Virtual fans, artificial crowd noise, and distanced broadcasters. The NBA playoffs in the bubble is definitely in full swing.
The Conference Semifinals are currently underway in the bubble after nearly five weeks of regular season and playoff games. In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors are battling for the championship. In the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and Houston Rockets, are battling for the championship.
As the playoffs move further and further along, certain players are stepping up to give their teams a season-saving push to end this usually concluding season.
Denver’s Jamal Murray might be the star of the bubble thus far. The 23-year-old Murray has averaged 32 points per game through the first two rounds of the playoffs. He will have to continue to be an energizing offensive presence to get past a very defensively talented Clipper team.
Jimmy Butler has been a massive offensive force for the Miami Heat during the playoffs. He has averaged 22 points in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Butler will need to continue to be an outspoken team leader on a squad of young Heat stars if they want to defeat the first-seeded Bucks and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Jayson Tatum has averaged 27 points and nine rebounds during the first and second rounds of the playoffs. Tatum’s performance against the Philadelphia 76ers helped the Celtics pull off a dominant sweep, and his shooting, along with Kemba Walker’s hot hand, will be needed to overcome the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
James Harden and his Houston Rockets are coming off a long, seven-game battle against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets barely edged out a victory, and Harden finished the series with 30 points and 7.4 assists. Harden, the 2018 MVP, is searching for his first Western Conference title, but first, he must defeat Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.