NOT LIVE FROM THE BUBBLE PART 3
Before we jump into the NBA playoffs, I think we should put a bow (no pun intended) on the two weeks of seeding games. Give it up to the NBA for making a safe environment for their players and staff while keeping the integrity of the game at an all time high. The television product was stellar and they should really consider having a bubble-type mid-season format moving forward. Maybe naming it after the late David Stern and bringing the top 10-12 teams in the league. To do this, I would think that the champion of this bubble would have to be incentivized in some way. Not sure, but something they should definitely look into. Also, the play-in game should stay. Creating urgency in any sport is great to watch and Saturday's Grizz-Blazers matchup did not disappoint. Well done, Adam Silver.
Bubble MVP - Damian Lillard
No surprise here. Dame was spectacular for two straight weeks. I'm glad the average fan who doesn't stay up for the 10:30pm EST Blazers games, got to see what this guy brings to the table. I've been saying for years he's the second best point guard in the NBA behind Steph Curry, but I don't even think Steph, with this Blazers roster, could do the shit that Dame was on. He put the Blazers on his back averaging 37 a game all while earning the 8th and final playoff spot in the west. Your prize? Facing off with the best player in the world in round one.
Coach of the Bubble - Monty Williams
When you go 8-0 in two weeks, it's a no-brainer. I thought at the time it was silly for Philly to let him walk. They should've fired Bret Brown (what up Will) after the 2019 season. The best coach on Philly's coaching staff last year was Monty and he took his talents to a young and talented Phoenix team. Will they ride this momentum into next season? I hope so. The west is so damn deep so I think they will always be fighting for a playoff spot. Regardless, really fun team to watch.
Rookie of the Bubble - Michael Porter Jr.
This is hypocritical of me because I was one who was very high on Donovan Mitchell winning ROY in 2018, but Ben Simmons won it after sitting out his first year because of injury. Well, Michael Porter Jr. did the same thing last year and made his debut this season. He has been spectacular since the bubble began and he gives Denver a much-needed wing scoring option. If he can contribute the way he has in the playoffs, the west gets even more interesting. Knicks fans have to be pissed knowing they could've drafted this kid over Kevin Knox.
Most Disappointing Bubble Team - New Orleans Pelicans
When Adam Silver and the NBA announced the play in format, he definitely has Zion and the Pelicans in mind. Boy, did they let us down. They were awful to watch. Lonzo might have been the worst player in the bubble and I say that kindly. Their team defense was atrocious. Anyone could get in the paint on them and get a bucket. The handling of Zion was reality TV-esque. It was so bad, the head coach, Alvin Gentry, got fired shortly after they departed the bubble. What a let down.
Most Surprising Player - Gary Trent Jr.
This was tough for me, but I gotta go Gary Trent Jr. Yes, TJ Warren was great, but he was a rotational player on a playoff team. Gary Trent Jr. I completely forgot about. I don't know if he even gets minutes if Trevor Ariza opts into the bubble. He's been a bright spot for Portland in a time where urgency has been at an all time high. He's playing crunch time minutes for a playoff team!!!
First Team All-Bubble
I want to end this with my 2020 playoff prediction. In the East:
Bucks over Magic in 4
Heat over Pacers in 6
Celtics over Sixers in 6
Raptors over Nets in 6
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
Heat over Bucks in 6
Celtics over Raptors in 7
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
Heat over Celtics in 7
WESTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND
Lakers over Blazers in 6
Rockets over Thunder in 7
Nuggets over Jazz in 5
Clippers over Mavericks in 5
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
Lakers over Rockets in 7
Clippers over Nuggets in 6
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Lakers over Clippers in 7
Lakers over Heat in 6