We the North are defending champs
While the NBA is playing during an unusual time of year, it seems that most people have forgotten that the Toronto Raptors are the defending champions.
Of course, this is due to the fact that their star player last season, Kawhi Leonard is now a Los Angele Clipper. Toronto finished second place in the East with a 53-19 record.
Their bubble play ended with a four-game win streak. Some of their bubble wins happened against the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks( without Giannis Antetokounmpo).
Despite losing Leonard, the Raptors were able to finish 2nd in defensive rating overall in the league. This clearly shows that no drop off of defense for the defending champs has kept them among the top-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn will have to go hard
On the other hand, the Brooklyn Nets are coming into the NBA Bubble as one of the most depleted teams. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan are three of Brooklyn’s top players who are not in Orlando.
Furthermore, the expectation for Brooklyn was to just hold on enough to the 7th seed and they did just that. Posting a 5-3 record in the bubble is more than impressive for a group of young hopeful players.
Caris LeVert played in six games for the Nets in their seeding games. He averaged 25 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, and shot 48 percent from the field.
Some of the Nets other young players that will show some fight are Jarrett Allen, Garrett Temple, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Brooklyn tried to add veteran leadership coming into the bubble by adding Jamal Crawford. However, Crawford suffered a hamstring injury in the Nets’ first seeding game. No update on his immediate availability has been given.
Back to the north for Brooklyn
While Brooklyn’s young and motivated team has shown signs not to give up easily, there is no answer for Pascal Siakam. I’m a fan of experience in these early first-round match ups and the defending champions have appeared as good as they were in the regular season.
Kyle Lowry is playing arguable some of the best basketball this year averaging 19.4 points per game, rebounds per game, and 7.5 assists per game. All career-highs this year alone.
The Nets could make this series a little more hard-fought-for Toronto but the deal gets closed in four games still. my series prediction? Bring out the brooms and bet on the Toronto Raptors in 4 games.
(2) Raptors vs (7) Nets East First Round Schedule
|Game 1||BKN @ TOR||ESPN||8/17/20 | 4:00 PM EST|
|Game 2||BKN @ TOR||NBA TV||8/19/20 |1:30 PM EST|
|Game 3||TOR @ BKN||NBA TV||8/21/20 | 1:30 PM EST|
|Game 4||TOR @ BKN||TNT||8/23/20 | 6:30 PM EST|
|Game 5||*TBD If Needed|
|Game 6||*TBD If Needed|
|Game 7||*TBD If Needed|