And we’re back for the third installment of this deep dive into the 2020 NBA Playoffs, if they were to adopt at 1-16 bracket. Last week we covered the semi-final round and if you missed that or the previous week, I suggest you check them out here. Another thing to note is that due to recent spikes in COVID-19, some players I mention may not participate or be available to for their team. That is, if we even get basketball at all. Think of this as more of a fantasy at this point, as things are sure to change. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun though, and take a look at how things COULD be. And with that said, lets jump into where we left off.
Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (4): This series is tough. Before I really looked into it, I went back and forth on who I thought would win. And honestly, if you’d have asked me last week, I’d have told you the Clippers. After the run Kawhi had last year, he’s just so intimidating. Add Paul George and TWO 6th Man of the Year candidates off their bench (Montrez Harrell and Lou Williams) and you could, like many have, make a case for them to beat anyone. However, Milwaukee matches up so well against them.
In two meetings against one another this season the Bucks are 2-0. This includes a 129-119 victory in which both Leonard and George sat out, and a dominating 119-91 blowout that saw both teams at full strength. In that game, Giannis put up 27 points in 26 minutes (he only played two minutes more than half the game, lol) and almost outscored Kawhi and George who combined for only 30. Harrell and Williams – as good as they are off the bench – combined for 22 points on 40% shooting, each scoring 11. Meanwhile Milwaukee’s bench scored 50 and the other starters played well.
This team is efficient, has incredible chemistry, and can comfortably play 13 players. They’re deep and they present just the kind of matchup that can take down a team like the Clippers. Don’t get me wrong, this will be a long series filled with plenty of close games. Kawhi and PG will both put up their numbers. Lou Will and Harrell will show why they’re arguably the best duo off the bench for any team. But look for the Bucks to come out on top. Also, look for Giannis to make a statement that he is (at this moment) the best player in the NBA. I’m taking the Bucks in 7.
Los Angeles Lakers (2) vs. Denver Nuggets (6): The Nuggets are very good. They have a plethora of young talent, good coaching, and arguably the best center in the league. But they are not the Lakers. When the two teams faced each other for their only meeting on February 12th, it was a close game that saw Nikola Jokic flirt with a triple double and Jamal Murray put up 32. Denver even scored 4 unanswered points in the last minute to force overtime. But ultimately, Lebron posted a triple double with 32 points of his own and 14 assists and Anthony Davis adding 33 and 10 rebounds. The duo took control in overtime for the win 120-116.
Thats about what you can expect from this series. Anthony Davis will fluster Jokic throughout while putting up monster numbers. Lebron will facilitate the offense and lead the team in ways that only he can, and the Lakers will come out on top. Look for the Nuggets to play great team basketball and steal a couple games in Denver, but ultimately fall short. This is a superstar driven league. Lebron, AD, and their supporting cast will understandably prove to be too much for the leaner Jokic, Jamal Murray and company. Lakers in 6.
Come back next week for the conclusion and my pick for who will be crowned 2020 Finals champions.
–Nick Hannigan (Twitter: @TheNickHannigan)