The NBA playoff run has been thrilling for fans to watch. Currently, there have been several game sevens, buzzer beaters, upsets and overtime periods.
The Bubble, located in Orlando, Fla., has provided an inconceivable atmosphere.
In the East, the Celtics defeated the Raptors in their series, 4-3. Boston punched their ticket to the conference finals by pushing tempo and keeping their intensity level up for the entirety of the game.
Throughout the playoffs, the Celtics have jumped out to early leads. To maintain their level of success against Miami, they will need to carry that first-half tenacity into the second half.
Raptors, the reigning champions, felt the loss of finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in the home stretch of the series. Their lack of a true superstar and closer has proved difficult for them to win in close-scoring contests.
The Miami Heat upset the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in a quick five-game series. The Heat may have taken the series 4-1 over Milwaukee, but the Bucks did not make it easy. Each game was close in score, and game four went into O.T. with the Bucks coming out on top.
A major part of the Bucks’ lone win can be attributed to small forward Khris Middleton’s performance, which was just shy of a triple-double with 36 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was assumed to carry this team through the series, was slowed down by an injured ankle.
Shooting guard Jimmy Butler has been a vital leader for the Heat, as his maturity sets the pace for their offense.
In the West, the Nuggets squared up against the Clippers. The Clippers lead the series 3-2, and they started off the series with a huge blowout.
Leonard and Paul George have been playing a major role in the Clippers’ success, as they were among the high-scorers in the wins.
In most recent games, the Clippers have found themselves having to scrap and fight back against their foes.
In a press release by NBA.com, Leonard said, ‘’We’ve got a lot of work to do still. We’re still fighting.’’
The Clippers are hungry for a win, and their style of play reflects that. If the Clippers clinch the series, it will be the franchise’s first time making it into the Western Conference finals in team history.
The series between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers was assumed to be close, with both teams bolstering strong rosters; however, the Lakers dominated the series 4-1.
The small-ball Rockets and the stacked line-up of the Lakers added a competitive aspect to the series.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook challenged the Lakers’ defense with their finesse, but the Rockets lagged behind, as they lack the depth that the Lakers have.
Los Angeles has LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma as reliable performers. Recently, Rajon Rondo has been found in his “playoff ” form, which has added versatility to the Lakers’ style of play.
COVID-19 has taken away a key element of the playoffs – the fans. It has not only made it hard for fans to cheer on their teams, but it is also hard on the players. The season started with fans in the bleachers and now ends with virtual fans.
A major part of the game is the hype of the crowd. The players have had to find a way to keep the game going while there are no spectators to cheer them on. Leaders like James, Butler and Harden have kept their teammates going.
The spectator-less playoff series has not seemed to affect the level of play and tenacity that the players have demonstrated on the court. If anything, the NBA Bubble has seemed to increase the intensity of the games which makes any basketball fan happy.
NBA Conference finals are anticipated to start on Sept. 15. The Celtics will meet the Heat, as they did in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Out West, the Lakers are still awaiting the winner of the series between the Nuggets and the Clippers.