2020 NBA Bubble & Playoff Preview


The NBA is finally Back!  Who's gonna make the playoffs, can anyone catch the Magic and Grizzlies?  And can LeBron bring a title back to the Lakers or will Giannis or Kawhi spoil the party?

Here is a preview and my predictions for the final standings and playoffs.  

Predicted Final East Standings

1. Milwaukee Bucks  59-14

2. Toronto Raptors   52-20

3. Boston Celtics  49-23

4. Miami Heat   46-27

5. Philadelphia 76ers   44-29

6. Indiana Pacers   43-30

7. Orlando Magic   33-40

8. Brooklyn Nets   31-41

9. Washington Wizards  25-47

Predicted Final West Standings

1. Los Angeles Lakers   55-16

2. Los Angeles Clippers  50-22

3. Houston Rockets   46-26

4. Denver Nuggets  46-27

5. Oklahoma City Thunder  45-27

6. Utah Jazz   44-28

7. Dallas Mavericks  45-30

8. Memphis Grizzlies  34-39

9. New Orleans Pelicans  34-40

10. Portland Trail Blazers 32-40

For the playoffs, to be honest I purposely tried to make some less conventional picks to make it more interesting (but very realistic ones in my opinion).  My Bracket Prediction is below followed by a summary for each team and their chances.  

3 Shocking Predictions:

1. The Bucks and the Lakers will NOT make the NBA Finals!

2. The Miami Heat will eliminate Giannis and the Bucks in the 2nd Round! 

3. The Raptors will make the Finals to face Kawhi and the Clippers!

 

Title Favourites

* Current Team Records are only based on before the Bubble started.

Milwaukee Bucks

Current Record:  53-12 (1st in East)

Bubble Schedule: BOS, HOU, BKN, MIA, DAL, TOR, WAS MEM

Predicted Record: 59-14 (1st in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player             10/10               Sidekick      7.5/10

                             

Rest of Team        7.5/10               Coach       8.5/10 

Offense                 9.5/10               Defense   9.5/10

Team Chemistry   9.5/10               Overall     62  

There should be no debate that Giannis is the clear MVP for keeping the Bucks at a 70 Win pace for most of the year, and he should really win the Defensive Player of the Year too.  The Greek Freak had one of the most statistical dominant seasons of All Time averaging an insane 34.5 pts, 16 rebounds and 6.7 assists per 36 minutes.

Sidekick Khris Middelton has also been incredible averaging over 25 pts, 7.4 rebounds and 5 assists per 36 minutes, with unbelievable shooting splits of 50/42/91%!

The big question is can they both step up in the playoffs after disappointing performances in last year's 4 straight losses to the Raptors.  I think it all depends on matchups and I think the Bucks would take care of the Raptors, Celtics and Sixers if they met this playoffs.  But the one team that I think can beat them is the Miami Heat and currently they are on a collision course in the 2nd round. 

The Heat handled the Bucks in both games this year and most importantly have two Elite defenders in Adebayo and Jimmy Butler (as well as Iggy) to help slow down the Bucks main two guys.  Nobody in the whole NBA is probably better equipped to stop Giannis than Bam Adebayo, with his mix of size, strength, speed, athleticism and anticipation.  In their last meeting Miami dominated in a 16 point win with Giannis going 6-18 (and a shocking 1-10 with Bam guarding him!), and Middleton just 4-16. 

So with Miami's depth, shooting ability and favourable matchups with the Bucks, I am making a shocking prediction that the Heat will knock Giannis out in 7 games.

Prediction: Lose Conference Semi Finals to Miami 4-3      

Los Angeles Lakers

Current Record: 49-14 (1st in West)

Bubble Schedule: LAC, TOR, UT, OKC, HOU, IND, DEN, SAC

Predicted Record: 55-16 (1st in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player         10/10           Sidekick        9/10

                   

Rest of Team       7/10          Coach          8/10 

Offense                9/10          Defense       9/10

Team Chemistry   9/10         Overall           61

The Bookies favourites, the Lakers lead by a resurgent LeBron James have dominated the West all year.  Anthony Davis is the perfect compliment for LeBron and they have to like their chances to go all the way.  

