GVN’s NBA Bubble Playoff Preview

The NBA was on an indefinite pause and it was possible this season never resumes. Yet, the bubble was created and here we are months later looking at the possible playoffs seeding and wondering who will win it all. For you guys, we’ll set the playoff field based on the current standings and run through each series giving you Geek Vibes Nation’s official NBA playoff preview.

Western Conference:

1. Los Angeles Lakers vs 8. Memphis Grizzlies

This matchup (as much as I love Ja Morant) will be a quick and swift one. The Lakers who have too much fire power with Anthony Davis and Lebron James, will be a matchup nightmare for Memphis. The Lakers are overall 3-1 on the season vs Memphis and the Grizzlies lack the defensive matchups to be able to contain James and Davis. If Kyle Kuzma can give the Lakers some supplemental scoring, it’s going to be a long series for the Grizzlies.

2. Los Angles Clippers vs 7. Dallas Mavericks

Another one I see being a quick one, the Mavericks just don’t have the forward play to match up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Luka Doncic is one the rising stars in the game and one of the games top point guards. Along with budding star Kristaps Porzingis the duo is one of the best in the league. Yet, that wont be enough against a Clipper team who has their eyes set on the championship.

3. Denver Nuggets vs 6. Houston Rockets

This is the toughest series to call yet with both teams being very even. Both teams boast two stars, the Rockets with Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and the Nuggets with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. The problem here is the matchup between Jokic and new center P.J Tucker. Jokic is 7’0 towering over PJ Tucker who stands at 6’5. Jokic is the best passing big man in the game and with this type of mismatch it could be a nightmare scenario for the Rockets. Jamal Murray is the key to this series, he needs to match the guard play of Westbrook and Harden. Even if Jokic is dominating in the paint he can’t do it alone. With all that being said…im going with the Houston Rockets. I believe in the end Harden and Westbrook are too good of a duo to be a one series exit. They will find ways to frustrate Jokic down low and abuse the Nuggets guard’s while playing their patented small ball. Rockets in seven.

4. Utah Jazz vs 5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Another really tough series to call as both teams are trouble for any top seed in the next round. The Utah Jazz, led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, are a tough defensive minded team with playmakers on offense. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a group led by one of the best point guards to ever play the game in Chris Paul and underrated guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This series is so even the Jazz finished the season with a record of 45-27 and the Thunder you might ask? Finished with a record of 44-28, almost identical to the Jazz. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Jazz and Thunder’s full strength rating (how good the team is at full strength) is almost the same as well, with the Thunder at 1629 and the Jazz at 1613. At the end of the day i’m here to make the tough choices and that’s what i’m going to do. Im going Thunder in seven because of the experience not only of Chris Paul but Steven Adams as well. The Jazz will make it hard on the Thunder but in the end I see this as a learning experience for the Jazz and the Thunder take advantage of that winning in seven.

Western Semifinals:

1. Los Angles Lakers vs 5. Oklahoma City Thunder

There will be a common theme in these predictions with the Lakers. I see this series going at max five games with the Lakers winning it 4-1. The Lakers again have too much fire power in Anthony Davis and Lebron James. The matchups don’t favor the Thunder except for Steven Adams who could give Davis and James some trouble. Chris Paul and his experience I think is good enough to take a game but with a motivated Lebron the Thunder stand no chance.

2. Los Angles Clippers vs 6. Houston Rockets

Another series I see being relatively quick due to the fact the Rockets defensively will have no answer to Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. According to FiveThirtyEight the Clippers have the highest Full Strength rating in the NBA with 1790. Along with Doc Rivers a coach with so much experience in the playoffs and a bench that is extremely deep. I just cant see the Rockets giving the Clippers any trouble. Clippers in four.

Western Conference Finals:

1. Los Angles Lakers vs 2. Los Angles Clippers

It’s the battle for L.A as many have branded it, two heavyweights with some of the best players in the world. I think both teams matchup well even if both have lost some players due to Covid-19. The Lebron James vs Kawhi Leonard matchup is what we all are waiting for including me. Yet, I think the key to this series is not James, Leonard, or George. The series for me comes down to Anthony Davis. The Clippers have some big men like Ivica Zubac but no one even close to Davis’s level. Davis is a national champion in college, a top prospect, and a number one draft pick. This is what he has been preparing for his whole life, to dominate in the playoffs and get his team to an NBA finals. I believe in the end Anthony Davis will prove once and for all he’s unquestionably one of the top five players in the NBA, and the Lakers will win this series 4-2 with every game being very close.

Eastern Conference:

1. Milwaukee Bucks vs 8. Orlando Magic

This series with all due respect to the Magic will be a very quick one.Giannis Antetokounmpo is unquestionably the best or second best player in basketball depending on who you ask. He is in every sense of the word dominant on the court and there is not much you can do to stop him. Along with Giannis, is Khris Middleton who is a sharpshooter that does not miss, I see this being very easy for the Bucks taking this 4-0.

2. Toronto Raptors vs 7. Brooklyn Nets

Another series I see being very quick but due to Covid-19 related issues. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will not be playing on this team along with star guard Spencer Dinwiddie. They lose too much fire power while running into the defending champion Toronto Raptors. Even after losing Kwahi Leonard they still have superstar Pascal Siakam and guard Fred Vanvleet terrorizing guards on the perimeter. This will another quick and easy series in the Eastern Conference, I got the Raptors taking it in four games.

