September 7, 2020, 1:25 am
Welcome Hoop Ball readers another edition of The Week Ahead!
The playoffs have continued to bring excitement and phenomenal performances, but the fun is hardly over as we are just hitting the stride of the second round. To quickly recap the NBA awards aside from MVP (which will probably be Giannis Antetokounmpo), the frontrunners for the awards all took home the trophies for the most part. Coach of the Year went to Nick Nurse, Defensive Player of the Year went to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Most Improved Player went to Brandon Ingram, Sixth Man of the Year went to Montrezl Harrell and Rookie of the Year went to Ja Morant. Giannis Antetokounmpo will join Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan as the only players to take home the MVP and DPOY in the same season.
Moving onto the playoffs, the Celtics and Raptors were the first series that got started and it has been quite an interesting one. The Celtics jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start the series and looked like they had full control. However, OG Anunoby ended Game 3 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. The Raptors went on to take Game 4 to even up the series as we head to Game 5 on Monday night. This series looks like it has the potential to go seven games and come down to the wire as the defending champs are looking to retain their title.
The Heat versus the Bucks was the next series to get started and the Heat dominated right from the start and took a quick 3-0 series lead. In Game 4, Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with an injury and was forced to leave the game after playing just 11 minutes. It looked as though the series would be over, but a man named Khris Middleton had something to say about that and dominated with 36 points as the Bucks took Game 4 in overtime. The Heat are still in control and the Bucks will likely be without Giannis for Game 5, so we could be seeing the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals very soon.
The last two series have just started and are looking to be competitive and exciting as well. The Nuggets and Clippers are tied at one game apiece, but Nikola Jokic suffered a wrist injury that could affect his performance. If he is able to continue playing well, this series could end up going six or seven games. The other series in the Western Conference is the Lakers versus the Rockets, which is also tied at one game apiece. The playoffs are heating up and we should continue to see exciting matchups.
Now here is an overview of the week ahead:
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Heat lead 3-1)
Game 5: Tuesday, 6:30 PM EST
Game 6: Thursday, TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Saturday, TBD (if necessary)
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors (Series tied 2-2)
Game 5: Monday, 6:30 PM EST
Game 6: Wednesday, 6:40 PM EST
Game 7: Friday, TBD (if necessary)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Tuesday, 9 PM EST
Game 4: Thursday, TBD
Game 5: Saturday, TBD
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Monday, 9 PM EST
Game 4: Wednesday, 9 PM EST
Game 5: Friday, TBD
Game 6: Sunday, TBD (if necessary)
Gordon Hayward (right ankle sprain) returned to the bubble on Sunday but his timetable to return remains indefinite. He originally had a four-week timetable, but head coach Brad Steven said that was aggressive and he probably will not be returning anytime soon. It seems as though the Celtics will be without Hayward for the rest of the Raptors series and the Eastern Conference Finals.
Nikola Jokic (sprained right wrist) is questionable for Game 3 with a sprained right wrist, but it seems unlikely that he would sit out given the stakes of the game. We will see if the injury affects his performance in any way as the Nuggets need him to bring the best version of himself.
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!