I think they will stroll through the first 2 rounds and it will all come down to a West Finals matchup with cross town rivals Kawhi and the Clippers, but either way I cannot see the city of Los Angeles not represented in this year's Finals.

If I have to make a call then I am giving the Clippers the slight slight edge just because they have a more well rounded deep squad with better all around players that seem to compliment each other better.  Sure you could argue as a duo, LeBron and AD have the edge over Kawhi and PG, but for the supporting cast, the Clippers have a big edge. 

Kuzma was supposed to be the 3rd guy but he just cant seem to fit well in this system and nobody else on the team is really capable to put up 20 points to support the Big 2.  With experienced guys Bradley and Rondo injured, I don't know if relying on irrational confidence guys who haven't played in a long time (Dion Waiters and JR Smith) is a recipe for success.

Prediction:  Lose Conference Finals to Clippers 4-3       

Los Angeles Clippers

Current Record: 44-20 (2nd in West)

Bubble Schedule:  LAL, NO, PHX, DAL, POR, BKN, DEN, OKC

Predicted Record: 50-22 (2nd in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player        10/10            Sidekick         8.5/10

                   

Rest of Team       8.5/10         Coach             8.5/10 

Offense                8.5/10         Defense          9/10

Team Chemistry   8.5/10         Overall            61.5  

The Clippers superior depth, experience and toughness on both sides of the ball make them the favourites in my eyes.  With reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard leading an even better supporting cast then he had last year, I don't see anyone except maybe the Lakers with a chance in hell to beat them 4 out of 7 games.

They have the 2 best Two-Way wing players in the league and with all the added rest during the COVID break, Kawhi and PG look to be fully 100% healthy for the first time this season.  And if Paul George can rediscover his form from last season when he was 3rd in both MVP and DPOY voting, the Clippers could reach a level we have not seen from them yet this season.

With the 2 best bench players in the league in Sweet Lou and Trez, the Clippers have unlimited firepower on the offensive end, with either player capable of dropping 25-30 points on any given night.  And with Pat Bev playing perimeter defense alongside Kawhi and PG, these Clippers are a matchup nightmare for any team.  Add in shooter Landry Shamet, new role players Reggie Jackson and the dog of all dogs Marcus Morris, and you are looking at the 2019-20 NBA Champions.    

And look for Kawhi to make a statement to his old team to prove HE was the reason they won last year, as he wins his record 3rd Finals MVP with 3 different teams.

Prediction: Win NBA Finals over the Raptors 4-2 (Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard)

Contenders

Toronto Raptors

Current Record: 46-18 (2nd in East)

Bubble Schedule: LAL, MIA, ORL, BOS, MEM, MIL, PHI, DEN

Predicted Record: 52-20 (2nd in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player        8/10            Sidekick       7/10

                   

Rest of Team   8.5/10          Coach          8.5/10 

Offense            7.5/10          Defense       9.5/10

Team Chemistry  9/10         Overall            58

Probably my most shocking prediction is the Raptors, yes the Raptors WITHOUT Kawhi will make the NBA Finals again!

This team is 46-18 with multiple injuries to most of their best players, mainly breakout superstar Pascal Siakam (11 Games Missed), Kyle Lowry (12), Fred Van Vleet (15), Norm Powell (20), Serge Ibaka (14) and Marc Gasol (28 Games Missed).  No matter what adversity this team faces, they just keep winning and winning. 

They still face a lot of questions, mainly how will Siakam handle his role as Go to Superstar in the playoffs and whether he can keep up his near 24 ppg scoring average.  Point Guards Lowry (19.7p/7.7a) and Van Vleet (17.6p/6.6a) have both been spectacular this season on both sides.  And Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka can alternate at the 5 position depending on matchups, with both of them excellent team defenders, and elite at defending the post.

But my X Factor is Norm Powell who has been smoking hot, averaging 18pts on 53%/43% shooting in December and January before getting injured in February.  But when he came back he was averaging superstar numbers, over 28 ppg in his 5 games back before the NBA got suspended!     

