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3 NBA Teams Surprisingly In The Lottery Discussion

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(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

 

Every year there are NBA teams that surprise people.

Whether that be from exceeding expectations or falling short, NBA seasons rarely follow the chalk.

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The 2021-22 season is no different.

Golden State, Chicago, and Memphis are better than most anticipated before opening night.

And the Cleveland Cavaliers are light years ahead of where pundits thought they would be.

But for every surprisingly good team, there must be a surprisingly bad team.

There are only 1,230 wins to go around and if one team takes more than expected, one team must take fewer.

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These three NBA teams have fallen short of preseason expectations so far and are surprisingly in the lottery discussion.

 

3. Portland Trail Blazers

First up is the Portland Trail Blazers, the sixth seed in the Western Conference last season.

Heading into the 2021-22 season, many predicted the Blazers would once again make the playoffs.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum formed a two-headed monster at the guard position and powered the Portland offense.

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Jusuf Nurkic would anchor the defense while Larry Nance Jr., Robert Covington, and Nassir Little hounded perimeter players.

Norman Powell would provide a third scoring option and new coach Chauncey Billups would inject a new voice into the locker room.

Instead, the Trail Blazers have faltered out to a 13-21 start, losing 13 of their past 16 games.

Lillard has not been the gravity-bending force he has been in years past.

And paired with McCollum missing time due to a collapsed lung, the Blazers have struggled.

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Their defense has remained in the bottom five like years past, surrendering 111.9 points per contest.

And while a top-six offense has kept them afloat the past three years, it has fallen to 13th this season.

McCollum’s lung has reportedly healed so he should be set to begin the process of returning to the lineup.

But Portland does not seem primed to turn the ship around.

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Billups has been disappointing in his first season at the helm.

Questionable tactics and substitution patterns have led to numerous stories already that Billups is losing the team.

Portland has made the playoffs eight consecutive seasons and seemed primed to make it nine this year.

As it stands now, though, they will be drafting in the lottery next year.

 

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2. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks seemed like a team on the rise last year.

They won seven of their last eight games to surge into the five seed and make their first playoff appearance since 2017.

Atlanta completed a gentleman’s sweep of the New York Knicks before shocking the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round and advancing to the Conference Finals.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks would dispatch of them in six games but the Hawks displayed potential.

Trae Young made the leap to superstardom and their bevy of young wings all showed promise.

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John Collins was brought back and 10 of the 11 rotation players to average 20+ minutes per game returned.

Interim coach Nate McMillan was given the position full-time after going 27-11 last year and leading the playoff push.

This year has not gotten off to the desired start.

Atlanta is 15-19, good for the 10th-worst record in the league.

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Young and Collins continue to power an offense that is 10th-best in the league.

And looks even better when you see their gaudy 113.3 offensive rating – second-best in the league.

But the defense is not up to par.

Atlanta surrenders 110.3 points per game – seventh-worst – which correlates to a defensive rating of 113.3 – fourth-worst.

The offense is right in-line with last year’s team that made a Cinderella run.

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But last year’s team only gave up 111.4 points per game – good for 12th-best in the league.

A number that shrunk to 109.8 per game under McMillan.

The defense has not followed the Hawks into 2021-22.

 

1. Los Angeles Lakers

Finally, we have the Los Angeles Lakers.

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A team led by LeBron James that has been championship-or-bust since he arrived.

And right now, they do not appear to be a championship team.

LA is a disappointing 17-19 through 36 games and has lost six of their last seven.

Even with LeBron averaging 32.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists across those seven games.

James’ co-star, Anthony Davis, has missed the last six with a strained MCL and is out for the immediate future.

Their big offseason acquisition in Russell Westbrook has not paid dividends as the Lakers had hoped.

His 19.7/8.1/8.3 stat line is impressive, but his poor shooting ability has hindered offensive spacing.

The Lakers lack perimeter shooters and as such are in the bottom half of the NBA in 3P, 3PA, and 3PAr.

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Not a winning formula in the modern-day NBA.

But the bigger issue is on the defensive end.

The 2020-21 Lakers allowed the second-fewest points per game and had the best defensive rating.

This year, those rankings had plummeted to 27th and 12th, respectively.

