list. Paul Pierce has been nominated for the first time after having spent 19 seasons in the NBA, 15 of which were with the Boston Celtics. During his time with the team, he picked up a championship title and a Finals MVP title and was second on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list, right behind John Havlicek.
Chris Webber entered the NBA in 1993, the number-one pick in that year’s draft. He spent 17 seasons in the league, starting and ending with the Golden State Warriors, playing on several teams in between. During his career, he was a 5-time All-Star, an NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA rebounding leader.
Chris Bosh has been nominated again, the second year in a row. He wasn’t selected as a finalist last year, but advanced this time around. He spent 13 seasons in the league and had to withdraw due to a blood clot issue, but his 11 All-Star appearances, pair of NBA championships and Olympic gold medal will always define him as a stellar athlete.
Key Figures Make Final HOF Cut
There are several other high-profile and deserving people who made it to the final round in the HOF nomination process. Coach Rick Adelman, the ninth winningest coach in NBA history, is included, as is Villanova coach Jay Wright, a two-time NCAA champion. Marianne Stanley, who coached Old Dominion to an NCAA title in 1985, and Leta Andrews, the all-time winningest high school coach, male or female, are there, as well.
Bill Russell is back as an HOF finalist. The first Black head coach in the NBA, he was inducted as a player in 1975, but is now on the list as a coach. Russell is responsible for Boston’s consecutive championship titles in 1968 and 1969.
The new class will be inducted this September in Springfield, MA. Last year’s inductees still haven’t been officially added, because of COVID-19, and will have their enshrinement ceremony this May at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Among the names to be inducted are Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and, of course, Kobe Bryant.