To anyone reading this in the future, we’re living in 2020. The year of empty stadiums and arenas due to the coronavirus. There has been minimal good news on a national scale. But now, sports are slowly returning to the screen.
Last weekend, I watched week one of the NFL season and college football season. I also watched the second round of the NBA playoffs. COVID-19 might suck, but I’m not complaining about the sports schedule that we’ve been given because of it.
Basketball has been hit harder than most sports. There was no March Madness for college basketball, which meant no upsets and no shot at having a perfect bracket; the NBA was forced into a hiatus that stretched from March to July.
When the NBA announced their plan to continue the rest of the season in a bubble-type setting at Disneyworld, I had my doubts. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. The bubble has been a bucket filled paradise.
Before the postseason restarted, the league was competing at a high level. The teams that were in the bubble had eight games to either improve their seeding or fight for a playoff spot. It certainly was no longer March, but Madness ensued.
As I looked over the schedule and realized the Phoenix Suns had been invited to compete for a playoff spot, I thought there was no way they had no shot at making the playoffs. Then, they finished the seeding games with a record of 8-0.
However, the Suns did not qualify because of their slow start during the season before the hiatus. Regardless, it was a valiant effort.
As if the Suns going 8-0 wasn’t enough of a jaw-dropper, there were big games from guys like Indiana Pacer, T.J. Warren, and Houston Rocket, Austin Rivers, who both erupted for 50+ point performances and sent basketball fans into a frenzy. The memes of Warren called him the ‘Bubble G.O.A.T.’
While Devin Booker was busy trying to prove that he could win with the Suns and Warren was making a name for himself, Weber State legend Damian Lillard continued to show the league that he is simply just that dude.
As the Portland Trailblazers were fighting for the final spot in the playoffs, Lillard finished the season with 51, 61, 42 and 31, and his team won every game, securing a date with the top seed in the west, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since the return of the NBA, we’ve been spoiled because all of this happened, and the playoffs were only the tip of the iceberg. Postseason has officially arrived, and it has been a special one.
During the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Denver Nuggets stunned fans when they eliminated the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz are not seen as a threat to win the NBA championship, but they held a 3-1 lead and looked dominant in the process. Jamal Murray then erupted for multiple 50-point games and sent the Jazz back to Salt Lake City.
The Nuggets have another chance to beat out another dominant team, The Los Angeles Clippers. After the Clippers blew double-digit leads in back-to-back games, Denver has a shot to once again shock the world in Game 7.
Meanwhile, the Lakers seemed like they would struggle once the playoffs began; however, they have thrived. The Lakers got rid of both the Portland Trailblazers and the Houston Rockets in five games each and are now sitting pretty as they await the winner of the Clippers-Nuggets game on Sept. 15.
On the east coast, the No. 1 seed, the Milwaukee Bucks and likely MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, ran into the Miami Heat during the second round and the Heat made quick work of them in probably the most surprising outcome of the playoffs so far.
Also in the second round, the Boston Celtics and defending champion Toronto Raptors gave each other their all, but the defense and grit from the young Celtics helped them advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will clash with the Heat to determine who goes to the NBA finals.
We could be looking at the greatest postseason that the league has ever seen, and after the year we’ve had, I think we deserve it. Basketball is a game, but it can sometimes be art. And for now, the bubble has truly been a masterpiece.