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The Turf Weighs In: The NBA Season Restart

The NBA Bubble Boys are set to tip off and restart the 2019-20 season. Which teams are on their way to the Finals, and who is just glad to be there?

NBA Logo by Michael Tipton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Turf Weighs In: The NBA Season Restart

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

The NBA is back online, and that’s fantastic news. As baseball trips over itself to prove it’s a competent league, the NBA has absolutely crushed their plan to restart the 2019-20 season during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Bubble works. That’s science… right?

So as the season tips off for the second time, let’s check in with our writers, and talk about the upcoming season restart.

Justin Colombo

I covered a lot of my thoughts already, so here’s a summary.

The Kings are not meant to be slept on, so if you’re looking for an underdog to root for, pledge your allegiance to the crown.

Conversely, another team not to be slept on are the Miami Heat, who are primed and ready to steamroll the Eastern Conference.

Back to the West, it’s all about Los Angeles. The Clippers and the Lakers, sitting in the top two spots, should find themselves staying there all the way to the Western Conference Finals. However, there are plenty of squads who could torch those odds down the road.

I don’t like the Sixers. Sitting in the 6th seed is weird, but moving down isn’t good, and moving up isn’t better… So they’ll look to have a tough road to the Eastern Conference Finals.

At the end of the day, I’m going the boring route and taking a Bucks/Lakers Finals, with the Lakers taking it in 7. Such a weak pick, but it’s the one I think we’re gonna see.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm

I have a fear the most interesting aspect of the entire NBA restart will continue to be the “snitch line.” This season seemed destined to have an all LA Western Conference Finals and the fact we won’t get that in Staples is always going to sting. Hopefully the Clippers don’t implode like they seem primed too, or you know, aren’t too busy going to strip clubs for “family emergencies.”

It’s gonna be a Lakers/Bucks Final. And honestly, those are the best two teams and that’s what should happen. Bron in 6.

Also… this:

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LeBron’s got a new nickname for AD 🥽

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Matt DaSilva

I sort of don’t believe it’s happening and am still paranoid that something is gonna stop it from happening, but oh damn am I excited that basketball is back. I’ve watched a few scrimmages, and while the hoops have been pretty subpar (aside from Bol Bol), I’m into the presentation. More camera angles, big fun visual backgrounds, and the opportunity for players to really use the entirety of the sidelines.

I’m very much trying to temper my expectations until the playoffs. I think injury concerns after this much downtime are super valid, and I think we’re gonna see a lot of teams sorta mail it in for the first 8 games here.

The exception to that rule is the bottom of the Western Conference. Memphis and Portland tip off Friday afternoon at 4PM and I will be locked in. The NBA is bending over backwards to get Zion into the playoffs, so I’m sure the Pels will be hustling as well.

We were robbed of one of the best sports weekends of the year – the first few days of March Madness. While the NBA’s restart can’t really compete with four screens going at the same time at a random sports bar at noon on a Thursday, a few weeks of 6 games a day makes for a pretty welcome substitute. Let’s bask and rejoice and also ridicule anyone who chose fucking “Education Reform” as the message on the back of their jerseys.

Matt Branigan

To me, each conference is a three-horse race. In the East you have the Bucks, Celtics, and Raptors. In the West, you have the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets. That’s it.

For me those are the only teams that have a chance to make it to the finals. Yes, I left out the Sixers, because chemistry is important. Horford and Embiid have not practiced together on the same floor all offseason. Seriously?

Players seem not to be even talking with Brown and their coaches, the roster has been arranged and then rearranged a multitude of times, and Brown wants Embiid to play at least 38 minutes per game when the season returns. Good luck. Philly is a sitcom. Pass.

Don’t sleep on the Raptors. Because you can’t sleep on Nick Nurse, who is slowly and arguably becoming one of the best coaches in the game. Yes…he’s that good. And Kawhi’s “shot” (because you all know which shot I’m talking about) was absolutely amazing, but honestly, Nurse was a HUGE reason why they took down the Sixers last year in the playoffs.

I like the Bucks, but I’m actually not as high on them this year as most others. I think Giannis got better (for example, that turnaround jumper tho) but did the Bucks get better? I’m not so sure they are really as good, or even as deep, as they were last year. The Brogdon loss hurts. And I really need to see Middleton step it up in the playoffs.

If Giannis doesn’t win in Milwaukee, perhaps he may somewhere else? And let’s remember, Milwaukee has got to perform in the draft room… because Milwaukee is not a hot spot for free agents.

Giannis is an unbelievable player. But recent history has shown us that he can be stopped, or… well… at least contained in the playoffs. And it could either take some smart coaching and scheming (see Raptors vs. Bucks in 2019) or it may take not a single player, but a village. (See Celtics vs. Bucks in 2018).

Speaking of the Celtics, they were my pick before the season to win the East, and I’m sticking with that. I think depth is important in the playoffs and they have that. They don’t have a child for a point guard anymore, Hayward finally appears to be comfortable playing post his nasty leg injury, Brown has gotten significantly better all-around as a player, and Tatum is becoming a star. Also, don’t underestimate the stability and hunger within Kemba. I mean… he was in Charlotte all those years. Yeah. And Brad Stevens can coach too.

OK, now the West. The Rockets are easily the most interesting team in these playoffs. They could either really surprise people and go on a hot streak, or they could absolutely implode into a rolling tire fire. But with Westbrook and Harden together, there is no reason why they wouldn’t be able to get past teams like the Nuggets, Jazz, Mavs, etc.

Westbrook has been loving the small lineup. Without a 5 on the floor, he’s actually averaging over 28 PPG and his true shooting percentage is at least six points higher than his career mark. If you ever wondered why Houston got rid of Clint Capela, well… that might be it.

The Western Conference Finals will be the two LA teams. Unless something crazy happens or Westbrook turns into a super sayan. The Lakers are fascinating. Lebron is obviously great, and AD is a force. But then you look at the rest of their lineup, and it’s really…bizarre. Javale McGee, JR Smith, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Just say that out loud.

But you know what… Lebron makes it all work. Part of the reason why he’s so great. And not to mention, Kuzma, who I was high on last year, has been a little disappointing this year. But like my good friend Nick Nurse, Lebron is one of those guys you can never really count-out.

I like the Clippers a lot. And Kawhi is one helluva player. But I think Lebron, like he has all year, will find a way. Also, Danny Green might be my surprise star of the playoffs. Look for him to hit some big shots.

My finals pick before the season started was Lakers over Celtics in 7. A good old fashioned NBA rivalry! That’s what I had months ago, and im sticking to it.

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