Thursday is the biggest day of the NBA reboot, as we wrap up the play-in game at the hot Western Conference.
Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns will all participate, and only two teams will face off on Saturday.
We asked our experts to do 5 vs 5 to contest the best moments of the NBA bubble, the biggest takeaways to date and their predictions about the winner in play-in game – the team will face off against the Los Angeles Lakers.
READ MORE: Scenario West match for all four teams
1. What was your favorite moment in the NBA reboot so far?
Find MacMahon: Damian Lillard launched the clutch on Tuesday against the Mavericks from 33 feet, according to official play ̵1; and it doesn’t officially bounce high off the rear rim, or so it seems, before splashing over the net. It was the defining moment of the 61-high performance, from the Trail Blazers star, who rightly asked everyone to put some respect in his name.
Tim Bontemps: Everything Damian Lillard has done, including scoring 51 and 61 in the past two games – after missing an important pair of free-throws in the Clippers defeat – to pull Portland to the brink of the knockout rounds. With such feats, I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to see first-hand the games that have taken place around the world over the past few months.
Dave McMenamin: I’ve also been fortunate to have been in the building for the defining moments for two bubble MVPs: Devin Booker’s one-handed winner against the Clippers turned both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard’s defensive efforts back. so in vain and Lillard’s back shot brought him 61 and helped ensure a win against Dallas.
Other hidden cams: Game Rockets-Bucks. David and Goliath. Small ball versus a team from two feet 7. The game is video game, there are three MVP NBA before. The Rockets shot below 40%, dropped 110 points and took a lead of 29 – and won (the first team in NBA history to do that). In addition to that, Brook Lopez calls that he is defending Russell Westbrook. Just have fun around.
Kevin Pelton: Dallas-Portland’s extended round, feels a lot like a playoff as opposed to other games this week where at least one team doesn’t have much incentive to win. Both teams have something to match, their stars (especially Lillard) shine and the result has dramatic ramifications.
2. What are your thoughts on the last 4 teams that will compete for the play-in West?
Pelton: Even if the Suns, currently 7-0 in bubble, are out of the match, this month is in a great deal of their futures. After many poor years, they found their star at Devin Booker, some quality footballers around him and built a culture of defense and responsibility that was previously lacking.
Bontemps: Phoenix and San Antonio don’t just justify bringing them in here. Both have seen youngsters step up and play big to win matches, including Mikal Bridges for Phoenix and Derrick White for San Antonio. While both teams are unlikely to make it to the play-in match, they should be delighted with what they have received after their stint in Florida regardless of how Thursday goes.
McMenamin: Cameron Payne was a legitimate contributor to Phoenix after being contracted just before the reboot. He averaged 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game for the unbeaten Sun while shooting 50% from 3. A pet is the way of writing. internet chemistry can turn players into cartoon characters and I’m happy to see Payne playing get out of that.
MacMahon: Nothing in the bubble has followed the Grizzlies path, from injuries to key players (Jaren Jackson Jr., Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones) to their growing pain visible to all. . However, even if Memphis was completely out of a spot on Thursday, Grizzlies fans should feel great about this season and the future of the franchise. They have one of the tournament’s most talented young cores, and those have been competitive, even as losses piled up and pressure increased in the bubble.
Snellings: Blazers are a team that doesn’t really fall into this category. With Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins healthy and Carmelo Anthony playing well, they are closer to the team that reached the West final last season instead of one still fighting for the right to enter.
3. Fact or fiction: The game must be here to stay.
Snellings: Reality. There will be more incentive for teams to keep fighting for their place throughout the season and more potential excitement towards the end of the regular season. However, I would like to see revised criteria to require both teams to be above .500 and within three games of each other.
McMenamin: Fiction. While I fully agree that the NBA will recommend it to Orlando as the regular season has been breached by COVID-19, not an uninterrupted 82-game standings enough to secure eight excellent teams. Most in every conference are involved?
Bontemps: Reality. I think it’s a great wrinkle. We all see how thrilling the Nuggets-Timberwolves game a few years ago was. And the past two weeks have improved dramatically with it. I also think that determining the maximum distance between seed 8 and seed 9 – preventing the match in the East – has also worked well.
MacMahon: I am quite warm about this idea. It works here because the schedule has to be shortened due to unprecedented situations. I would encourage the federation to look at ways to eliminate the end-of-season disintegration by playoff teams in the hope of avoiding or misleading matches. (Exhibit A: Utah Jazz in bubble.) What about letting the higher seed pick its foes from the pool?
