A Poll From The Spectator Sports Department: The Bubble Bracket
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After a five-month layoff, the NBA Playoffs are in full swing—pandemic style. The bubble in Orlando has created an ideal atmosphere for sports during the pandemic. Thus far, the bubble has provided some historic performances, signature moments, and breakout stars. As the playoffs began, The Spectator Sports Department took on the tall task of trying to fill out the perfect playoff bracket. Here are the results:
Lakers over Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers are the very definition of a fun team. They always try to push the pace and, being an eight seed, are playing with nothing to lose. With elite scorers Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers are definitely no pushovers. Carmelo Anthony has revitalized his career and has complemented the star backcourt for the Blazer beautifully. That being said, the talent gap will be too much to handle for Portland. The Lakers have two top 10 players, and LeBron James has the most playoff experience of any active player. If James loses in the first round with Anthony Davis, the GOAT debate is settled.
Rockets over Thunder
Steven Adams is a beast of a man at seven feet and is the strongest player in the NBA, according to his former coach Scott Brooks and teammate Jerami Grant. With the Rockets starting 6’ 5” PJ Tucker at center, Adams has the capability to take over games. However, Adams’s post up game is still raw, and he is better suited in the pick and roll game which is easily defended by the Rockets overall team speed. Adams will make his mark in the rebounding column. But, still, the Rockets will take a record number of threes. The Rockets’ threes will outsource the Thunder’s twos.
Nuggets over Jazz
The Nuggets are unexpectedly down 2-1 after three games. Nikola Jokic has looked turnover prone, and the Nuggets have no answer for Donavan Mitchell on the defense. Mitchell is averaging 35.7 points thus far in the playoffs. This includes a 57-point scoring outburst. The Nuggets definitely have the talent to win the series, but Will Barton is a huge loss for the Nuggets on both sides of the ball. He shoots the ball well from three and was supposed to be the man guarding Mitchell. Due to his knee injury, Barton left the bubble, decreasing the Nuggets’ chances of winning the series. Nonetheless, the Joker has the capabilities to carry the Nuggets into round two.
Clippers over Mavs
Luka Doncic set the record for most points through any player’s first two playoff games. Nevertheless, the depth of the Clippers, coupled with the dynamic duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, will be too much to handle defensively for the Mavs. If the Clips want to make a deep run, however, George must get out of his shooting slump.
Bucks over Magic
The Magic shockingly took game one despite being blown out by an average of 17 points during their regular season matchups against the Bucks. Since the first game, however, the order of power has been restored as the Bucks have won three straight. The Magic have had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he will lead them into the Eastern Conference Semifinals. If Milwaukee wants to get a shot at a championship, they will need Khris Middleton to return to his regular season form. Bucks in five.
Heat over Pacers
Jimmy Butler has revitalized the entire Miami Heat franchise. They look hungry, they play hard, and they can shoot. Duncan Robinson, a former division III player, has added another dimension to the Heat’s offense. The Pacers are good defensively, but even they can’t handle the dynamic duo of Butler and athletic big man Bam Adebayo. The Heat will win comfortably, our first series upset.
Celtics over Sixers
It’s time for another rebuild in Philly. The chemistry between Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid is virtually nonexistent. They have veterans who are overpaid, and the money they are spending does not fit the current trajectory of the team. The Celtics have too many scorers and too much depth to be stopped by the Sixers. Celtics in four.
Raptors over Nets
The Nets roster is full of newly signed free agents who were thrust into the playoffs due to the opt out of several of the Nets key players. Next year, the Nets are title contenders with stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in action. For now, though, Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen will not be able to lift this team over the defending champs. Raps in four.
Lakers over Rockets
The Rockets have no answer defensively for the power duo of Davis and James. In addition, James Harden has consistently fallen short in the playoffs and is not in peak shooting form. Russell Westbrook is coming off a quad strain and will not be 100 percent. The unusual roster construction of the Rockets with no center will finally catch up to them. The Lakers advance to the conference finals.
Clippers over Nuggets
The Nuggets are having a massive struggle to make it out of round one. But no matter who takes the Nuggets-Jazz series, neither team has any answer for Leonard or George on defense. The Clippers depth will play a big role in controlling the series. The LA teams meet for a showdown in the conference finals.
Bucks over Heat
This series might be more interesting than many people originally thought. Butler is actually a competitive matchup for Antetokounmpo (though it’s debatable whether there’s anyone in the NBA that is), but the combination of Middleton and Antetokounmpo will be too much to handle. The Heat won’t go down without making things interesting. But, the Heat do not have the one-on-one scorers to challenge the Bucks defense. The Heat are very gritty and will make the series competitive. Bucks advance to the conference finals for the second consecutive year.
Raptors over Celtics
The Celtics might be better on paper, but no one plays better as a unit than the Raptors. Pascal Siakam will cement his star status in this series, and the Celtics interior defense will be exposed by the Raptors’ strong group of guards led by Kyle Lowry. A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals comes to fruition this year as well.
Clippers over Lakers
This is the series that NBA fans have dreamed of. The two most talented teams in the same city are going head-to-head for a spot in the finals. It’s a shame this series can’t be played in the Staples Center, the home of both the Lakers and Clippers. The Clippers do possess the defensive prowess to handle James and Davis. The Clippers have both George and Leonard to put on James, and backup big man Montrezl Harrell will play a big role in stopping Davis. The Lakers bench needs some reconstructing and the shooters surrounding Lebron and AD have struggled. Clippers advance to the Finals.
Raptors over Bucks
The Bucks just don’t have the scorers around Antetokounmpo to overtake the Bucks. The Raptors’ championship mentality will shine through, and the trio of Fred Vanvleet, Lowry and Siakam will put the Raptors over the edge. Coach of the year Nick Nurse will devise a solid game plan for Antetokounmpo. The Raptors know how to win in the playoffs. Raptors advance to the finals for the second consecutive year.
Clippers over Raptors
Last offseason, Leonard spurned the Raptors organization to team up with Geroge in LA. Now, the Raptors will have the chance to get some revenge on their former teammate. However, Leonard will be up for the challenge. He has already won two championships while also winning two final MVP awards with different teams. The talent gap between the Clippers and Raptors will be too much for the Raptors to handle. The Clippers get their first championship in franchise history, and Leonard gets his third finals MVP.