Since the end of July, 22 NBA teams have been going head-to-head in the bubble, or quarantine venue, of Orlando, Florida. The goals? Two.
First, finish the regular season that was interrupted by COVID. As of last Saturday, that goal was met, thanks to a dramatic, high-scoring win by the Portland Trail Blazers over the Memphis Grizzlies. That victory meant that Portland gets to be a part of the second goal.
The 2020 NBA Playoffs!
Last year, the NBA Playoffs turned Canada into one big street party, thanks to the exceptional run by the Toronto Raptors. Though we understand that that isn't happening again (it's tough to social distance in Jurassic Park), it doesn't mean that people in these parts aren't excited all over again.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles has not one but two of the best teams in the league, and plenty of other cities are hoping that their heroes 'pull a Raptors' and use teamwork to finally breakthrough with a title.
What exciting stuff should you be looking for? Check out our OWLconnected 2020 NBA Playoffs preview!
Are these Bucks top dollar in the league?
The Milwaukee Bucks are named after a male deer. But all season long, they've been the other meaning of 'bucks'. As in money.
Best record in the league. Best player in the league (Giannis Antetokounmpo). Most points scored. Very nearly the best defence. Even the other top teams found it hard to break through the Bucks' giant wall of Giannis and the Lopez brothers (Brook and Robin).
But the playoffs are always the tricky part. Last season, the Bucks were in the driver's seat against Toronto until Kawhi and the team defence shut down Giannis. This year though, Milwaukee is even better. Will these Bucks back it up? Or once again back down? Their quest starts Tuesday against the Orlando Magic.
Which Los Angeles team is the best?
For about, well, forever really, the Lakers have been the city's basketball powerhouse. So many championships. And then there's the Clippers.
Despite being in the league since 1970 (first as the Buffalo Braves, then as the San Diego Clippers until 1984), this franchise has done very little. They've never been to an NBA final, never been to a conference final, and have won just five playoffs rounds in 49 years. Yikes.
But now, the Clippers have been reborn. Thanks to Kawhi Leonard choosing the team after his one dream year in Toronto, the Clips have become a true powerhouse, rounded out by Paul George and a cast of sturdy, experienced pros. And while the Lakers and Clippers are playing other teams in the first round, everyone expects them to be the last two teams standing in the West.
So. King James' Lakers? Or Kawhi's Clippers? Who have you got to march on to the final?
Can the Raptors really do it again?
Yes. Despite losing Kawhi and Danny Green, the defending champs finished 2020 with the second best record in the whole league. Just like last year (which ended pretty well for them). They've done it by doubling down on who they are: A complete team who play as a unit.
Even though Pascal Siakam became a legit all-star this season, the Raps still don't have the kinds of superstars that you'll find in Milwaukee, LA, Philly, Houston, and Boston. But Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and company are battle-tested and full of confidence. They know what winning looks like and will be the ultimate test of any team.
Fortunately for them, one team that doesn't have its stars is its first round playoff opponent, the Brooklyn Nets. Both Kevin Durant and Kylie Irving won't play for the Nets, meaning that the Raps are heavily favoured in this matchup. But then again, can you take anything for granted come playoff time?
Nope! The 2020 NBA Playoffs start at 1:30 pm EST when the Utah Jazz play the Denver Nuggets. The Raps and Nets are up next at 4:00 pm EST.