The 2020 NBA Playoffs definitely has been one of the most memorable playoffs to date. The historic NBA bubble has witnessed some iconic performances both from up-and-coming superstars and established household names and has NBA fans at the edge of their seats waiting to see who’s going to take the 2020 NBA Championship.
With the fall of the Golden State dynasty and the big free agency moves last summer coupled with the skyrocketing development of the league’s young stars such as the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic and Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz, it seemed as if no team was a lock to get through the first round.
Every matchup has been a battle, especially in the Western Conference.
Each team in the West had a legitimate ground to believe that they could go all the way. Portland’s Damian Lillard went supernova in the bubble, giving the Los Angeles Lakers a slight scare; Dallas’ Luka Doncic established himself as a bonafide superstar ready to take over the league; Houston’s small-ball experiment and high-octane backcourt pair in former MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden thought that this may be the year they finally break through; and the Utah Jazz has shown that they had all the ingredients, led by Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, to be a competitive championship squad.
Of course, this doesn’t discount the fact that early in the season all eyes were on the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Anthony Davis finally found his way to the Lakers after a tumultuous trade saga with the New Orleans Pelicans and has established himself as the perfect running-mate for LeBron James, who’s just recently broken the record for All-NBA Team selections with 16 and is now looking to further solidify his standing among the all-time greats by chasing his 4th championship ring.
On the other hand, the Clippers’ unexpected blockbuster signing of superstar wings Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors has drawn comparisons to arguably the greatest duo of all time in Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, with some people calling the Clippers duo the best defensive wing duo since the 6-time Bulls champions.
A lot of people were expecting that the Western bracket of the playoffs would conclude with the epic battle of LA. It surely would have been monumental to see the current Finals MVP Leonard along with his 6-time All-Star partner George try to stop King James, who at age 35 and at the 17th year of his NBA career still continues to prove that he’s one of the best players in the NBA. Couple that with the fact that 7-time All-Star and former first overall pick Anthony Davis has just entered his prime and is finally in a team that’s built for the big stage, and it surely would’ve been fireworks to see the two squads battle it out in a 7-game series to prove who’s the best team in Los Angeles.
That was until Denver happened; the Denver Nuggets, who in recent years seemed to have all the pieces together led by their superstar center Nikola Jokic and sharpshooting guard Jamal Murray, but could never make it out of the West. Denver has definitely been the story in this year’s playoffs, at least in the Western Conference.
It seemed as if Denver, who was the third seed this year, was due for another upset when they went down 3-1 against the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz. However, Coach Mike Malone’s Denver squad rallied and came back to beat the Jazz in a 7-game nail-biter, which led to a second-round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Coach Doc Rivers who was looking to put the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals for the very first time in the franchise’s history. The exhausted Nuggets squad against the Clippers who had beaten the Dallas Mavericks in the first round seemed to be a foregone conclusion, especially when the perpetual other LA team went up 3-1 against Denver.
But perhaps the Nuggets were at their best when their backs are against the wall, with some fans quipping that the 3-1 Nuggets is the best playoff team of all time. Denver, led by arguably the best center in the league in Jokic and by Jamal Murray who established himself as an unquestioned star, came back from another 3-1 deficit and ousted the Clippers from championship contention. This marks the first time that a team who was down 3-1 won a playoff series twice in the same playoffs.
The Lakers, on the other hand, didn’t have such a turbulent postseason so far. The Western Conference first seed made relatively easy work of their first-round matchup and second-round matchup in the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets respectively, winning both series in five games.
The first game of the Western Conference Finals is scheduled on September 18, and it truly is exciting to see how far this Denver team can go, and whether or not the Lakers will cement themselves as the kings of the West.
Although the Lakers are currently heavy favorites at -750 odds to win the series, the Nuggets have consistently proven that they can defy all odds. Will Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic have much left in the tank after averaging 27.1 points per game in 39.1 minutes per game and 25.4 points per game in 37.6 minutes per game respectively throughout the postseason? Or will the series be taken by a rested Los Angeles Lakers team led by LeBron James who’s averaging a near triple-double at 26.6 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game along with another 20-10 superstar in Anthony Davis who’s notching 27.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for the Purple and Yellow?
Action Network has the Lakers winning the series at -750 odds while the Nuggets at +470 odds. The Lakers are favored to win the series in 4 games at +260 odds, in 5 games at +210 odds, in 6 games at +310 odds, and in 7 games at +600 odds. The Nuggets on the other hand have +7500 odds to win in 4, +3100 odds to win in 5, +1900 odds to win in 6, and +1300 odds to win in 7.
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