LA has few perimeter defenders and their interior stoppers are either A) injured (Davis) or B) old (Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan).

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The lack of frontcourt depth is the reason LeBron got his first career start at center against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.

Outside of 21-year-old Talen Horton-Tucker, the Lakers have very little trade ammunition.

So Los Angeles will be hoping for internal improvements.

If not, the Lakers may be in danger of finishing in the lottery for the second time in LeBron’s four years donning the purple and gold.

The post 3 NBA Teams Surprisingly In The Lottery Discussion appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Arsenal vs. Leicester City: live stream: Premier League prediction, TV channel, watch online, start time, odds

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Arsenal’s first home game of the Premier League season will see them welcome Leicester City to the Emirates Stadium with the Gunners bidding to make it two wins from two. Games against Crystal Palace and the Foxes are not among the top flight’s easiest assignments but they are the sort that Mikel Arteta will need to win if his side are to secure a top four finish in 2023; with Tottenham and Chelsea facing off the following day, this game also offers the chance to gain some very early ground on their likely rivals.

Leicester, meanwhile, head to north London looking for their first win of the Premier League season after they let a two goal lead slip against Brentford on Sunday. The future of a host of players will be under the spotlight on Saturday, most notably Youri Tielemans, the subject of interest from Arsenal that has not yet translated into a formal offer. Here is how you can watch the match and what you need to know:

Want more soccer? Paramount+ is the only place to watch every minute of every Serie A match this season, not to mention select games in Italian. Sign up now with offer code ITALY to get a special one month free trial. A subscription also gives you access to other sports content including every UEFA Champions League and Europa League match, the NFL on CBS, and countless movies and shows. Get it all free for one month with promo code ITALY.

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Viewing information

  • Date: Saturday, Aug. 13 | Time: 10 a.m. ET
  • Location: Emirates Stadium — London, United Kingdom
  • TV and live stream: Peacock
  • Odds: Arsenal -200; Draw +333; Leicester +550 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Arsenal vs. Leicester City

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Arsenal: After a man of the match performance on his debut, William Saliba is in for another test as he takes the field at the Emirates for the first time, one that has often proven beyond Arsenal center backs. Only Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney have scored more Premier League goals against the Gunners than the 11 Jamie Vardy has registered; the 35 year old has long lurked menacingly on the shoulder of defenders at the Emirates Stadium and will surely look to test whether Saliba has the pace to stick with him.

If Saliba were to struggle then Arsenal could at least have more options at the back anyway with Takehiro Tomiyasu having completed 45 minutes in the Under-23s match against Manchester United on Saturday. Emile Smith Rowe and Fabio Vieira, both of whom missed the opening day win over Crystal Palace, returned to first team training this week. However Arteta has confirmed that Reiss Nelson has suffered a significant injury, as first revealed by CBS Sports on Thursday.

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Leicester City: Tielemans is not the only Leicester player who is the subject of transfer interest; indeed Brendan Rodgers could be forgiven for simply wishing on the arrival of September 1. James Maddison is the subject of interest from Newcastle whilst by the time Wesley Fofana takes the pitch on Saturday Chelsea might have submitted a third bid for the Frenchman.

“Speculation can affect the whole group if you don’t manage it,” Rodgers said. “The message is to keep your eye on the ball and focus on your football. It’s notoriously that time of the year where is that speculation and gossip around, but it’s something I haven’t seen in the group. They’ve trained to a really good level and the intensity has been really good. Everyone is focused on doing their best in games for Leicester City.”

Prediction

Rodgers himself admits he is facing an Arsenal side that have added “world class” talent… they may be too good for Leicester. PICK: Arsenal 2, Leicester 0





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Astros' Brantley out after season-ending shoulder surgery

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Houston Astros outfielder Michael Brantley, a five-time All-Star, is out with season-ending shoulder surgery.



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Lamar Jackson seeking a $230M+ fully-guaranteed deal from Ravens | SPEAK FOR YOURSELF

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Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is reportedly seeking a new, fully-guaranteed contract worth more than Deshaun Watson’s $230 million deal with the Cleveland Browns. However, does he deserve it? Emmanuel Acho explains whether the Ravens should pay Lamar a fully-guaranteed contract.



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