I am putting faith in these Raptors mainly cos of matchups because I don't think they can beat the Bucks, but I don't think they will have to play them.  I believe they can beat the Celtics in a tough 2nd round series before taming the Miami Heat, who will be physically and emotionally drained after using all their energy to take down the Bucks.       

Making the Finals will be an incredible achievement but actually Winning it All without a Top 10 Player will prove a step to far for these Raptors. 

Prediction: Lose NBA Finals 4-2 to Clippers 

Boston Celtics

Current Record: 43-21 (3rd in East)

Bubble Schedule: MIL, POR, MIA, BKN, TOR, ORL, MEM, WAS

Predicted Record: 49-23 (3rd in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player            7.5/10           Sidekick           7/10

                       

 Rest of Team         8/10            Coach      8.5/10

 Offense                 7.5/10          Defense    9/10

 Team Chemistry   8.5/10           Overall      56 

This young Celtic team is extremely talented with multiple versatile wing players that can shoot the ball and play both sides.  With Jaylen Brown playing like an All Star and Jayson Tatum blossoming into a superstar, the Celtics have an outside shot to make the NBA Finals.  

Jayson Tatum has been playing out of this world the last couple months, averaging a whopping 31 ppg since February 1st.  And Jaylen Brown has been almost as impressive, hitting the 20 point mark 30 times and averaging 20.4 on the season as a 3rd option.  Even Gordon Hayward has quietly had a great year, averaging over 17ppg on 50/39/85 shooting as well as 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

But the key factor could be Kemba Walker's knee issues.  Kemba clearly fits the team better than Kyrie did and he started the season on fire but then went cold in February / March shooting just 32% and dropping his scoring to 16ppg as Tatum and Brown took over the offense.  If Kemba is 100% and can find a way to play well together with the two Js, then Boston have a great shot to beat the Raptors and the Heat to make the finals.  But if they meet the Bucks I don't think they have a chance and I am banking on the Raptors beating them in a tough 7 games series. 

Prediction: Lose Conference Semi Finals 4-3 to the Raptors  

Miami Heat

Current Record: 41-24 (4th in East)

Bubble Schedule: DEN, TOR, BOS, MIL, PHX, IND, OKC, IND

Predicted Record: 46-27 (4th in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player            8/10            Sidekick        7.5/10

                       

Rest of Team         8/10           Coach            8.5/10 

Offense                 7.5/10         Defense         8/10

Team Chemistry    8.5/10        Overall             56  

My other big surprise that I am predicting is Miami will take care of Philly in Round 1 before shocking the Bucks in the Conference Semi Finals.  

As mentioned earlier, both star players are elite lock down defenders and matchup perfectly with the Bucks two stars.  Butler is having arguably his best season ever averaging Career Highs in Rebounds (6.6) and Assists (6.1) while scoring over 20 points a game.  He is the perfect player to try and put pressure and maybe talk a little trash to the mild mannered Khris Middleton.

And Bam should be the Most Improved Player, doubling his scoring from 8 to 16 ppg and more than doubling his assists to 5.1, making him the second best passing Center in the league after Jokic.  But the strongest part of his game is still his elite versatile defense with the speed, strength and versatility to give Giannis all he can handle.    

The Heat also have huge depth and talent on the wings including Rookies Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, new signings Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder, Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and High Flyer Derrick Jones Jr.  And their Bigs Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk (both 43%) are the top 2 3 point shooters for Centers in the whole league (% wise).

Add in Super Sub Goran Dragic and this team goes 11 DEEP - full of shooters and defenders perfectly built for success in the playoffs.  But after shocking the Bucks I don't think the Heat will have enough left in the tank to make the NBA Finals.

