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2021-22 NBA season preview: Milwaukee Bucks all set for title defence

Updated on: 19 October,2021 02:10 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

The NBA’s 75thh Anniversary Season will honour the players and teams – both past and present – who have entertained and inspired generations of fans around the world

2021-22 NBA season preview: Milwaukee Bucks all set for title defence

Pic Courtesy/ PR

The countdown to the start of NBA’s 2021-22 season is almost over.  The season tips off with title aspirations spread across the league, from former contenders to rising youngsters, everyone is trying to earn the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy this season.  Fans at home can be thrilled to see their favourites return to the court and duke it out in what will be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. The unpredictable 2021 NBA Playoffs showed that anything is possible, and a blockbuster summer of player movement has reshaped the league again.  Get ready for a thrilling championship chase in the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Season.

The NBA’s 75thh Anniversary Season will honour the players and teams – both past and present – who have entertained and inspired generations of fans around the world.  Highlights include the unveiling of the 75 greatest players in NBA history, a commemoration of league-defining moments and a global celebration of the game at NBA All-Star in Cleveland (which last hosted All-Star when the league marked its 50th anniversary in 1997). 

In addition to all these league achievements, we may see a sensational season on the court that may see many all-time records shattered.  Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is set to become the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made this season, needing 143 three-pointers to pass Ray Allen for the record.  Curry led the NBA with 337 three-pointers made in 2020-21.  San Antonio Spurs head coach and five-time NBA Champion Gregg Popovich begins the season needing 26 wins to pass Don Nelson for the most coaching victories in NBA history.  (Popovich currently ranks third all-time and needs 23 wins to pass Lenny Wilkens for second place.)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James continues stacking accomplishments as he enters his 19th NBA season.  James (35,367 career points) is on the cusp of surpassing Karl Malone (36,928 career points) to become the second-leading scorer in NBA History.

International players continue to leave their mark on the NBA.  A record nine international players were named NBA All-Stars last season.  The reigning MVPs of the regular season (Serbian centre Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets), Finals (Greek forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks) and All-Star Game (Antetokounmpo) are international players.  Jokić and Antetokounmpo were joined by Slovenian guard Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks on the 2020-21 All-NBA First Team, marking a record three European players on the First Team.    

The NBA Championship is decided by the best team in the two conferences (East and West).  The 82-game regular season sets the stage for a 16-team playoff run that features the best 8 teams from each Conference.

The Eastern Conference is packed with intrigue.  The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending NBA champions, but it was the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets who had the two best records in the conference last season.  The precocious Atlanta Hawks came within two victories of the 2021 NBA Finals.  The 2020 NBA Finalist Miami Heat added six-time NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and are looking to disrupt the top of the conference.  The New York Knicks are resurgent, as evidenced by their performance last season.  The Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards have talented rosters and new head coaches.  The Chicago Bulls are eyeing the playoffs after an ambitious offseason where they added former all-star DeMar DeRozan, former NBA Champion Alex Caruso, and standout point guard Lonzo Ball.  The upstart Charlotte Hornets are led by 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball.  And the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic all feature a top-five pick from the 2021 NBA Draft. 

The Western Conference was full of surprises last season, none bigger than the Phoenix Suns making the NBA Finals in their first playoff appearance in 11 years.  There’s no telling what will happen this season.  The Suns will have to contend with the 2020-21 top overall seed Utah Jazz; the MVP Nikola Jokić-led Denver Nuggets; the new-look 2020 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers; and the 2021 Western Conference finalist LA Clippers.  They’ll also face teams led by dynamic guards in Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies); and potential upstarts stocked with young talent in the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.

The NBA 75 season will tip-off with the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks facing the Brooklyn Nets on 20th October 2021 (5 AM IST).

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