2020-2021 NBA Playoffs


Jastej Singh, Staff Writer

The NBA Playoffs, the best time of the year for basketball fans. It’s the peak competition for the sport of basketball and some of the greatest athletes on the planet try to go at each other’s necks with all they have. The playoffs this year are strange but this might not be a bad thing for the sport. 

Coming into this season everything was kept on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the season before ended extremely late -in mid-October – with the Los Ángeles Lakers winning the championship. The start of this season was especially odd due to the empty arenas across the NBA which was affecting many teams’ home records. The home teams didn’t have much of an advantage at home and empty arenas had players looking to their teammates on the bench to cheer them on as if they were the fans. 

Also affecting the start of the season were the many blockbuster trades that took place before it began such as the Russell Westbrook/John Wall trade, which sent Westbrook to the Washington Wizards and Wall to the Rockets. There were many other trades as well but the most polarizing one was the James Harden trade to the Brooklyn Nets creating a big 3 of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Harden. After this blockbuster trade, the Nets became immediate frontrunners to win the championship due to the unstoppable scoring trio that was just created. Durant and Harden, two of the greatest scorers to EVER play the game of basketball and, the electrifying Irving who came off an incredible 27 points per game average, a new career-high for him. This had teams around the league worried because this big 3 could be unstoppable. 

However, although this team looked unstoppable, the only thing keeping them from ever being able to play to their best was injuries. The big 3 of the Nets only played 8 games together during the regular season and many questioned what would happen in the playoffs when they were set to finally play together consistently. The injuries caused the Nets to settle for the number 2 seed as the 1 seed in the East was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers who got a  dominant season from MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who averaged 29 points and 10 rebounds per game during the regular season. The 3rd seed was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis having another amazing season in leading the Bucks, who many believe are the only team in the East that has a chance to beat the Nets in the playoffs. 

In the West the reigning champs found themselves struggling in the regular season mainly due to their two best players, Lebron James and Anthony Davis, being injured for an extended period of time. Those injuries dropped the Lakers to the 7th seed while the Utah Jazz locked down the 1st seed, the Phoenix Suns took the 2nd seed, the Denver Nuggets the 3rd seed, and the Los Ángeles Clippers the 4th seed. 

Once the playoffs got started, though, every team looked to make a statement. As the playoffs got going the Nets big 3 seemed unstoppable in beating the Celtics in the first round in five games in a best of seven series. The Bucks swept the Heat and the Sixers beat the Wizards in five games to move on to the semifinals. 

In the West, the Lakers are out and just couldn’t find a way to beat Phoenix mostly due to injuries and poor shooting. The Clippers found themselves in a similar situation to the Lakers being down two games to three to the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic who was absolutely torching the Clippers. However, with Kawhi Leonard leading the comeback, they managed to take the series in seven games. The Nuggets took down Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers in six games – even after Lillard’s historic 55 point performance in game 5. Lastly, the Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies in five games.

As I watch the playoffs, I am realizing that there is no team that has a chance at actually beating the Nets in a seven-game series. I personally believe that Kevin Durant is playing like the best basketball player in the world by dropping 35+ points each game and seems to do so effortlessly as well because he doesn’t miss many shots either. His long 7-foot frame makes it impossible to contest his jump shot which is always pure from everywhere on the court. Also, James Harden may be the most important part of that team because of his ability to get the other role players involved. He doesn’t always need to score either but when he does he can fill up the stat sheet which was evidenced by his 34 point triple-double in round 1. The Nets are too good on offense for someone to outscore them four times in a seven-game series so I believe there is no one that can actually beat them. But I hope I am wrong. 

Anthony Davis seems to have an injury every game and it seems he is truly made out of glass while the aging Lebron James also doesn’t seem 100% while his teammates can’t make open shots to save their lives. Even though the Lakers have the best defense in the playoffs they balance that off with the worst offense in the halfcourt game due to their inability to make any kind of basket. 

Now for the Clippers, they started out the series playing horrific defense against the Mavericks while Luka destroyed them by scoring 40 almost every game and getting triple-doubles almost every game as well. The Clippers ended up winning two games in a row to tie the series but Mavericks won game 5 to take a 3-2 lead heading back to Dallas where Kawhi dropped a sensational 45 point performance leading to their victory in game 7 over the Mavericks sending the Clippers into round 2 of the playoffs to square off against the 1 seed Utah Jazz where I believe the Clippers will win in 6 or 7 games once again. The Clippers will face the Suns in the Western Conference Finals where the Suns will win in 6 games sending them to the Finals for the first time in 28 years. The big 3 of the Nets will face off against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and DeAndre Ayton of the Suns but the 3-headed monster in Brooklyn will be too much for the Sun’s defense as the Nets will win in 5 or 6 games.