Prediction: Lose in Conference Finals to Raptors 4-2

Houston Rockets

Current Record: 40-24 (6th in West)

Bubble Schedule: DAL, MIL, POR, LAL, SAC, SA, IND, PHI

Predicted Record: 46-26 (3rd in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player         9/10             Sidekick      8.5/10

                      

Rest of Team      7/10             Coach     8/10         

Offense               8.5/10          Defense  7/10

Team Chemistry  7.5/10         Overall   55.5  

The Rockets are one of the hardest teams to predict.  Having 3 months off could do wonders for Wetsbrook and especially Harden who has been known to wear down in the playoffs after long regular seasons.  At times they look unstoppable offensively and Harden and Russ have had great seasons, but the one problem is they have yet to play very well at the SAME time. 

The Beard was on fire in November / December averaging almost 40ppg on 41% shooting from 3 but then dropped more than 10ppg in January to 28.6 ppg on a horrible 35% shooting from the field and just 27% from the line - just when Westbrook was starting to surge. 

Meanwhile The Brodie was the complete opposite, horrible in Nov/Dec shooting just 42% and 22% from 3, to MVP level in Jan/Feb averaging over 33ppg which is an incredible achievement to score so much while playing next to Harden. 

They also have Eric Gordon, Robert Covington and PJ Tucker, 3 tough players that can defend and make shots, but their lack of any interior presence makes them very vulnerable against bigger teams.

Looking at the remaining schedules of Denver and Utah, I think the Rockets could storm home with a 6-2 record and steal the 3rd seed.  Then I see the Jazz dropping to the 6th seed and you know what happens when the Rockets and Jazz meet in the playoffs!  But after taking care of the Jazz, the Clippers will prove to be too tough with Kawhi and PG taking turns to slow down Harden. 

Prediction: Lose 2nd Round to Clippers 4-2    

Pretenders

Philadelphia 76ers

Current Record: 39-26 (6th in East)

Bubble Schedule: IND, SA, WAS, ORL, POR, PHX, TOR, HOU

Predicted Record: 44-29 (5th in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player       8.5/10               Sidekick     7.5/10

                        

Rest of Team    7.5/10              Coach         7/10 

Offense             7.5/10              Defense      8.5/10

Team Chemistry  6.5/10            Overall         53

I am a big Philly fan but they have let me down in the past so I will not be betting on them this year. 

Already similar problems are appearing with Embiid missing scrimmage games due to a minor injury and spacing / shooting problems which are exposed even more in the playoffs. 

There is no doubt this team has enough talent and ability to even make a run at the NBA Finals, but chemistry and teamwork seem to always be a question mark.  Losing JJ Redick who was perfect next to Simmons was a huge mistake, as was losing Forwards that could defend and stretch the floor Robert Covington and Dario Saric.  

New signings Al Horford and Josh Richardson are very good players but Horford especially does not fit at all next to Embiid, and Coach Brett Brown has been relegated to starting Big Al on the bench.  Coach is also moving Ben Simmons to Horford's PF position to allow point guard Shake Milton to start and give the Sixers more balance. 

But I just cant trust Simmons in the clutch or Embiid's health so as much as I rate the Sixers, I don't feel they have quite enough to take down the Heat, and will lose a hard fought 7 game series.  

Prediction: Lose in 1st Round to the Heat 4-3 

Denver Nuggets

Current Record: 43-22 (3rd in West)

Bubble Schedule: MIA, OKC, SA, POR, UT, LAL, LAC, TOR

Predicted Record: 46-27 (4th in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player           8.5/10           Sidekick       6.5/10

                       

Rest of Team         7/10             Coach           8/10 

Offense                  8/10             Defense        8/10

Team Chemistry     9/10            Overall           55  

Denver is the one team currently with home court that I think could have a bad last 8 games and lose their number 3 seeding.  Sure Nikola Jokic looks in great condition but important players Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton are not quite ready to play and with a super tough remaining schedule, I can see the Nuggets going 3-5 that could drop them anywhere down to the 4th, 5th or even 6th seed.

Even when healthy, there is something I don't quite trust about Jokic's supporting cast in the playoffs and in the biggest games.  Even last year they struggled to beat a very average Spurs team in 7 and then lost to a lower seeded Blazer Team with Game 7 at home.  And that was with Jokic having a monstrous 1st playoffs averaging a never before seen 25 points / 13 rebounds and 8.5 assists on 50/40/85 shooting, as well as Jamal Murray upping his scoring to over 21 ppg last postseason.

