Who knew that the NBA bubble would be pierced not by the threat of COVID-19, but the virulent sickness called social injustice?
Well, that was almost the case yesterday when the players, owners, and league office held back-and-forth meetings right after the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic decided to boycott Game 5 of their first round series the other day.
Along with the said game, the matches between Nuggets-Jazz, Celtics-Raptors, and Clippers-Mavericks were also postponed, and that led to a big dialogue talking about different social issues.
At the end of the day, the players decided to continue the NBA postseason especially with Hornets owner Michael Jordan stepping in.
Michael Jordan is the only current black majority owner and he became an effective liaison between the parties involved. The former NBA All-Star proposed concrete solutions to address these social issues such as pledging to fund various education and social welfare groups.
And now that we’re back again, SBOTOP takes a look at the games ahead this weekend.
Denver Nuggets vs Utah Jazz
The Donovan Mitchell-Jamal Murray showdown is probably the most underrated matchup in the 2020 playoffs, and they have been spoiling us with video game numbers and NBA 2020 highlights.
The two of them have stepped up big time in Orlando. Mitchell has poured in a couple of 50-point performances in this series alone while Murray upticked his scoring norm from 18.5 points per game in the regular season to 30.8 as of this writing.
The Game 4 of this series saw the peak of these two young stars going at it.
Jamal Murray scored 50 points and 11 rebounds and he became the first Nuggets player in franchise history to reach the scoring milestone.
Unfortunately for Denver, Murray’s high-scoring night was offsetted by Mitchell’s 51-point effort, with 18 of those coming into the final period to tow Utah to a 3-1 series lead.
In Game 5, however, the Nuggets staved off elimination as Jamal Murray showed up again. He scored 42 points, with 33 of those coming into the second half as they mounted a big comeback with their season on the line.
Murray’s 92 points in those two games put him in great company alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant as the players who have the highest scoring totals in a two-game span in the playoffs.
With the series at 3-2 in favor of Utah, can Murray lead the Nuggets once more to force a Game 7? Or will Mitchell and the Jazz finally move on to the second round?
Los Angeles Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks
The series between the Clippers and the Mavericks lived up to the hype as the stars came out to play.
Los Angeles lead the series 3-2 primarily because of the efforts of Kawhi Leonard, who have silently averaged 32.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game.
Such effort was needed from The Klaw especially when Paul George had major shooting woes in three straight games prior to Game 5.
With the Mavericks’ defence focused on slowing him down, George only shot 32-for-87 in the series (37-per cent), which led to key losses during Games 2 and 4.
Meanwhile, Luka Doncic has emerged as a bonafide star as he continues to lead the Mavericks.
The Slovenian wunderkind is racking up numbers at a historical rate, and he’s shown his clutch gene recently when he knocked down the game-winning triple in Game 4.
With the Mavericks now backed against the wall, they will need more from Doncic to try and extend the series especially with Kristaps Porzingis still coping with knee soreness.
Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors
Two East powerhouses will meet up in the second round as the Celtics and Raptors figure in a much-awaited playoff clash.
These two teams have made quite a statement here in Orlando, sweeping their respective first round opponents in the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia Sixers.
The Celtics have been successful because of their high-octane attack and heady defence. Boston boast the trio of Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Jayson Tatum, who all average at least 20 points per game.
Meanwhile, the Raptors are buoyed by their deep roster. From the starting lineup to the bench, the Nick Nurse-mentored squad has shown the capability to take care of business.
In fact, during Game 4 of their series clincher against the Nets, the Raptors’ bench accounted for 100 of the 150 total points scored by the whole team.
Let’s not forget that they are the defending champions, and they are playing like one despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard during the offseason.
It’s hard to predict on who will win this series based on our NBA 2020 odds. So expect this one to go the distance as Brad Stevens and Nick Nurse will go head-to-head in what will be a fascinating chess match.
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