The Eastern Conference seems to have collectively decided that the playoffs don’t start till the second round, but the Western Conference continues to deliver drama in spades. Here’s our regular look at the rest of the postseason, and a reminder that clicking on each team name will take you to that SB Nation site for further coverage.
The Magic have given the Bucks a much tougher series than expected, and they’re the only underdog to have even taken a game in the East thus far, but it’s an uphill battle. Orlando can give a “phenomenal” effort, in the words of head coach Steve Clifford, but one hot fourth quarter from Khris Middleton — who had been essentially nonexistent for the first three games — is enough to put the Magic away.
The actual game itself didn’t seem to matter too much to either team, and the horrific video of police officers shooting Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin was all Milwaukee could focus on before and after the game. Bucks guard Sterling Brown is currently involved in a police brutality case in the city of Milwaukee, so this issue already resonates deeply with the Bucks. George Hill had the strongest comments about police brutality and the NBA’s role in addressing it.
Bucks guard George Hill speaks strongly about the cop shooting of African-American Jacob Blake in Milwaukee and questioned whether NBA teams should have come to the “bubble” in the midst of the social justice movement. pic.twitter.com/Z12YtI5Iep— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 24, 2020
Another West series is tied at two. It looked like the Rockets were going to take control of their first-round series after hitting their first eight threes of the second half and building a 15-point lead, but the Thunder chipped away little by little. Their three point guards (Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schröder) handled the offense while Luguentz Dort kept James Harden in check. This Schröder finish around the basket to seal the game is truly a thing of beauty.
Credit to the Pacers for coming to play in the bubble, even if they were without Domantas Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb. Nate McMillan-coached teams don’t lack for effort, but this one did lack a little talent, and it resulted in Indiana’s second straight first-round sweep. Goran Dragic appears to have made himself some money this offseason, as he seamlessly transitioned into the starting lineup and was Miami’s leading scorer and second-leading assist man in this round.
The Lakers went up 15-0 before the Blazers cracked the scoreboard, leading by double digits the rest of the way, and look far removed from the team that was listless offensively in the Game 1 loss. L.A. celebrated Mamba Day in appropriate fashion, donning the Black Mamba jerseys that Kobe Bryant helped design with a patch commemorating his daughter Gianna. At one point in the first quarter, the Lakers were even up 24-8. LeBron James was outstanding once more, and this series finally looks like a traditional 1-8 matchup.
Today’s Playoff Games
More news for Tuesday:
- Glen Taylor might be selling the Timberwolves to a minority of the Memphis Grizzlies. Somehow, this makes me feel like Dave Joerger might soon be back as a head coach.
- More on the coaching carousel: Brett Brown is out in Philadelphia, and Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Sixers and Tyronn Lue have mutual interest in Lue as the next head coach.
- The Athletic reports that the Nets are still interested in Lue, provided their top choice of Gregg Popovich falls through.
- The Athletic also dove into what exactly is going on with NBA ratings.
- Kyle Goon has the story of how the Morris brothers are enjoying a rare perk of having family in the bubble.
- The NBA is working to ensure that “road teams” don’t hear their favorite songs from the in-arena DJs in Orlando.
- Kevin O’Connor is all over the renaissance of former Clipper Jeff Green, now with the Rockets.
- Mirin Fader tracked down some athletes who opted out of playing this season, including former Clipper Wilson Chandler.
- Louis Keene laments the loss of the underdog Clippers.