There is some excitement with rookies Michael Porter Jr and especially Bol Bol who was spectacular in the scrimmages last week.  But I don't think they are quite ready to make a meaningful impact and I think the Nuggets will end up in the 4-5 matchup with the Thunder where they will lose in a tough 6 game series.

Prediction: Lose 1st Round to Thunder 4-2 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Current Record: 40-24 (5th in West)

Bubble Schedule: UT, DEN, LAL, MEM, WAS, PHX, MIA, LAC

Predicted Record: 45-27 (5th in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player            7.5/10         Sidekick     6.5/10

                  

Rest of Team          8/10          Coach         8/10      

Offense                  8/10          Defense       8/10

Team Chemistry    9/10          Overall         55  

This team has flown under the radar, but make no mistake about it, this young Thunder team is for real.  Since a slow 11-14 start, the Thunder have gone 29-10 since December 17th - 2nd best in the West behind only the Lakers!  And in the last 2 months before the suspension they were even better, 17-5 which was better than every other Western Conference Team, and even a better record than the Bucks during that span! 

They have a killer 3 guard rotation in CP3, SGA and supersub Dennis Schroder as well as sharp shooter Danilo Gallinari, and reliable Big Man Steven Adams, a very underrated 5 man lineup. 

Chris Paul especially is back to his best, leading the team superbly and winning multiple games for them in the clutch.  In fact CP3 leads the entire NBA in total points scored in the clutch and what's even more impressive is how efficient his clutch scoring has been.  Most players lose efficiency when the game is on the line but Paul went from an already impressive 61% TS% to a crazy 68% in the clutch - and over 90% of his clutch points came unassisted.  He also leads the whole league in midrange shooting.   

I am not claiming the Thunder will actually win the West or anything, but I definitely think they can win a round if they get the right matchup.  And I have them meeting the Nuggets in the 1st round which is a series I think they have an great chance to win.  They have been the better team since Thanksgving and they know how to execute in close games, so I see them taking out the Nuggets in 6. 

But that is as far as the Thunder will go, as I see the Lakers taking them out in 5 games in the Conference Semi Finals, with the Thunder having no answer for the LeBron / AD Combo.

Prediction: Beat the Nuggets 4-2 than lose to the Lakers in WCSF 4-1

Utah Jazz

Current Record: 41-23 (4th in West)

Bubble Schedule: NO, OKC, LAL, MEM, SA, DEN, DAL, SA

Predicted Record: 44-28 (6th in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player        7.5/10            Sidekick      7.5/10

                         

Rest of Team       7/10             Coach       8/10 

Offense              7.5/10            Defense    8/10

Team Chemistry   7.5/10          Overall      53  

Could this be the year where the Jazz finally make some noise in the playoffs?  

At full strength the Jazz are a great team on both sides but I think there are just too many question marks and chemistry issues this year.  After going on a hot streak winning 19 of 21 games including 10 wins in a row (all without Mike Conley), the Jazz only went 10-10 in their last 20 games with Conley.  Conley seems to have a hard time fitting in with his teammates, shooting just 40% from the field, as well as averaging Career lows in assists and steals, while not playing defense at his normal elite level.

Conley has played better of late, but the bigger problem is his inability bring out the best in fellow playmaker Joe Ingles.  Ingles was a different player without Conley, averaging almost 14 points and over 6 assists on almost 50% shooting to just 6ppg on 35% shooting in February with Conley.

Another question is the possible fractured relationship between their two stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, after Gobert allegedly gave Spida the Coronavirus by acting immaturely in the locker room, which started the whole NBA suspension back in March.  

After Mitchell was initially very angry, I suspect their relationship would be fine by now.  The bigger question and problem for the Jazz will be how they cope without 2nd leading scorer and Go-to Player in the Clutch Bojan Bogdanovic, who is out for the season with a wrist injury.  I just don't think they can make up for his loss and I see them going 3-5 in the last 8 games to finish 6th where they will face and once again lose to their arch nemesis Houston.

