From both the entertainment and health side, the NBA’s bubble experiment – in terms of the league’s hopes – has been successful so far. Some games have been extremely enticing (in large part due to eight bad teams being disqualified) and there was no positive coronavirus test among the players. The campus is on hold, even with some entering and exiting. With basketball taking place at all hours of the day, there’s a lot to analyze from what happened in Orlando, especially with the playoffs starting next week. Now is a good time to jump around the tournament and watch some bubble storylines, starting with the Blazers’ sweaty win over the Nets on Thursday.
The pressure can still be felt
If seed matches still count as regular season, then Thursday̵7;s horror movie between Portland and Brooklyn – a 134-133 win for the PDX – is one of the most compelling regular season contests in many years. The Blazers entered the night in a win or lose situation with the fuming Damian Lillard, facing a team of Nets with nothing to play with. An explosion in Portland seemed to be almost everything, but sure. But Brooklyn and Caris LeVert gave Blazers everything they could handle and more, along with Lillard and co. barely survived to make it into the play-in stage as seed eight.
My biggest takeaway from Thursday’s match was how intense the final minutes were. One fear perhaps for everyone in the NBA is how the bubble atmosphere can reduce the intensity of the post-season. Thursday is essentially a Game 7 for Portland, and at no point in the frenetic end, the lack of crowds makes the ending feel less nervous. Would the knockout rounds be the same if there was no home match? Certainly not. Will there be some sort of effect on players? Almost certainly, and it can cut in either direction. But as a television product, Adam Silver had to be extremely pleased with Thursday’s feel of the video game. The best compliment I can give is that it feels normal. When LeVert offered a potential game winner, the stakes were the same as they would be in an arena with 20,000 fans. I am sure that at some point during the post-season period the lack of noise will become apparent. But in the first game against either team was really pressured, the surroundings didn’t lose the excitement.
Joel Embiid couldn’t post enough against the Celtics
Ben Simmons is likely to miss at least the first (if not all) round of the knockout round after undergoing surgery to remove his loose body from his left knee. The Sixers have had three wild seasons, entered the knockout stages in 2018, reworked the roster and lost in the walkoffs in 2019, then reworked the roster again before the sublimation campaign in 2020. I’m really starting to wonder if this team will be cursed, and while people will definitely go down this path, I don’t know how post-post can serve as a referendum. comment on the Simmons-Joel Embiid partnership if one of them doesn’t. t play.
With Simmons absent, the spotlight will clearly be on Embiid, and he is in an oddly uniquely position to have a huge streak against Boston. I won’t pick the Sixers to win, but this match could be over. The Celtics are superb, and can even be underestimated in championship races. But if they have one weak spot, it’s central, and in this series, Embiid won’t have a reason to be around. He should just be active out of the box against Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter, and get a chance for him to post huge numbers (well, no pun intended).
If Embiid said that part of the reason he flew to the three-point line was to give Simmons space, that reason was gone. Embiid averaged 3.4 times per game this season – that’s to be honest against Boston. All of those photos will look post-production instead. Unsurprisingly, Embiid is one of the most effective pillars in the NBA, averaging 9.8 tackles per game and 53.1% of those plays – fourth of those Player try to hit at least two goals per night from vertical. I don’t understand why he shouldn’t come on at least 15 times a game if not more than a game against Boston.
By the way, Al Horford could be backing into the starting lineup, and that wasn’t exactly a problem for Embiid. In 174 minutes this season, the Embiid-Horford duo played without Simmons, they scored a respectable 3.1 net, with more slip so they mainly played defensively instead of attacking. Philly’s ADCs will have to get ready when the doubles come to Embiid, but if he is living in the penalty area, the Sixers will be able to make good shots one way or another.
Could James Harden survive without Russell Westbrook?
The Rockets are still a really good team as James Harden plays without Russell Westbrook. In fact, some statistics say they are even better. In 1022 minutes of play without Russ this season, the Harden-led roster netted an 8.4 net score, an improvement from the 5.6 points the duo posted together. Houston’s offensive abilities really improved during the Harden’s solo. And it makes sense if you think about replacing Russ with a shooter and giving Harden more space to operate.
Houston can certainly last a long time without Russ, and bringing back Eric Gordon will help. But Thunder is a very solid team when playing with an aggressive Chris Paul. They won’t go out easily. The series may greatly reduce Harden’s endurance. Mike D’Antoni plays comically tight twirls in the playoffs – like trying on your jeans a month after a pandemic gets caught. Can Harden handle that burden? Would the bubble structure without travel but daily play would help or hurt him? Will his off months give him strength? It’s a story that has followed Harden over the years – that his style of football puts him off in the post-season period. It will almost certainly bounce back in the first round.
How Tyler Herro can change the heat
Duncan Robinson has received a lot of attention for his stormy promotion, but one of the other Heat’s other surprises this season is rookie Tyler Herro, who has particularly shined in matches. Seeds. Thirteenth overall selection in draft last year had an average rate of 17-5-4 in bubbles while increasing almost 38% from three.
It will be interesting to see if Herro’s appearance causes Erik Spoelstra to tinker more on his rotation. Jae Crowder has taken Meyers Leonard’s place in the starting lineup and more changes could make sense. Goran Dragic played well during the reboot, while Kendrick Nunn struggled. Moving a Dragic into the starting group of five will give that team a true defense point, but it will leave the second unit without a handler. That’s where Herro could have potential. He has shown some playing skills in Orlando, and theoretically he could anchor teams with Nunn as his mate.
However, that duo has a true zero rating, meaning it’s far from a perfect match. Although Spo is always looking for a way to make a profit, he often loses in the playoffs before he has trouble with spins. Herro may not be a point guard any time soon (or ever.) But his improvement as one-ball-man could have a significant impact on Miami’s squad decisions in the long term. . The more Herro representatives kick, the more flexible Heat’s squad becomes.
Nuggets will treat health like?
Gary Harris and WIll Barton haven’t played a regular season game in over five months, and Nuggets manager Mike Malone will now have to find a way to re-integrate them into the squad in the knockout rounds. Harris and Barton have missed all of the seed matches due to injury, though Barton at least saw some action in a July scenario. Malone will be in a tough position as the two veterans are both fit, because while they have been the tools for Denver’s success over the past few seasons, the Nuggets have almost too many roster combinations they can outdo. ahead of Jazz in Round 1.
Michael Porter Jr has begun to replace Barton, a change that will likely fit even in his prime. The MPJ still has his rookie moments, but Malone has more easily forgiven his mistakes with all the injuries, and now Porter’s scoring has become too precious to have. bench. Would Malone be willing to try a roster of Harris, Barton, Porter, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic? That group could certainly score, but it left out valuable defenders like Paul Millsap and Jerami Grant. It might not be a problem in the first half, but if Nugs moves forward, finding the right flank combination will be a fragile balance for Malone.
Harris has done a fine job although his shots falter at times. Meanwhile Grant, Porter, Millsap, and Barton all have extremely different skill sets and will all take a few minutes between the two forward positions. Somewhere in there exists a group of rights. But I worry the Nuggets won’t have enough time to figure out who the group is.