Good morning, folks. I’m going to stop pretending that anything about this league is predictable right now. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
1-seeds upset in Game 1
Tuesday wasn’t a good day to be the top seed of your respective conference: both the Los Angles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks lost its opening-round matchups to eight-seeds, in rather embarrassing fashion I should add. Let’s start with the Bucks falling to the Orlando Magic by a final score of 122-110. And when I say “falling”, I really mean utterly destroyed and dominated. The Magic controlled this game from practically the opening tip, made life hell for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and watched as its star player Nikola Vucevic dropped a playoff-career high 35 points. It was a dream start for a hometown Magic team that many–myself included–predicted to bow out via broom and dustpan.
Orlando was short-handed, too, playing without key contributors Aaron Gordon (hamstring), Michael Carter-Williams (foot), and Jonathan Isaac (knee), while second-leading scorer Evan Fournier didn’t hit his first bucket until late in the fourth quarter. Despite all of this, they held Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and prevented the reigning MVP from connecting on a field goal over the final 11 minutes of in-game action.
What was most concerning had to be the less-than-ideal outing from Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe, whose postseason malfeasances have been well-documented over the last two seasons. In Game 1, the former Wildcat posted 15 points and five assists on 5-11 shooting, but was inconsistent on both ends of the floor throughout the game.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, it was a similar story to that of the Bucks. Against the Portland Damian Lillards, Anthony Davis struggled heavily, shooting just 8-24 from the field and missing all five of his shots from deep. He still finished with 28 points thanks to a 12-17 mark from the free-throw line but was forcing bad, long-range shots on offense and looking generally out of rhythm.
Wenyen Gabriel received the surprise start for the Blazers despite playing in just two seeding games. He filled in for the injured Zach Collins and provided enough energy on the court for all 10 players. He ended up playing 15 minutes and was tasked with guarding Anthony Davis early on, performing well within his role. Gabriel finished with four points, three rebounds, and three assists. He picked up four fouls before the first-half could even end.
Both the Lakers and Bucks went 3-5 during the eight seeding games, and that poor play appears to have spilled over into the playoffs through one outing. While it’s not anything I would get too hyped up over, the Bubble atmosphere has proven that anything is possible right now. Homecourt advantage is not real and the lower-seeds are abusing it.
I would like to point out that, last season, the Orlando Magic beat the Toronto Raptors (the eventual NBA Champions) in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs before ultimately losing the next four in a row. So I’m not saying there’s a precedence for Milwaukee to make a Finals run, but I’m also not not saying that.
Rockets trounce Thunder without Westbrook, Heat runs over Pacers down the stretch
Even without Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets managed to secure a 123-108 Game 1 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. James Harden poured in 37 points for Houston as his squad cruised to an easy win that was never in doubt from the second-quarter on. The Rockets led by 16 at the half and 20-plus throughout the final period.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s second-ever playoff round didn’t exactly get off to a hot start for the Thunder, as he shot 2-8 from the field to make up his nine points and four rebounds. In fact, it was a struggle across the board for former Kentucky players, as Hamidou Diallo shot 2-6 in 16 minutes while Nerlens Noel added just two points and one rebound in his seven minutes.
However, the two BBNBA-ers from the Miami Heat, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, were shining lights in their Game 1 outings. In Herro’s playoff debut, the sharpshooter dropped 15 points on 5-9 shooting. For Adebayo, this is his second playoff appearance, and he contributed an efficient 17 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists as Miami broke away down the stretch against the Indiana Pacers for a 113-101 win.
Other notes from the Bubble
- Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo (broken thumb) is inside the Bubble but did not play in Game 1 against the Blazers. His status moving forward is considered day-to-day.
- The Delete Eight is getting its own mini-Bubble.
(8) Magic lead (1) Bucks 1-0
(4) Heat lead (5) Pacers 1-0
(8) Trail Blazers lead (1) Lakers 1-0
(4) Rockets lead (5) Thunder 1-0
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||93-101 L vs. POR||28||8-24 (0-5)||11||1||2||2||1||-20||39|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||113-101 W vs. IND||17||7-14 (0-0)||10||6||0||3||0||+23||34|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||110-122 L vs. ORL||15||5-11 (1-5)||2||5||1||1||2||-8||27|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||113-101 W vs. IND||15||5-9 (1-5)||3||4||1||0||2||+6||33|
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||108-123 L vs. HOU||9||2-8 (1-3)||4||1||0||1||1||-3||35|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||108-123 L vs. HOU||7||2-6 (1-4)||3||1||0||0||1||-6||14|
|Wenyen Gabriel (POR)||100-93 W @ LAL||4||2-2 (0-0)||3||3||0||1||0||+12||15|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||108-123 L vs. HOU||2||1-3 (0-0)||1||0||0||1||0||-11||7|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||93-101 L vs. POR||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE BUBBLE
1:30 (NBA TV): Nets @ Raptors
4:00 (TNT): Jazz @ Nuggets (Murray)
6:30 (TNT): 76ers @ Celtics (Kanter)
9:00 (TNT): Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist) @ Clippers (Patterson)