Prediction: Lose to Rockets in 1st Round 4-1

Dallas Mavericks

Current Record: 40-27 (7th in West)

Bubble Schedule: HOU, PHX, SAC, LAC, MIL, UT, POR, PHX

Predicted Record: 45-30 (7th in West)

My Rating:   

Star Player          9/10             Sidekick      7/10

                      

Rest of Team        7/10            Coach      8/10       

Offense                 9/10            Defense   7/10

Team Chemistry   7.5/10         Overall     54.5  

One thing is for sure, the Dallas Mavericks with the league's best offense is much better than a normal 7th seeded team.  In fact if you go by current point differential (which many experts have claimed is a better indication of team strength), the Mavs with their elite +6.1 differential would make them the 3rd seed!  

Luka Doncic averaging 29p/9r/9a is having one of the greatest Sophmore seasons of All Time and sidekick Kristaps Porzingis is looking like an All Star ever since he moved to the Center position full time.  Tim Hardaway Jr and Seth Curry are also having Career Years shooting the basketball.  Finney Smith, Maxi Kleber and new signing Trey Burke are also very underrated and if they can contribute regularly, the Mavs will be no easy out in Round 1. 

But even if the Mavs win most of their upcoming games, it probably won't be enough to lift them into the 6th seed.  That means they won't be able to avoid the vaunted Clippers who are almost locked into the number 2 seed.  I think the Mavs are capable of beating all 4 teams above them, but they just don't have enough to beat my Title favourites.

Prediction: Lose 1st Round to the Clippers 4-2

Make Playoffs but No Chance to Advance

Indiana Pacers

Current Record: 39-26 (5th in East)

Bubble Schedule: PHI, WAS, ORL, PHX, LAL, MIA, HOU, MIA

Predicted Record: 43-30 (6th in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player          7/10                   Sidekick           6/10

                             

Rest of Team       7.5/10               Coach   8/10 

Offense                7.5/10               Defense   8.5/10

Team Chemistry   8.5/10              Overall    52.5  

The Pacers have done amazingly well to sit in 5th position above the talented 76ers in a Top Heavy East.  And after Oladipo initially said he wouldn't play in Orlando, he is now available but now there are serious questions about All Star Domantas Sabonis's foot injury.

Sabonis was having spectacular season averaging 18.5pts, 12.4 reb and 5 ast and the Pacers actually have 7 players scoring in double figures.  TJ Warren leads the team averaging 18.7ppg followed by Sabonis, Brogdon (16.3ppg), Oladipo (13.8ppg), Lamb (12.5ppg), Myles Turner (11.8ppg) and Doug McDermott (10.4ppg). The Holiday brothers Aaron (9.4ppg) and Justin (8.4ppg) have also become key bench players this season.

Although the Pacers won't be an easy out, looking at the schedule I see them falling to 6th and a first round matchup with the Celtics.  The Pacers will play them tough but I see Jayson Tatum shining and the C's winning a hard fought 6 game series. 

Prediction: Lose 1st Round to the Celtics 4-2    

New Orleans Pelicans

Current Record: 28-36 (10th in West)

Bubble Schedule: UT, LAC, MEM, SAC, WAS, SA, SAC, ORL

Predicted Record: 34-40 (9th in West - Win Play In Series)

My Rating:   

Star Player              7/10               Sidekick          7/10

                       

Rest of Team          7.5/10           Coach          7/10 

Offense                   8.5/10           Defense       6.5/10

Team Chemistry      7.5/10          Overall         51

Don't be fooled by the Pelicans 28-36 record because this is easily a winning team when everyone is healthy.  In Net Rating The Pels actually have the best 5 man rotation in the league with Zion, Ingram, Holiday, Ball and Derrick Favors - who's defensive presence is a very underrated key to their success.

