The NBA has recommenced in the Florida bubble to determine how the remaining playoff spots will be seeded.
Most places have already been clinched: but the Western Conference 8th seed and the Eastern Conference 7th and 8th seeds are yet to be decided.
With both conference tables still subject to change before the remaining spots are decided, it is not yet entirely clear which teams will face off in the first round of playoffs, but having seen plenty of bubble action, favourites for each Conference, and the NBA Finals are emerging.
WHO WILL MAKE THE CONFERENCE FINALS AND WHO WILL WIN?
“I expect the bucks to make the conference finals without doubt…
“Then it’s Philly, Toronto or Boston facing up against them.
“As a Boston fan, I’m programmed to tell you that it’ll be Bucks vs. Celtics, but the Raptors are so slept on, and Philly, if they can get it together could just get there.
“Logic suggests that Milwaukee should make it out of the east but it’s whether they can translate it into conference finals winning mentality, as they were 2-0 up on Toronto last year and then lost the next four.
“The raptors are a different team this year but still a very good one.
“They sit strongly in second in the east despite having to contend with injuries throughout the season. Don’t sleep on them.”
Meanwhile in the Western Conference, Rich predicted: “I think we will get an all LA west final, and I think the Lakers will do it in six, maybe seven games.”
It was a close match when the Lakers faced the Clippers for the first time in the bubble, with the result of the game decided by the very last possession of the game, when Paul George missed the game-winning shot at the death.
LeBron failed to deliver to his usual high standards, scoring fewer than 20 points, the Clippers didn’t have their full roster, as two players were still quarantining having entered the bubble late.
If they do meet in the Western finals, then it could be a series for the books.
WHAT ABOUT THE NBA FINALS?
“My preseason prediction was the Lakers. I’m staying with that.
“LeBron was hungry, and added the guy he wanted in AD, and if they win it, it will be a fitting tribute to the late, great Kobe Bryant.
“LeBron has taken worse teams to the NBA finals before. He’s just gotta hope JR Smith remembers which way they are shooting and how long is on the clock!”
He’s referring to this bizarre play in the 2018 Finals by Smith (now reunited with LeBron at the Lakers), when with seconds of the game to go, JR Smith sprints back towards his own basket, as a dismayed James watches. The Warriors went on to sweep the series 4-0…
“Absolutely no question, it’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s been incredible again.
“The award is based on the regular season.
“LeBron has been incredible and isn’t far off him, but has arguably had bigger marquee players around him.
“Giannis’s second guy, Khris Middleton, would possibly be the third or fourth best player on other squads.”
ON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR…
“Ja Morant has to be the ROTY.
“The limited amount of games Zion has played in have showcased what an incredible talent he is, and how immense his future could be, but Ja has been consistently good, and Memphis are in the playoffs seeds where people didn’t expect on the whole at the start of the season.
“Incredibly agile and an exciting talent. He’s been the best rookie. He deserves the award.”
COULD THERE BE ANY BIG SURPRISES IN THE REST OF THE SEASON?
“I think a lot of people expected the bubble to throw in a lot of unpredictability and upset the apple cart meaning that it could end up with someone completely random winning it, but I don’t see it.
“These guys are dialled in professionals.
“I don’t expect a wildcard finals team to end up there but If I had to pick a team who might make a surprise finals trip (based on preseason expectations though it’s less of a surprise based on current form) it’s Toronto from the east.
“West, I legitimately don’t think anyone has it in them to get past either LA team to the finals…
“So purely for novelty value and as a bit of fun, Dallas could perform a miracle with their young exciting stars and surprise everyone!”
COULD THE GREEK FREAK WIN MVP AND DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR?
“Totally possible. He could get one or the other, or both, and deserve each award without doubt.
“The only other player who can run him close on DPOY is AD, and the bucks are statistically the best defensive team in the league.”
The best of The Greek Freak in 16 minutes yesterday:
16 PTS | 7/8 FG | 6 REB | 4 AST pic.twitter.com/SXcDEdxnUJ
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 5, 2020
Billy will be appearing on the NBA UK Fans Instagram livestream today to talk everything NBA with Rich. Find them on Instagram: @nba_ukfans