3. Boston Celtics vs 6. Philadelphia 76ers

This is where things get interesting in the Eastern Conference with the Sixers and the Celtics. Both teams are star studded and both teams have playoff experience. The Celtics after losing Kyrie Irving replaced him with Kemba Walker and the team didn’t lose one step. Jayson Tatum made huge improvements this season and started to look like the superstar the Celtics thought they had when they drafted him. Joel Embid is dealing with some health issues right now but I don’t see that becoming an issue. Ben Simmons is the key in this series for me, if Ben can be more aggressive and test defenses with a jump shot the entire Sixers offense will change. Suddenly, when you defend the Sixers you have to be worried at all times of Simmons’s perimeter presence. For me, I think that Tatum and Walker will be too much for the Sixers. Too much going on with Philly at the moment with Embid’s injury, the constant conversation on Ben Simmons and jump shooting. Factor in the way the Celtics were playing before the stoppage, all signs point to a 4-2 series win for the Boston Celtics.

4. Miami Heat vs 5. Indiana Pacers

This series will start with my first bold prediction of this article, the Heat will sweep the Pacers. You heard it here first folks, I think the Heat with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo will sweep the Pacers handily. The Heat led by Butler have a coach who is uniquely experienced in the playoffs with Erik Spoelstra who formerly coached Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh with the Big Three. His experience along with the talent of Butler and Bam will be too much for the Pacers. Victor Oladipo is coming back from a major injury and will have to be eased back in. All the stars align for the Heat in this series and I think this will be a really tough task for the Pacers to overcome.

Eastern Semifinals:

1. Milwaukee Bucks vs 4. Miami Heat

A similar trend to the Lakers or Clippers the Bucks are going to breeze through some of these rounds. The Heat have so much talent in Butler, Herro, Adebayo, yet they dont have anyone on Giannis Antetokounmpo level. With the Lopez brothers down-low holding down Adebayo and Middleton giving Butler trouble at the perimeter. I just cant see the Heat winning this series, Giannis is playing at too high of a level at the moment. Bucks take this series 4-1, with the Heat winning one at home.

2. Toronto Raptors vs 3. Boston Celtics

Without a doubt the best series in the Eastern Conference so far, The Raptors and the Celtics match up extremely well. Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum are two very similar players. So similar their stats are almost identical, both averaging 23 points per game and seven rebounds. The key in this series will be the guard play in Fred Vanvleet and Kemba Walker. Walker a former national champion has been on stages like this before. Same for Vanvleet who last year came up huge in the NBA finals and was a major reason the Raptors are defending champions. Both coaches, Nick Nurse and Brad Stevens are top tier coaches and are evenly matched. In the end I think Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker have just enough to get by the Raptors in seven. Tatum looks like this season he has taken the next step in his development and this series will make that official. Celtics win an extremely close series 4-3 with Jayson Tatum being the key factor.

Eastern Conference Finals:

1. Milwaukee Bucks vs 3. Boston Celtics

This series is a tough one for me because as much as I would love to see an upset and see things get interesting, I just cant see the Bucks losing to any team in the eastern conference. They’re too well run, well coached, and their team chemistry is at an all time high. Every time you watch the Bucks they look like they’re having fun playing the game they love. Even in times of panic and distress they always seem to find an answer. Khris Middleton has been playing lights out this season and when he gets going from three the Bucks are incredibly tough to beat. As much as I love Jayson Tatum and the massive improvements he has made this season, it wont be enough to knock off the Bucks. Milwaukee wins this series 4-1 with Boston taking one game at home.

NBA Finals:

1. Milwaukee Bucks vs 1. Los Angles Lakers

I know, I know, I can already read the comments my finals ends up being the two number one seeds. Yet, I truly believe that is what’s going to happen. The Bucks and Lakers matchup somewhat well but there are some interesting key factors. Avery Bradley leaving the Bubble to spend time with his family hurts the lakers backcourt immensely. He is one of the best perimeter defenders the NBA has to offer and the Bucks have one of the best two guards in the league with Khris Middleton. The battle of the bigs in this series will be rough and rugged. Dwight Howard and Javale Mcgee are two of the biggest guys in the league and they will be going against the Lopez family who are not small or soft by any means. This series for the Lakers falls once again on Lebron James and his play. We know what were going to get from him on offense, around 28 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds.

Yet, what the Lakers might need the most from Lebron is defense. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been unstoppable all season, almost to the point where you actually question if he is the best player in the world. Lebron James currently holds that title and that crown, a title he has had for over 15 years. If Lebron wants to keep that crown and stay King James of the basketball world he needs to slow down Antetokounmpo and make the other Bucks players beat them. Both teams have a superstar in Antetokounmpo and James, but only one team has two superstars, and thats the Lakers. If Lebron can limit Antetokounmpo on the offensive side of the ball and Anthony Davis steps up and plays like a superstar when they need him most, the Lakers will control their destiny.

I see this series being extremely close but when it’s all said and done, I think the new NBA Champions are the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo is the new king of the NBA. The Lakers are suffering from losing too many players and the Bucks lost nobody while getting the time off to get healthy. Even with a full-powered Lebron and Anthony Davis, I believe the Bucks have too much depth that the Lakers don’t have. Bucks win the NBA finals 4-3.

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