The Good, the Bad and the Machine: Divide the Bubble Prizes

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After 16 days full of basketball in hours we did not know and a format we did not imagine, you can say with a big smile on your face – the first part of the “bubble” passed successfully. The Orlando basketball party opened with a storm with a winning basket by LeBron James in the LA Derby, which immediately whetted the whole world’s appetite. At the tasting stage, Luca Doncic handed out some food between the legs and Philadelphia ate the heart as soon as Ben Simmons was injured. Then TJ Warren made quite a bit of noise, Kwai Leonard kept a low profile and Yannis Antecompo made signs that this time he would stay until the end of the party, unlike Zion Williamson who cut early. And while Toronto kept out of the club, on the dance floor starred Damian Lillard who managed not to be blinded by the perfect Phoenix.

So just before we move on to the second part of the party – the “Play In” tournament, it’s time to hand out the magnets, and the prizes. Receive the bubble awards: the MVP, the top five, the disappointing team and more.

MVP: Damien Lillard
After the last three games it was really impossible to give that title to anyone else: 51 points, 61 points and 42 points in the decisive game that set Portland in eighth place. Lillard has averaged 37.6 points and 9.6 assists per game in the past two weeks, while dragging his team with his own hands to the playoffs. Besides, Brooklyn brought on him double help before he went through the half, shouldn’t that automatically settle this debate?


Coach: Monty Williams (Phoenix Suns)
How did they say on the Phoenix Twitter page? “We don’t see the chances, all we see is an opportunity.” Well, according to all predictions two weeks ago, the Suns’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs were below 1%. But that did not interest the team of Monty Williams, who did the unbelievable, finished the bubble with a 0: 8 balance and was one successful shot away Of Chris Labert from the play-in. Even if Phoenix had lost all of its games, chances are Williams would have gotten the title from us, just for that amazing speech in front of you.

Rookie: Michael Porter Jr.

Porter Jr. finally showed us why the word “potential” stuck to his name from the second Denver took the ‘risk’ and selected him in the 2018 draft. The rookie received credit from Mike Mellon and returned on the field with 22 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Note the percentages: 55% from the field and 42% from outside the arc.

The Improving Actor: TJ Warren

One of the amazing stories of the bubble. The Indiana forward has always been a scorer (19.8 points per game this season), but at Disney World he got super powers. Warren scored 31 points per game on 58 percent from the field and 52 percent for three, while in the Pacers’ first game he bombed 53. In a meeting against LeBron James and the Lakers, he finished with 39 points and a crucial three in the closing seconds that ensured an impressive victory.

Sixth Actor: Gary Trent Jr.

If Warren had not been in the bubble, it is likely that the title of improving player would also have gone to Portland’s 21-year-old guard, but he will have to settle for the sixth player. In the Blazers’ last game before the Corona Break, Trent Jr. played 18 minutes and scored 0 points (0 of 5 from the field). In 13 games he is not a partner at all, and in those that is, he scored 7.7 points per game. In Orlando he became Terry Stotes’ secret weapon off the bench, bouncing his points average to 16.9 per game. Trent Jr. is the player who scored the most threes in the bubble (34 in 50%) after teammate Damian Lillard (44). Next in line, by the way, is Buddy the Boy with only 27.

Defensive Player: Mark Gasol

In the last two weeks we have had mostly spectacular * offensive displays *, with amazing baskets and high percentages that testify to the level of talent of the NBA players. And it does not matter if your name is Damien Lillard or Jabon Carter.

* Toronto does not agree with this statement. The Raptors won seven of eight games in a bubble, and they did it a lot thanks to their defense. There are not many groups that can say this sentence, not the first part and certainly not the second. The champion has the best defensive index in the bubble, much thanks to her anchor Mark Gasol, who brings a lot of fighting spirit and winemaking, just like he did in Memphis.

The Surprising Team: The Brooklyn Nets

There’s really no doubt here that the real answer is Phoenix, but we’ve already talked about the Suns in the context of Monty Williams who easily got us the title of bubble coach, so let’s talk a little bit about Jacques Won and the Hunts. Without Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Diandra Jordan, Torian Prince and of course Kevin Durant – Brooklyn should not have reached the playoffs after five wins in eight games, losing the last game to Portland 134: 133. But with a lot of heart and hunger from young players, the Nets have proven that Durant and Kyrie are waiting for a great assisting team next season.

The Disappointing Team: The New Orleans Pelicans

Everything was ready for the battle between LeBron James and Zion in the first round. The game board was in favor of New Orleans, the betting agencies believed in them and even the NBA came up with the idea of ​​a “play in” that was supposed to increase the Pelicans’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs. What actually happened? New Orleans finished the bubble with a 6-2 record, much because it just didn’t keep up. After defeating Memphis and making signs of coming back to life, the Pelicans met Sacramento for a game they had to win, absorbing 140 points. It pretty much tells the story. Add to that Zayon, who a month before the bubble testified that he was in excellent physical condition, and in the bubble – although he provided output on offense, but looked heavier than ever, played under a minute limit and failed to keep anyone (did not snatch or block once in Orlando). Lonzo Ball’s weak ability also did not help New Orleans evade that title.

Top five: Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Luca Doncic, TJ Warren and Yannis Antecompo.

The top five: James Harden, Kwai Leonard, Michael Porter Jr., Kristaps Forzingis and Nikola Jukic.

The top five: Chris Paul, Chris Lavbert, Damar Druzen, Brock Lopez and Joseph Norkich.

Notable:

Bull Bull The viral hit of the bubble. We did not really know him before, and we certainly did not know how he would fare in the NBA, but Denver’s young chin / forward (!) Provided some moves we had never seen a player in his dimensions.

* The Boston Trio – The Celtics’ forward trio looks amazing. Jason Titum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward showed great ability in the bubble, but if we replace Howard with Kamba Walker for a moment, it looks like Boston has also made history. Boston became the first team in the East since Philadelphia in 1984 to finish a season with three players averaging 20 points or more per game (Walker, Brown and Taitum).

* Carmelo Anthony – At 36, “Melo” came in great shape for the bubble, scoring 16.5 points per game, providing some crucial baskets and on the way rising to 15th place on the all-time scoring list. Will we get a Carmelo duel against LeBron in the first round?

* Rudy Guber – The French chin did not do anything out of the ordinary, but it is important to mention that Guber, the man who took the league to the Corona break, was the one who scored the first points in the return game and added two free throws that won the return game. how not.

The move of the bubble: Devin Booker’s basket of victory against the Clippers

The resemblance to Kobi, the level of difficulty, the narrative, the lying down. A basket that will be remembered for many years to come.

And finally, before the official bubble awards are handed out, and before Portland and Memphis give us a sense of Game 7 of the NBA Finals – it’s time to say thank you to the true MVP of all this: Adam Silver. While the entire world is on fire, and Florida already has over 563,000 Corona cases, the commissioner of the best league in the world has managed to make the bubble the safest place in the world. A score of 10/10 in management and leadership. Only Health.

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