NBA Playoffs looking at electrifying finish
Nicholas Sarysz, Section Editor
The energy surrounding the National Basketball Association (NBA) Playoffs are far different this year. As hometown fans sit on their couches, rather than the seats of their respective arenas, their favorite players are living in a “bubble” in Disney World at Orlando, Fla. This is the first time the NBA playoffs have been played behind closed doors, and players have just recently been allowed to have their family join them, permitted they test negative for the virus and follow all of the bubble rules. To date, the bubble society has worked exactly as planned for the NBA, as there have not been any positive cases in the league.
Without fans in the seats, the players faced a new challenge in the already difficult playoff race. The most notable race was for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Portland Trail Blazers won five of their eight final games to advance to the play-in, where they beat the Memphis Grizzlies to secure their spot in the playoffs. Led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, the Blazers beat the number one seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first game in a best of seven series. However, their success was short lived.
The Blazers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs along with the Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Dallas Mavericks. On the Eastern Conference side, the Orlando Magic, Indianapolis Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and the Brooklyn Nets were all knocked out in the first round.
This past weekend, the Boston Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors, advancing them to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will face off against the Miami Heat who just knocked off the number one seeded Milwaukee Bucks 4-1. However, the real battle remained in the Western Conference, where the Denver Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers to tie the series up at three a piece. In the last round of the Playoffs, the Nuggets were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Utah Jazz to advance.
According to the betting website Odds Shark, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers have the same betting odds to win the championship, coming in at +180. The Miami Heat have the best odds in the Eastern Conference, with +375. The Lakers come in as the favorite with their two star players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and the Clippers come with a dynamic duo of their own with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Denver Nuggets had a chance to derail the Clippers’ finals hopes on Tuesday, Sept. 15, when they played their deciding game seven, and were victorious. The Lakers now have their hands full, and we are bound to see some electrifying conference finals action.
Although there may not be any in-person attendance this year, the NBA playoffs are as exciting as ever, and the bubble atmosphere that the players are living under allows for full focus during these last few weeks of the season.