August 28, 2020, 12:05 am
A Historic 24 Hours
While unprecedented times have become somewhat of a norm lately the NBA and the remaining players in the bubble showed an unparalleled amount of solidarity and sacrifice on Wednesday, postponing the season, starting with the Bucks sitting out their contest against the Magic in an attempt to enact meaningful change and support the fight against racial inequality and social injustice in America. The stoppage of play continued Thursday and even spread throughout the other major sports leagues as the WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS all had their own postponements. The NBA players, coaches, owners, league officials and Board of Governors spent Thursday in various meetings trying to figure out what’s next in all aspects of the current situation. Let’s take a look at what went down.
The discussion on whether to continue the season began Wednesday and extended all the way through Thursday afternoon. After preliminary talks between players ended late Wednesday night the players set a meeting for Thursday, coinciding with the previously scheduled Board of Governors call. Heading into the meeting, reports out of the bubble indicated that there was a strong sense the majority of the players wanted to finish out what they had started and continue the playoffs, while bigger names such as LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard were in favor of halting the season. Some players expressed they had already made a substantial sacrifice coming to the bubble and felt as if they can use their platform to enact change, while others felt they should have never come to Orlando in the first place. With tension and emotions running high, the players left their respective meeting with a collective agreement to continue the season. As more meetings were held regarding the resumption of the league, the owners, executives, coaches and players continued discussions on various plans of action to continue the fight against social justice issues.
No date has been set for the resumption of the playoffs, but as the talks continue there is a general hope around the league that we will get a return to game action on Saturday. The NBA Players Association has a meeting scheduled with the owners late Thursday night and the expectation is that we will have more insight into their plans once it has been completed. As this is an extremely fluid situation and no concrete plans have been made keep an eye out for further updates soon.
The Bucks created a domino effect throughout all of the major American sports leagues in action, and players across teams across the country showed their unity and stood up for the cause. While we all know changes are not going to be made overnight, these actions highlight the need for change, which many have been working towards in this country, for years.
Where We Left Off
Although it’s been 48 hours, it sure feels like we haven’t cared about an actual NBA game in over a week. Here’s how things will look once (if) the players get back on the court
Orlando v. Milwaukee
Had the Bucks actually taken the floor Wednesday, they surely would have closed this series out. Orlando shocked the world by stealing Game 1, but Milwaukee has shown the dominance we all expected in every contest since. The Bucks have been firing on all cylinders lately and will go into Game 5, fully healthy, with a 3-1 lead and the question isn’t will they win, it’s by how much. The winner of the series moves on to face the Heat, who swept the 76ers out of Orlando. Although a questionable decision, Giannis Antentokounmpo just collected his first Defensive Player of the Year Award and is expected to run away with the MVP after the voting results leaked online.
Oklahoma City v. Houston
After the first two games, Houston had a commanding 2-0 lead and it looked as if this series might be over. OKC has battled back to knot the series up at two games a piece and a berth into the second round is still up for grabs. Houston has been playing without Russell Westbrook who is nursing a quad injury, and while it seems as if he is getting close to coming back, there is still no timetable for his return.
Portland v. Los Angeles
Similar to the Orlando/Milwaukee series, Portland,a heavy underdog, stole Game 1, but are now on the brink of elimination. Portland came into the series one of the hottest teams in the league so their Game 1 victory was not as shocking as Orlando’s, but that win also flipped a switch for the Lakers who have been dominant in the following three games. Heading into Game 5, down 3-1, Portland will be without star Damian Lillard who has left the bubble for further examination on his knee. He has also been bother by an injury to his finger, which occurred towards the end of Game 3. The Blazers are going to need a miracle to turn this series around without Dame, and even if they do his status for the remainder of the playoffs is currently uncertain. Dame Time was cute while it lasted.
Dallas v. Los Angeles
At this point I think everyone loves watching Luka Doncic, but did anyone actually believe he’d get the Mavs this far against the Clippers? After Luka, on a bum ankle, tied the series at 2-2 the Clippers we were all expecting to see showed up and smoked the KP-less Mavs in Game 5. While Kristaps Porzingis deals with knee issues, Luka and the supporting cast were able to hold their own in Game 4, but “Playoff P” finally showed up in Game 5, as Paul George lead the Clips to victory. If Porzingis can’t return to action this is another series that could easily be written off as over, but as long as Doncic is playing anything is possible.
Denver v. Utah
The Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray duel has become the most compelling part of this series. We’re heading into Game 6 with Utah sporting a 3-2 lead but Murray posting 92 total points and 0 turnovers over the last two contests. Mitchell has also held his own and posted multiple 50+ point games in the series, as the impending restricted free-agent has played himself into superstardom and will surely be looking at quite the raise this off-season. If this series has showed us anything, it’s that these teams are an equal match and with that being said, I am not even going to bother making an assumption on who will be victorious.
Boston v. Toronto
We didn’t have to wait long as we are getting one of the best possible series in the second round as Boston and Toronto face off for a berth in the Conference Finals. Both teams are a serious threat to come out of the East and we are hopefully in store for an eventful series. Unfortunately, each team comes into play with injury concerns. Kyle Lowry is nursing an ankle sprain and has been listed as questionable for Game 1, so the extra days off could pay off for the Raptors. Boston’s Gordon Hayward is also dealing with an ankle sprain but has left the bubble for further treatment. It has been announced he is sidelined for a minimum of four weeks, so there is no chance he suits up against Toronto. This is a matchup where anything can happen and lets hope, for our sake, we get a competitive lengthy series.