The NBA playoffs has officially started. And thank you MVP group, through CIGNAL and One Sports, NBA action is back in the Philippines!
This is the beginning of a two-month journey to see which team will be able to say it won a championship. It would come in the most unusual, most trying season the league has ever seen because of a shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic and 22 teams eventually moving into a so-called bubble at the Disney complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to salvage the season.
NBA 2018-2019 defending champs, Toronto Raptors are back sans NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard who is now with the Los Angeles Clippers. Thhe Eastern Conference field also includes the Milwaukee Bucks, who posted the best regular-season record for the second consecutive year and have a likely back-to-back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In the Western Conference, for the first time since 2015, Dubs Nation, Golden State Warriors won’t be going to the NBA Finals. They are now hoping for a reset next season with a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson next season, possibly with the No. 1 overall draft pick as well.
The King is back in the playoffs, after taking the Los Angeles Lakers to the best record in the West this year. Lebron James has gone to the NBA Finals in each of his last eight postseason trips; four with Miami, then four more with Cleveland.
Teams have been in the bubble for nearly six weeks now, first for a couple weeks of training camp, then three scrimmages followed by eight seeding games that were critical to some clubs and little more than tuneups to others.
The mood was different in the opening days of bubble life. NBA made all the necessary preparations by providing the NBA teams and their players what can be done as they continue to finish the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bass fishing on the Disney campus was all the rage, more than a few players tried golf for the first time — a group from one team, perhaps not yet fully versed in golf etiquette, tried to play with nine people, compared with the typical max of four — and everything from poker tabletops to wine fridges were being shipped in to help players pass the time.Some gamers have put down their controls for the next few weeks; Miami’s Meyers Leonard, generally considered the best Call of Duty player in the NBA, announced that he needs a break to focus on the playoffs.
There’s no travel in these playoffs, obviously. It’ll be 16 teams, with games limited to two arenas at Disney. For the first round, it’ll be four games per day at each site, meaning drama will begin in the early afternoon and continue until late in the evening.
Inside the bubble, safety precautions are strict. Daily testing is working and the value of the strict protocols has been proven. No players inside have had a confirmed positive test and now the best time of the NBA year is set to begin.
And for a basketball crazy country like the Philippines, we can all just be happy and hopeful that in the middle of lockdowns, we have the opportunity to see some great NBA basketball actions in the comfort of our own home.
With additional reports: Associated Press, Tim Reynolds;
Image Source: Clutcpoints, NBA, Yahoo Sports