Good morning, folks. The Heat sweep and the Lakers cruise. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Miami completes its sweep of Indiana
The Miami Heat were the better team from the opening tip of Game 1 and they proved that point after completing a sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Miami took Game 4 in convincing fashion, securing a 99-87 win as they’ll move on to face (most likely) the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. Heat center Bam Adebayo is already looking forward to that matchup after he dropped 14 points, 19 rebounds, and six assist in the win on Monday.
”One hundred percent I think we can get to another gear,” Adebayo said after the game. ”And that’s everybody here. This next series might be different. We might need to have different schemes.”
The Pacers have been dealing with various injuries in this series, including one to the team’s star player Domantas Sabonis, who has yet to play a game in the Bubble due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Indiana guard Victor Oladipo has battled injuries throughout the series, as well, and it killed any potential bench production. Miami outscored Indiana 38-3 in bench scoring during Game 4.
Tyler Herro continues to showcase some impressive confidence during his first-ever playoff appearance. The rookie recorded 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists while shooting 7-13 from the floor and looking like a five-year veteran. It’s incredible how comfortable Herro looks, especially down the stretch in tight games. He plays his role to perfection on offense and doesn’t defer if he has an opportunity to score. The defense is still a work-in-progress, but his effort is undeniable. Miami looks like a team that could make some serious noise into the second round; a lot of that will depend on if Herro’s play keeps up going forward.
Lakers stomp Trail Blazers in the first quarter to take 3-1 series lead
The Los Angeles Lakers opened up Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 15-0 run and if you made the decision to turn the game off right then and there, you wouldn’t have missed anything other than LeBron James chucking–and hitting–40-footers just because he could. The top-seeded Lakers poured in on the obviously worn out Blazers squad, who have essentially been in playoff mode since they arrived in the Orlando Bubble several weeks ago. L.A. ended up securing an easy 135-115 victory. They lead 80-51 at the intermission and let the bench units pile it on from there.
Anthony Davis’ services were only needed for 17 minutes and he still managed to post 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two blocks while shooting 5-8 from the floor. LeBron added 30 points and 10 dimes for the Lakers on what was a significant day for the franchise. Monday was August 24th, otherwise known as 8/24 or “Kobe Day”, meant to honor the two numbers Kobe Bryant wore on his jersey throughout his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers. Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash back in January, would have turned 42 on Sunday. During the first quarter of the Lakers-Blazers game, Bryant sent a subtle message to everyone on the floor and watching at home.
LeBron after the game the Lakers had dedicated to Kobe Bryant : "When I looked up and saw we were up 24-8, I was like, okay, he's here in the building. It’s a beautiful, beautiful night for our franchise and something we will always remember – this moment.” pic.twitter.com/Q4AekQHNjP
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) August 25, 2020
This is the type of stuff you typically only see in movies.
Other notes from the Bubble
Over the weekend, a Black man by the name of Jacob Blake from Kenosha, Wisconsin was shot in the back several times by a police officer as Blake’s three children watched from the back seat of his car. The entire incident was caught on film and was another reminder of the way police treat people of color in this country. Officers were reportedly responding to a domestic violence incident that did include Blake, and as he was about to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle–with his children inside–police shot him directly in the back. Blake is currently in the hospital in stable condition.
For players currently in the NBA Bubble, reactions to the news were met with heavy hearts and justified anger. These athletes came to Orlando to play basketball, but on the condition that they can use the platform to speak out against racial injustices, exactly like the situation with Kenosha police and Jacob Blake. Several players were asked for their thoughts on the act of police violence and most responded with dejection. Milwaukee Bucks point guard George Hill spoke to the media following his team’s Game 4 win over the Orlando Magic, expressing his thoughts about how they [the NBA] shouldn’t even playing right now.
“We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill said Monday. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
“It’s just sickening. It’s heartless. It’s a f—ed up situation,” Hill said. “Like I said, you’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now, it’s looked at harass or shoot.
“To almost take a guy’s life, thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him. But to almost take a man’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.” [Yahoo! Sports]
Lakers star LeBron James was asked about the events after his Game 4 win, saying that “We are scared as Black people” after hearing about the shooting. No matter a person’s track record, they should never EVER be shot multiple times in front of their children. Police are meant to deescalate situations and protect the public. In this instance, and many others we have witnessed live on camera, the police did the exact opposite of that.
Coming to the Bubble, one of the main concerns was how these athletes could realistically make an actual, physical change in society while stuck in a confined space for up to four months. Unfortunately, that answer is becoming more and more clear: they can’t. Conversations in the postgame press conference and social media posts can help bring awareness, but not much more in the grand scheme of things. This is the awkwardness of playing inside the Bubble. There is clear frustration in the voices of these athletes that is exemplified even more by the fact that they can’t leave to go help solve the issues. Basically, they’re stuck.
There is inequalities and injustices that carry HARSH punishments for people of color !! I watched a man get shot 7 times in front of his children they will never be able to unsee what they just saw every nerve in my body is on fire
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) August 25, 2020
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 24, 2020
ARREST THE COPS THAT TRIED TO KILL JACOB BLAKE https://t.co/mQyQ8Mgdl0
— kuz (@kylekuzma) August 25, 2020
For me personally, this entire situation makes my blood boil. No one is winning under these circumstances, not even the teams moving onto the second round of the playoffs. People are still dying for no reason and there are zero signs that indicate it will slow down anytime soon. It’s frustrating, discouraging, and frightening. Basketball is back, but at what cost? What will it actually take for a human life to finally outweigh the monetized aspects of our society? Should the players have gone through with the Bubble? I honestly don’t know where to even begin answering these questions and I think that is what makes this all the more upsetting.
I’m tired… Be kind.
Series standings from Monday
(1) Bucks lead (8) Magic 3-1
(5) Heat sweep (4) Pacers 4-0
(1) Lakers lead (8) Trail Blazers 3-1
(4) Rockets tied with (5) Thunder 2-2
|Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)||117-114 W vs. HOU||18||7-17 (2-5)||12||6||0||0||1||-1||43|
|Anthony Davis (LAL)||135-115 W @ POR||18||5-8 (0-1)||5||5||1||2||0||+37||17|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||99-87 W vs. IND||16||7-13 (1-3)||5||4||0||1||1||+8||32|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||99-87 W vs. IND||14||6-16 (0-0)||19||6||1||1||6||+5||36|
|Wenyen Gabriel (POR)||115-135 L vs. LAL||10||4-5 (1-1)||2||0||2||0||2||+5||12|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||121-106 W @ ORL||6||3-11 (0-2)||6||5||1||1||1||-16||23|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||117-114 W vs. HOU||6||2-3 (0-0)||5||1||0||0||0||+9||15|
|Rajon Rondo (LAL)||135-115 W @ POR||DNP-Thumb||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||117-114 W vs. HOU||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE BUBBLE
6:30 (TNT): Jazz @ Nuggets (Murray) [UTA leads 3-1]
9:00 (TNT): Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist) @ Clippers (Patterson) [Series tied 2-2]