WITH the way 2020 has been churning out one aberration after another, I would not be surprised if none of the pre-Covid favorites win the coveted NBA crown.
The 8th-seed Orlando Magic in the West shocked the number one team in the pre-season—the Milwaukee Bucks, in the first game and ditto with their counterpart 8th seed team in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers who rolled over the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the presumptive favorites.
As of this writing, the Lakers and Bucks were able to even up the series, but because this is 2020, anything and I mean anything is possible at this point.
PICKS. That being said, before the playoffs shoot ahead of us, let me put up my picks.
Eastern Conference finals- Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Right now, the Boston Celtics are up 3-0 over the Philadelphia 76ers. Jayson Tatum is a budding superstar and has stepped up to the plate. This team is young, deep and talented. More importantly, they are hungry.
Last year, they failed to make the conference finals, and they have suffered the departure of one marquee player/star only to be replaced by another.
But this time out, Kemba Walker seems to be a better fit than the mercurial Kyrie Irving and this team is ably supported by Jalen Brown, Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward. The latter might leave the bubble soon for the birth of his child, but if he can come back in time for the conference finals, I expect the Celts to put up a big challenge and even go all the way.
Western Conference Finals: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
I expect a bumpy road for both teams towards the Conference finals. Right now they are fighting for their lives in the first round, for different reasons.
The unavailability of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley has exposed the Lakers to be a top-heavy team who can’t shoot threes and can’t defend three-point shots.
Anthony Davis, the team’s top scorer, tends to disappear in the fourth quarter and Lebron James seems to have lost a step or two in the bubble. In yesterday’s win over the Blazers, he managed only 10 points and 7 assists.
The Clippers’ problem is their lack of cohesion. They have been missing out on having their best line-up available all season long, owing to injures and load management.
So the Clips are only now beginning to acclimatize with each other in the playoffs, and this has resulted in a lot of isolation plays. Perhaps they are talented enough and deep enough to pull this through, and so Coach Doc Rivers has his work cut out for him.
VERBATIM. “But in the same sense, I’ve played with Dwayne Wade, he could do some things AD is not capable of doing.”—Lebron James (www.heatnation.com)
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Jhoren Macion and Asst. Prosecutor Hazel E. Caraballe who recently celebrated their birthdays. Cheers!