The NBA playoffs kicked off this weekend, with a number of entertaining basketball games. None were more entertaining than the Brooklyn Nets playing in Boston to take on the Celtics. The game ended in the first ever buzzer beater at home in Celtics playoff history. Let that sink in for a minute.
As that was happening, the NBA revealed the finalists for six regular season awards for the 2021-2022 season. The awards include NBA MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA's Most Improved Player, NBA Coach of the Year and the Sixth Man of the Year.
The NBA has announced its finalists for six awards — Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, Coach of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year — and also said they will be handed out during the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/ipBGCQFKUC
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) April 17, 2022
To no one's surprise, the NBA MVP Award is coming down to Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic with the Denver Nuggets. Currently, Jokic is the prohibited favorite in Las Vegas. But an argument can be made for all three.
The NBA Rookie of the Year Award will come down to Detroit Pistons' Cade Cunningham, Toronto Raptors' Scottie Barnes and Cleveland Cavaliers' Evan Mobley. Barnes was the only one to help his team reach the postseason. Sadly, he suffered an ankle injury in Game One Saturday and his status for the rest of the series is in doubt.
The NBA's Most Improved Player Award will be between Grizzlies' Ja Morant, Cavaliers' Darius Garland and San Antonio Spurs' Dejounte Murray. All three players took massive leaps this season, but Morant is considered the only true superstar among the group.
The Sixth Man of the Year is a little more cut and dry. Miami Heat's Tyler Herro is a massive favorite to take home the award. He has been integral in the success of the Miami Heat finishing atop the Eastern Conference this year. He is joined by Cavaliers' Kevin Love and Phoenix Suns' Cam Johnson.
NBA Defensive Player of the Year is very interesting this season. There are three different positions nominated. Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert once again is up for the award. He is joined by Suns forward Mikal Bridges and Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart. Smart placed his name himself on the map after reminding the public that centers cannot guard every position like he can. He is a dark horse pick to win the award.
Finally, there is the NBA Coach of the Year. This is always highly debatable. This year the award comes down to Suns coach Monty Williams, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins and Heat coach Eric Spoelstra. Spoelstra and Williams led their teams to the respective top seed in each conference. Meanwhile, Jenkins coached the Memphis Grizzlies to the second best record in the NBA this year, arriving light years ahead of schedule.
Outside of Sixth Man of the Year, the other awards are up in the air and it is anyone's guess who will take home the hardware.