/The Big Questions as the NBA Prepares to Return

The Big Questions as the NBA Prepares to Return

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the players’ association are itching to get back on the court and finish the 2019-20 season. As players, coaches, and fans await an announcement, it’s time to reconsider the real questions surrounding this season.

Is Milwaukee the same team as a year ago?

Remember, the Bucks had the best record in the NBA last season, went up 2-0 on Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals, and then promptly checked out of the postseason. League MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a year older and wiser and statistically the Bucks are even better than a year ago. And that is minus Malcolm Brogdon.

The half-court defense gives up too many 3s to opposing bigs and George Hill and Khris Middleton will have to pick up where they left off two months ago. If the Bucks improve the defense and continue to offensive onslaught, then they just might be different enough than last year.

Do the Lakers have a playoff-worthy offense?

Sure, the Lakers benefit from the dynamic playmaking of LeBron James, but do they have a half-court offense that can compete for an NBA title? So far in 2019-20, Los Angeles ranks 15th in the league in half-court offense. That’s not good. Regardless, if head coach Frank Vogel wants to rely on James’ ability to run and play 40-plus minutes per game then that might be all the offense the Lakers need.

Is Boston really that good?

In simple terms, no, but it is interesting that the Celtics rank fourth in defense and fifth in offense. Going even deeper, Boston ranks second on offense against the league’s top-10 defenses. The Celtics are first defensively against top-10 offenses. That means they play their best against the league’s best.

Still, Kemba Walker is too small to defend bigger point guards and star Jayson Tatum is just 22 years old. The Boston bench is questionable. The Celtics can win a first-round playoff series, but reaching even a conference final is a stretch.

Can Philadelphia win on the road?

Quick, which team has the best home record in the NBA? It’s not Milwaukee. It’s the Philadelphia 76ers who are 29-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. On the road? That’s a different story. The Sixers are just 10-24 away from home. 

At home, Philly is second in defense and in net rating, but on the road those numbers drop significantly. The Sixers are 20th in defense and 24th in net rating. Ouch! That will have to change if Philadelphia wants to get past a first-round playoff series.

Rick Bouch