Top 5 Bold Predictions for Week 22 in the NBA - Thunder Massive Streak
Kind of like how the Masters doesn’t begin until the back nine on Sunday, the NBA season basically doesn’t begin until the playoffs (well, unless you’re the Lakers, in which case it both begins and ends much sooner than that). But a whole lot of headlines are currently being made even though the madness of March is generally reserved for college. Fights have broken out, fans are getting into it with both players and owners, and history has happened (LeBron James, even Lou Williams….). What headlines will the upcoming week make? Let’s dive into some bold predictions for week 22 in the NBA.
Kawhi Leonard will have at least one more “load management” game
The Raptors have already sat Kawhi Leonard from several games to manage his load, and more of the same will likely continue—probably at least once a week for the rest of the season, in fact. Toronto’s chances to earn the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs are all but gone. Leonard and company are 2.5 games behind Milwaukee, they just lost to Cleveland by 25 points, and Serge Ibaka is going to be suspended after fighting Marquese Chriss of the Cavaliers. With Toronto basically locked into the second spot, there is no reason to overwork Leonard.
Karl-Anthony Towns will slowly get shut down
With the Clippers on fire and both San Antonio and Utah also too far ahead—and too good—to pass, the Timberwolves are no longer in contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are 32-35 and 5.5 games behind the eighth-place Jazz. Karl-Anthony Towns suffered a knee injury last week and missed Sunday’s win over the Knicks. An MRI revealed nothing major and he is listed only as day-to-day, but Minnesota has no reason to do anything stupid with its star big man now that postseason hopes are gone. Expect him to start getting Anthony Davis treatment.
Chicago will lose its next four games
Don’t look now, but the Bulls are suddenly in contention for an all-important bottom-three spot in the standings. Following the Cavs’ rout of Toronto, Chicago is just 1.5 games “ahead” of Cleveland as the fourth-worst team in the association. Moreover, Zach LaVine is hurt and may be out for the season. The Bulls were already bad with LaVine. Now they are even worse—and have an even greater incentive to lose. No matter that the Lakers and Suns are upcoming on the schedule; this team will keep losing.
Russell Westbrook will lead OKC to five straight wins
Russell Westbrook is going to play some inspired basketball over the coming days. He got into an ugly shouting match with a Jazz fan during Oklahoma City’s win over Utah on Monday and may remain upset about it for a while. Moreover, the Thunder are locked in a battle for the No. 3 through No. 6 seeds in the Western Conference (they are currently fourth, one game behind Houston and a half-game ahead of Portland) and the benefits of finishing third are obvious. OKC has two tough tests coming up: at Indiana and home vs. Golden State. But both are winnable—especially if Westbrook is playing like a man possessed.
James Dolan won’t sell, but will un-ban fan
File this under the department of absolutely ridiculous: Knicks owner James Dolan got a fan banned from Madison Square Garden for yelling, “Sell the team!” Now there are reports that Dolan is actually fielding offers to buy the franchise from him, although those reports obviously got shut down by team and stadium management. The 63-year-old isn’t going to sell, and he’s certainly not going to sell right now when it would make him look especially soft. But Dolan will un-ban the fan; not because he is a decent person who has sense, but for public relations purposes.