With the NBA resuming at the end of the month, the remainder of the games will take place in a bubble environment in Orlando, Florida. Although we know who the favorites are, don’t be surprised if things don’t go as planned. Here are a few surprises that could take place:
5. Portland Makes The Playoffs, Threatens The Lakers
The Trail Blazers currently sit three games out of the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could overtake Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. If they do, the presumptive top seed Los Angeles Lakers better watch out. The combined efforts of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony could push them to the brink. If they make the dance, a seven-game series is almost a guarantee.
4. The Brooklyn Nets Make The Second Round
The Nets have been ravaged by injuries and aren’t on anyone’s radar at this time. However, this could actually be used to their advantage. Their potential first round opponent, the Toronto Raptors, won’t have home court advantage and are unproven in the playoffs without Kawhi Leonard.
3.The New Look Sixers Make The Finals
The Sixers have finally moved Ben Simmons into the power forward role. If practices are any indication of what’s to come, Philadelphia will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. They also have a path that could offer the least resistance. In the first round, Philadelphia would potentially face the Boston Celtics, who they have dominated this season; winning three out of their four matchups. Their second round opponent, if things play out, would be either an undermanned Brooklyn team or Kawhi-less Raptors.
2. The Clippers Suffer A First Round Exit
While the Clippers are certainly loaded with talent, they have touchiest first round matchup of any team: Paul George and company only hold a one game lead over Denver for the second seed. This means they could possibly see Dallas or Houston in the first round if their seeding changes. Either one of those teams are capable of knocking off a Clippers team whose two best players have only played 18 games together, and is going into their first postseason run. If Los Angeles’ second team isn’t careful, they could be headed for yet another early exit.
1. The Bucks Don’t Make The Finals
Despite holding the best record in the NBA, and having the reigning league MVP, the lack of playoff success for Milwaukee is a concern. Their road to the NBA Finals remains difficult through all three rounds, and the bubble environment doesn’t help their cause. The Bucks are far from a safe bet to win it all.