These are the results from the first SB Nation NBA reacts survey of the season, which focused primarily on national topics. To sign up, click on the link below.
Most NBA fans feel about the same or better about their team as the preseason comes to an end
Based on national results, 47 percent feel better about their team now that the preseason is nearly over, and 44 percent feel about the same. Ten percent feel worse.
For the Wizards, I’m feeling worse about the season, and it doesn’t have to do with the fact that they are 0-3 in the preseason and what I said in SB Nation’s national NBA preview where I took a more optimistic tone (I wrote those responses before the preseason games).
It has to do with the V word, and it doesn’t stand for Virginia.
Yup. You’ve guessed it. Vaccines. Coronavirus vaccines.
Yes, the national media narrative is centered around Kyrie Irving. He is effectively kicked out of the Brooklyn Nets for not being vaccinated. And his rambling rationale on why he remains unvaccinated is also just as puzzling. However, the Nets will still be championship contenders without him, since they were the title favorites in preseason polls and surveys.
The Washington Wizards, like the Nets, are also not a fully vaccinated team. Up to two players, including franchise star Bradley Beal are NOT vaccinated, as of Media Day. But unlike Irving, Beal is able to be a full-time player, because the D.C. government has not put a vaccine mandate on indoor sporting events beyond the K-12 school level. Also, Beal and other unvaccinated NBA players can still play in New York City where the Nets play, and other cities with indoor sporting vaccine mandates due to legal loopholes that don’t affect road team players.
In the short run, or the next week or even month, Beal can still play. I said it before and he will be thrust into the national spotlight for his status because he CAN play ... for now. I’d imagine he will face hostile crowds due to his status in cities like New York, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles. But he may also face friendlier crowds on the road when in other markets like Oklahoma City or Salt Lake City where .... let’s face it. There will likely be more sympathy around someone like Beal than in a market like the cities that placed the mandates.
As this season goes on, however, the focus on Irving’s status will go away since he can’t play games. It will go to Beal and the Wizards as they start playing games in New York City (like tomorrow) and Toronto, which is next week. It’s going to create a very strange, if not outright uncomfortable situation for Washington. Maybe not for the players themselves on the team and the coaches. But the perception the public, even locally won’t be positive between the different approaches the Wizards and Nets have taken in similar situations.
In addition to a physical injury to Beal’s physical mobility, the Wizards’ season is one D.C. indoor sports vaccine mandate or an NBA mandate away from being over, assuming he is set on not getting vaccinated for the foreseeable future. Unlike the Nets, the Wizards’ postseason hopes rest on whether Beal is available. For now, a postseason berth is certainly possible because of the local rules, but it won’t be easy either way.
Fans slightly favor the Phoenix Mercury to win the 2021 WNBA Finals
This survey came out last Tuesday, with one game of the WNBA’s championship series already in the books. And it looks stupid on my end to post this after Game 2 last night, especially if one team is leading 2 games to none in a best of five series. But currently, the series is tied 1-1. And also, for the sake of giving the results of a question no matter what, 52 percent of the national respondents believe that the Mercury will win the series.
If the Mercury win the Finals, this will be their fourth championship in franchise history and first since 2014. Their star duo of Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner have remained in top form over the years and I’m also favoring Phoenix to win it all.
They are playing the Chicago Sky, who are in their second Finals appearance in franchise history, when they first made it since 2014. Back then, the Sky, led by second year forward Elena Delle Donne as well as veterans Sylvia Fowles and Epiphanny Prince were swept 3-0. But this time, Chicago is led by a veteran trio of stars in Candace Parker, Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley. Vandersloot and Quigley were also on the 2014 team but weren’t as polished as they are today.
For more on the WNBA Finals, check out Swish Appeal, SB Nation’s women’s basketball blog.
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