Pelton: Reality. I don’t know what the best format is, but keeping more teams in the playoffs than looking forward to next season is a positive thing in my book.
4. What was your biggest lesson from Orlando’s seeding and bubble game so far?
MacMahon: Give the NBA a round of applause. The bubble idea was executed to perfection, with no positive COVID-19 test on the Walt Disney World campus. The games are, for the most part, entertaining and competitive. And messages from players, coaches and federations regarding racial injustice have always been delivered.
Bontemps: I was impressed by the sharpness of the gameplay and surprised by how fierce and competitive the whole board was. Even teams that don’t make a lot of profit from playing hard in these matches are largely able to do so. It was made for great competition and the games are really fun, up close and enjoyable (not including the teams that rested for the knockout rounds in recent days).
Pelton: For all the other factors in the game – the referee is too fair, the filming scene, rust – the attack results we’ve seen so far show me that there may not be any way around. to stop criminals who create as much floor distance with their shot. (Though if one does exist, the Toronto Raptors seem closest to finding it.)
Snellings: It is clear that teams are less interested in picking seeds than usual, which is smart given the lack of home advantage in the post-season period. Teams are giving their star players a break even in cases where the seed can still participate.
McMenamin: There is a financial incentive to include a seed round, but it will also benefit the basketball we see next season. It has allowed coaches to see what they have to work on and give opportunities to youngsters like Michael Porter Jr and Talen Horton-Tucker, who will likely pull a lot shorter if the NBA goes straight to the ring. knockout.
5. What are you most closely following or looking forward to as we progress to the knockout rounds?
Snellings: Will the Blazers be able to secure their last playoff spot and a game against the Lakers? Lillard is playing at Megatron levels, his team is experienced and the Lakers cannot rely on home advantage. It is conceived as a scrutiny scenario, a classic capable first-round match.
Bontemps: My question is whether LeBron James and the Lakers will be able to get past the ring in the West – likely Portland, Houston and the Clippers. Will the supporting cast look better in the knockout rounds? How will Anthony Davis deal with the biggest pressure of his NBA career? The Lakers’ shaky performance in Florida ensured they would continue to appeal.
Pelton: I won’t say me worry on how quickly James’ played in seed matches with little stakes, but how quickly he gets back to the levels we’ve seen during the season – especially near downtime – is what I will watch most closely next time.
MacMahon: Is LeBron perfectly healthy? It may seem silly to mark his 29-point, 12-assists mark in the win over the Nuggets, but James only managed to recover once in a single game which made him raise an eyebrow. Regardless of how the Lakers look in seed matches, I consider them favorites if James is fit. But what if he doesn’t? Well, Lillard’s Trail Blazers will be a truly treacherous first match.
McMenamin: How long will it take for the Lakers and the Bucks to get it together? Or will they, even? Back in March, they appeared to be strong candidates to meet in the Finals. Would you say that now? The Clippers and Rockets both look like formidable challenges for the Lakers to overcome – man, even getting knocked out of the first round doesn’t seem automatic for LA – and Toronto and Boston both look good more bucks so far.
Prediction: Which team will play and who will win?
MacMahon: Portland (seed 8) and Phoenix (seed 9). With all due respect to Phoenix’s phenomenal Cinderella story – and I agree with Suns star Devin Booker that this success could pay dividends for the franchise in the near future – no problem I bet with Blazers to win the final playoff ticket of the seed West. Lillard is too hard to believe the Blazers will lose, at least until they face the Lakers in the knockout rounds.
Snellings: Portland (8) versus Memphis (9), with the Trail Blazers win. The Suns have a tough final game and need help getting in, while Memphis just having to beat a team of Bucks that have nothing to play with has begun to take a break for the first time, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to sit out due to suspend. Meanwhile, Trail Blazers is currently just as good.
McMenamin: Portland (8) vs Phoenix (9). The Suns had their winning streak of nine before the Blazers beat them in their second play-in match.
Pelton: Portland (8) versus Phoenix (9), with the Blazers ending the Suns’ all-win streak.
Bontemps: Portland (8) vs. Memphis (9), with Portland winning 15 on Saturday to head to the Lakers.
READ MORE: NBA fixtures – four big games on Thursday