The Pelicans lost 13 games in a row earlier this season, many without Favors and of course Zion which put them in an impossible position to make the playoffs.  But they look like a different team now and with Ingram now a 25ppg efficient scorer and Ball and Holiday playing great 2 way basketball (not to mention sharp shooter JJ Redick), this Pelican Team has enormous potential

They also have one of the easiest remaining schedules, and with the difficulty of Memphis's final 8 games, I see the Pelicans staying within 4 games of the Grizz to force a Play in Tournament for the playoffs.  Then I see their superior talent and a breakout performance from Zion to overwhelm the young Grizzlies to squeeze into the playoffs.

But as talented as they are, there is no way they are beating the Top Seeded Lakers and a determined LeBron James, although I see them winning a couple games in a competitive 1st Round Series.

Prediction: Beat Grizzlies then lose Round 1 to the Lakers 4-2

Orlando Magic

Current Record: 30-35 (8th in East)

Bubble Schedule: BKN, SAC, IND, TOR, PHI, BOS, BKN, NO

Predicted Record: 33-40 (7th in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player            6.5/10             Sidekick          5/10

                              

Rest of Team          6/10                Coach      7.5/10

Offense                   5/10                Defense   7.5/10

Team Chemistry     7/10                Overall     44.5  

The only team in the Bubble that can truly say they are playing in their home city are the Magic.  But without their home court and home crowd it is difficult to see them having any advantage over any other team.

Leading scorer Nikola Vucevic is having another great season averaging almost 20 pts and 11 rebounds a game.  Evan Fournier provides scoring support averaging 18.8ppg, but Slam Dunk Contest Snub Aaron Gordon (14.4ppg, 43%FG) seems to be regressing with lower scoring and efficiency numbers then the last couple seasons.  

There have been some bright spots, mainly Jonathan Isaac's impressive play before his injury and also Markelle Fultz with a bounce back season averaging 12 pts and 5 ast per game AND shooting over 47% from the field. 

I do think the Magic can at least catch and pass the Brooklyn Nets for 7th seed to avoid the Top seeded Bucks.  But it doesn't really matter which team the Magic face in the 1st round, I think they will just be lucky to win one game.     

Prediction: Lose 1st Round against the Raptors 4-1 

Brooklyn Nets

Current Record: 30-34 (7th in East)

Bubble Schedule: ORL, WAS, MIL, BOS, SAC, LAC, ORL, POR

Predicted Record: 31-41 (8th in East)

My Rating:   

Star Player             5.5/10               Sidekick         5/10

                               

Rest of Team         5/10                   Coach         6/10

Offense                  6/10                   Defense      7.5/10

Team Chemistry     6/10                  Overall        41 

The worst team that will make the playoffs also has the most injuries.  With the 4 month break, there was some wishful thinking that KD and Kyrie could make a return for the playoffs to create a blockbuster 1st round matchup. 

But not only will their 2 stars not be returning, next leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie and Big Man DeAndre Jordan will also miss out, leaving the Nets extremely thin on talent.

Caris Levert looks to be the one who will take over the team in the Bubble, and don't be surprised to see him scoring around 25 ppg, while Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen will also be heavily relied on. 

With a comfortable 6 game lead over the Wizards who have a tough schedule to finish and no Bradley Beal, I think this depleted Nets squad can still hold on to a playoff spot.  Then they also have two key games against the Magic which will help to decide who finishes 7th, but I think the Magic are the better team and will win those games, leaving the Nets to get swept by the Bucks in the 1st round.

Prediction: Finish 8th, Lose to the Bucks 4-0 in the 1st Round.  

Miss Playoffs

Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards 

I think the Blazers may actually be the best team out of everyone fighting for the 8th spot but their schedule is extremely daunting, so I think New Orleans will just edge them out for 9th spot and a Play In Series with the Grizzlies.  

I don't think the Spurs, Kings or Suns are in the same class as the above 3 teams, especially with the Spurs missing Big Man LaMarcus Aldridge.  As for the East, the Wizards without Wall and now Beal are just terrible and have no chance to even get within 4 games to force a Playoff with the Nets.      

 

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73 comments


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