NBA Playoffs -- Game 3 Previews

Basketball Aug 21, 2020

"NBA in the Bubble" has brought on some odd phenomena already, with teams bombing from deep more now than during the three-crazy regular season, TJ (Warren) turning into MJ, and Paul George thinking he has the clutch cred to challenge Dame Lillard.

So it’s hard to know what to expect as the series proceed, but here’s a hunch….

Typically, when teams fall behind 2-0, they find faith and energy in the knowledge that they will be returning to play in front of supporting home crowds so it’s common for the series to flip.  Now, though, there are no home crowds to return to.  Just another game against an annoying rival, while being stuck in a bubble away from friends, family and other, um, associates.

So, I bet some teams fold easier if it seems hopeless, just to get out of quarantine.

Which of the two Friday series that are 2-0 are likely get extended?

76ers (0) vs. Celtics (2):

Well, as they say on those Mountain Dew commercials, Joel Embiid is not happy. The 76ers oft-injured center, playing without his sort-of-star-sidekick Ben Simmons hasn’t been enough on his own to beat a more connected, deeper Celtics squad. He’s averaging 30 points and 13.5 rebounds, but it’s not sufficient when maxed-out Tobias Harris is shooting under 35 percent, Al Horford seems not to know where to fit on the floor and Alec Burks has crashed to Earth after being a nice Bubble surprise.

Yes, the Celtics lost Gordon Hayward, but he’s always been more supplementary than necessary if the two young wings are playing well, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are averaging 57 points on 53 percent shooting.

But here’s the biggest thing: it’s clear that the Process (we call it the Process-pool) is heading back to the start. Brett Brown won’t make it to December, and the 76ers appear ready to head home.

Chances of this series being a Bubble Wrap: 95 percent. Celtics win Game 3 and almost certainly sweep in 4.

Brooklyn Nets (0) vs. Toronto Raptors (2)

The Nets have been one of the better under-the-radar stories in the Bubble, playing hard and at times well when they have no reason to, without four of the top six players on their roster.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has been a revelation and Joe Harris has been consistently lethal and that’s been enough to keep the Nets competitive even when Caris LeVert has struggled. The Nets have had no answers for Fred Van Vleet (27.5 ppg) who is All-Bubble second team right now and carrying the Raptors as Pascal Siakam continues to shoot poorly.

Can the Nets win this series? No. But they’re not quitting. They’ve shown that. Many are playing for the right to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving next season, when the Nets, if healthy, should contend. And Jacque Vaughn still has an outside job at the main job.

Chances of this series being a Bubble Wrap: 80 percent. The Nets will get one. Maybe Game 3 if LeVert gets going.


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