In case you missed it, there’s a bubble in Orlando broadcasting basketball games to the world! We’ve got 30 games in the books and an abundance of fun matchups, lockdown defense, and buzzer-beaters galore!
We’re only a little over a third of the way through the seeding games! Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry, it’s a lot after four months of absolutely no sports whatsoever. Strap in, and let me catch you up on the top takeaways thus far.
The Brow leads as the Lakers clinch the Western Conference top spot
Typically, LeBron is the man leading the Lakers, but even with some uncertainty looming over him after an eye injury, this has been the Anthony Davis show and we are just fortunate enough to have (virtual) courtside seats to watch it during this restart. He is averaging 30 points and 8.7 rebounds a game, connecting on 43% of his three-point field goals (just ignore the 2-for-7 effort from the field in 35 minutes against the Raptors over the weekend).
The exclamation point – A three while getting fouled by Rudy Gobert with under a minute left in the 4th quarter against the Utah Jazz Monday night. Davis ended the night with 42 points, a big reason why the Lakers clinched the top seed in the West. He probably won’t remain the leading scorer or play 36 minutes a game throughout the rest of the seeding games to rest, but if he can carry this level of production into the playoffs – WATCH OUT WORLD!
The Phoenix Suns are undefeated
Yep, you read that right.
Of the 22 teams invited to the NBA bubble, the Phoenix Suns is not one expected to extend their stay beyond August.
But, a decisive win again the Washington Wizards for their first restart game may have not raised any eyebrows. However, a two-point victory that included a defense holding an offensive juggernaut like the Dallas Mavericks to just 19 percent from the three-point line cannot be overlooked.
If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, Devin Booker came up clutch again and connected on a game-winning field goal against the Los Angeles Clippers – a team expected to make the Western Conference Finals if not the Finals. Don’t look now, but the Phoenix Suns are now 3-0 and inching closer to a bid for the coveted 8th seed in the Western Conference.
The Toronto Raptors are for real, for real…
The Raptors opened their first restart game last Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Remember LeBronto? Probably a name to throw on the back-burner for a while.
The Raptors held the Lakers to 35 percent from the field and outrebounded an Anthony Davis-led front-court 51-40. As mentioned, Davis was held to 2-of-7 shooting from the field and only finish with 14 points after his 34-point night against the Clippers on opening night.
Fast forward to Monday’s afternoon game and the Raptors held off some heat from Miami. Toronto would lose a 17-point lead only to secure a 107-103 victory against Miami. Connecting on 50 percent from the three-point line and a big game from Fred VanVleet dropping 36 points on 8-of-16 shooting held off the Heat from closing the gap on the second seed in the east.
The Raptors still have Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on their remaining seeding games in which they could further prove they’re serious about repeating as Eastern Conference Champions.
T.J. Warren is worth more than cash considerations
While it was up in the air that the Indiana Pacers might be without their best player in Victor Oladipo there was some soul searching for who got next. Warren dropped 53 points in the Pacers’ first game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Shooting 20-for-29 from the field (9-for-12 from the three-point line), Warren efficiently lit up the 76ers in a 127-121 win.
What if Warren’s 53-piece still hasn’t been beaten especially by someone named James Harden? (who dropped 49 points in his season restart debut by the way)
What if I told you that T.J. Warren is averaging 39.9 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, and shooting 65 percent from the field (61 percent from three) in Indiana’s first three bubble games?
Ask Mark Zuckerberg to put a fact check on that one and like Mr. Warren says, in an interview prior to the season with The Athletic’s Shams Charania, he’s worth more than cash considerations.