2020 NBA Playoffs

The ultimate A or F.

Jim Rome
September 08, 2020 - 10:18 am
Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard

USA Today

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I’ve said it before and I will say it again, time or the passage of time is so weird right now. And here’s something else I’ve said, that I know I’ll say again: the NBA bubble is weird. Really, really, freaking weird.

To the point that even the guys in it don’t really even know what’s going on any more.   Take Brad Stevens, for example. Brad Stevens is one of the sharpest, smartest guys not just in the NBA, but on the planet. And even he has no idea who or where the hell he is.

I’m not sure what’s better, Stevens having no idea where we are in the calendar. Or someone telling him and him replying, “Wow” like it’s a complete shock to him. Ask this guy what year it is, and it’s a coin flip whether or not he gets it: and he’s the smartest guy in the room. But it’s not even his fault: bubble life probably is that weird. 

Here’s something else about the NBA bubble. I always say: give me an A or give me an F. And if there is one thing you can say about the games in the NBA bubble, they are either an A or an F.

Seriously, these are both some of the best and worst games ever. And you never really know what you’re going to get night to night. Just that it’s going to either be really good.  Or really bad. And nothing in between. 

Literally anything can happen. And has. And will. Like the Bucks, having the best record in the league, and then falling down 3-0 in their series and then losing Giannis in Game 4. That should’ve been the end of the series, but they dug deep and found a way to win. That was impressive. And a quick note on that – Giannis getting hurt, truly and absolutely sucks.

And if there is absolutely any risk at all of further damage, you cannot let him play tonight. I know he’s going to want to play and do everything he can to get on the floor, but you cannot let him do it. Because if he damages that ankle more, or jacks it up and does long-term damage, that would be so much worse than losing a playoff series. That would be truly terrible, for Giannis, for the Bucks, for the league, and everyone. The player will almost always want to play: so you have to protect the player from himself: especially THIS player. Absolutely you don’t let him go in Game 5, no matter how much heart they showed in game 4. No, I’m not a doctor: but I am a dude with a brain; and there’s no way you let this guy go in Game 5.

Speaking of truly terrible, what happened in Game 5 of the Celtics-Raptors series? That matchup gave us one of the greatest final sequences in playoff history in Game 3 and then turned in that dog last night in Game 5. After winning Game 3 in the final point five seconds and then taking game 4 by seven points, the Raptors came out last night and scored 11 points in the first quarter.

11. as in one more than ten. For an entire quarter. That’s averaging less than a point per minute. The defending champs, in the second round of the playoffs, turned in that clunker.

And yes, the credit goes to Boston for locking them up defensively, but in this era of modern basketball and open, free-flowing offenses, how is an 11 point quarter even possible? Much less from the defending champs? In a critical playoff game. 

When Jimmy  Naismith nailed a couple of peach baskets to the wall for the first time, I’m pretty sure both teams found a way to get the ball in the basket more than the Raptors did in the first quarter last night. 

You could sum up that quarter and the entire game in just one play from Jaylen Brown.

 Holy crap that was filthy. That was just a nasty dunk from Brown and a nasty night from the Raptors. If this was the kind of show where we did polls, I would hit you with this:

Which dunk from last night was filthier: Jaylen Brown against the Raptors.

Or Michael Porter Jr against the Clippers?

 

REACTION! Which dunk was nastier? Which dunk brought more funk? And then after that poll question of the day, I’d hit you with another one. It’s a Two For Tuesday poll question-a-palooza.

Now that you’ve voted on which dunk was more ridiculous, which block was more insane – LeBron James on Russell Westbrook

 

That was absolutely monstrous. Again, that is a 35 year old man absolutely erasing one of the best players in the game today. It is comedy and stupidity that he is getting up and down like that at this age and hammer the ball into the stands like that.

And in any other weekend, that is the runaway leader for best block. But not this weekend, because late last night, Kawhi Leonard did Jamal Murray like this:

 

Normally, you need a whole hand to block a shot, but not Kawhi. He just needed a finger. That was freaky as hell in real time and even freakier in slow-mo.

As Paul George said afterwards: "That's an extra-long middle finger. Like, it kept growing or something. That's Kawhi, man."

That IS Kawhi, man. And that was an absolutely essential play. LA was up six with less than two minutes to go in a pivotal playoff game.

And that was with a six point lead and less than two minutes to go in a pivotal playoff game, a playoff game that, if we’re being honest, THEY probably deserved to lose.

Which brings me to my next point – how are you feeling today Clipper fans? Are you fired up that you have a 2-1 series lead or are you confused as hell because you probably deserve to be down 2-1?

And here’s another question? Can someone tell me who, or what, the Clippers are? Seriously. I’m asking because I don’t know. Then again, how would I know if they don’t know, and at this point, I’m not sure they do: if they did, they’d play to their potential every single night; and they don’t.

They are talented as hell, we know that.  and they’re deep as hell; we know that too And they are tough as hell, or at least we all thought that, but right now, their identity seems to be that they hit the snooze button. A lot. Sometimes they wake up and sometimes they don’t. You’d have thought that dropping two games to a Dallas team missing its second best player would’ve been a wakeup call. I know I thought that.

And sure enough, the Clippers came out and dominated Game 1. And you think, all right, those are the Clippers we’ve all been waiting on: But then they go get smashed in Game 2 and were down double-digits last night. So again, who are they or what are they? Yes, they can lock you up defensively… and go on big runs, but they also no-show and can get run over just as easily. 

So does that mean they’re really good and know how to flip a switch? Or they got lucky? Because if Jamal Murray and Jerami Grant don’t go ice cold in the second half, LA loses that game and they’re down 2-1 in the series.

But instead, thanks to Kawhi and PG, they’re up 2-1. So does that mean it’s working or is it working in spite of itself? I don’t know and I’m not even sure the Clippers do either.

I could see them getting bounced for going hot and cold like this or I could see them hot-and-colding their way to an NBA title. That’s just how weird it is and how weird everything is in the bubble. Right now, bubble ball is give me an A or give me an F each night. And the Clippers are sometimes giving you an A and an F in the same night. That’s the beauty of bubble night to night: you never know what you’re going to get night to night; only that it’s going be really awesome or really crappy.