Once again, the NBA has no positive Covid-19 tests which means Adam Silver is smarter than just about everyone else. Silver knew the only way to contain the virus was to isolate players away from a lot of clueless people walking around and not wearing a mask. Or, walking around after having partied the night before with 200 people. Or, walking around coughing on people because it sounds like its funny to infect someone so they can, you know, die.
The bubble has done exactly what Adam Silver knew it would. It has kept NBA players safe while the league is restarting. It has kept alive the possibility that their might be a title somewhere down the line but no parade for whoever is the champion. Right now, that feels a long way off. We still don’t know who is going to be the West’s 8th seed. But so far, things are looking up after an atrocious spring of canceled games.
The Best of the Bubble:
Anthony Davis. If the Lakers win a title, it will happen because Anthony Davis is the Lakers best player and is carrying them on his back. If the Lakers don’t win a title, it will be because Anthony Davis couldn’t get it done. He’s known for disappearing every now and then and for deferring to LeBron. The Bubble didn’t need to anoint Anthony Davis but the eye test is the eye test. He dropped 40 like he was taking a breath of fresh air. No one matches up when Anthony Davis is taking the game over. 30 ppg. 46% 3-pointers.
Luka Doncic. No one will blame you if you forgot Luka’s game during the shutdown. But he is here to remind you he’s going to cause heartache and heartbreak. For every team who thinks a) they can guard him, b) they can stop him, c) they can intimidate him, lay off the juicy juice. I heard someone say that Brandon Ingram should be Most Improved Player and I thought, well damn, someone must have tossed acid in your eyes. What Luka has done in his second season is mind-boggling. Luka is the best player on the Mavs and a top-10 player and he hasn’t played in the postseason yet. His skill is versatile and dominant. He scores, rebounds, passes. He is a monster. An MVP or two or three is coming. Dude had 20 rebounds and 34 points in his last game. His 3-ball hasn’t been live in the bubble but everything else has. 34 ppg. 11 assists. 13 rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony. It’s a lot of fun to bring out the dusty Melo jokes and to talk about all the things Melo can’t do but skinny Melo in the bubble is looking nice. In the absence of Trevor Ariza who had to opt-out for family reasons, Melo is doing the pressure thing pretty good. The Blazers have a full complement of bigs and at just the right time. They are in a slugfest with San Antonio (and others) to get into an 8th seed play-in game. Memphis will probably drop now that Jaren Jackson Jr. is done. That ratchets up the pressure even more, and the Melo big-time shots, something his career is based on are dropping into the net. This is the perfect scenario for Melo. Play off of Dame. Drill open j’s. Get the W. 16.3 ppg. 50% 3-pointers.
Devin Booker. If any NBA player has Bubble MVP written all over him, it is Devin Booker. The bubble-like culture is the perfect setup for the dynamic scorer. In limited games, Booker is showing why he’s a dominant scorer and clutch shot-maker, i.e. game-winner vs the Clippers. Although Phoenix is a long shot to get a turn at the play in 8th seed scrum, Booker is helping the case. The Suns are 3-0 in the bubble. Booker is destroying the rims. Someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder, Booker is even more dialed in. He is very, very scary. And this just in: no one can guard him. Not Kawhi. Not PG-13. 30.6 ppg.
Kyle Lowry. No other NBA point guard has been asked to do so many things in so many different years. This season, Lowry has to lead the Raptors in scoring, intensity, and organization. Last year, he deferred to Kawhi Leonard and was more of a playmaker. The year before, ditto. Except DeMar DeRozan was the Raptors go-to-player. Lowry is back doing what only Lowry can do with his fierceness, edginess, and skill. Carrying the Raptors back to the Finals with a repeat championship on his mind. 23.5 ppg. 11 reb. 54% 3-pointers.
The Bubble Itself. Whether it’s Kyle Kuzma’s girlfriend sending him birthday wishes via a plane in the sky or Lou Will’s Magic City wings or Jimmy Butler changing jerseys or Jonathan Issac not kneeling or Devin Booker’s game-winner or Houston’s atrocious rebounding, the bubble hasn’t failed to entertain, enlighten and make us forget these are the dog days of Covid-19.
The Worst of the Bubble:
Jaren Jackson Jr.’s Knee. It was all supposed to go according to plan. Memphis was going to hold serve. Ja Morant was going to one-up Zion Williamson and meet the Lakers in the playoffs and Jaren Jackson Jr. would finally get his closeup. He’s having a breakout second season: 17.4 points, 39% on threes. His bubble was shattered with a meniscus tear. Sure, he’ll be back for an even better third season but I was wanting him in the playoffs against the Lakers because he would have to guard Anthony Davis.
Jonathan Issac’s Knee. Issac could miss up to a year and probably should miss up to a year even if the prognosis is a 6-8 month recovery. Because he has experienced previous knee issues, the Magic need to tread very carefully with Issac and his ripped ACL. It’s a shame that the injury happened, and the timing was brutal. Issac not kneeling with the rest of the NBA, the lone dissenter of the Black Lives Matter-NBA tribe, gave Issac a cause. His defiance would have been a storyline all the way to the end. Now it’s squashed. However, Orlando will be in the playoffs without him.
Virtual Fans. It’s as good an idea as they can muster up with all their tech geniuses but zoom fans don’t replace the real thing. Nice moment when Lil Chris was able to wave to his dad but the bubble makes very, very clear how integral NBA fans are to the product. This is C-.
Rockets Rebounding: Can someone like block out, jump, and grab a board? I don’t want to hear about being too small. There was a player by the name of Charles Barkley who was 6-6 and grabbed 12 rebounds a game. Kyle Lowry is six feet and is pulling down 11 rebounds in the bubble. Have heart. Please. The End.
Conspiracy Theories: Dwight Howard’s anti-vaxxer pride and Michael Porter mass annihilation theory and those in the bubble not wearing masks. Stop it. Science is organized knowledge. Where is yours?