Bucks, Clippers’ title hopes burst in the bubble

Senior+Peter+Montavon+watches+in+distress+as+his+beloved+Boston+Celtics+struggle+in+overtime+versus+the+Miami+Heat.+Fans+of+NBA+teams+making+deep+playoff+runs+felt+every+bit+of+the+tension+despite+the+abnormal+circumstances+due+to+the+COVID-19+pandemic.

Courtesy of Peter Montavon

Senior Peter Montavon watches in distress as his beloved Boston Celtics struggle in overtime versus the Miami Heat. Fans of NBA teams making deep playoff runs felt every bit of the tension despite the abnormal circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Corbin Lathrop, Editor-in-Chief

Over the past three weeks, two of the NBA’s perceived title favorites found themselves packing their bags and departing the Orlando bubble far earlier than expected. 

The Milwakuee Bucks, led by two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, entered the playoffs as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, and boasted the league’s top overall record. For the second year in a row, however, the Bucks regular-season success did not translate to the playoffs, as they were handled in five games by the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals. 

In the West, the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers were also bounced from the playoffs in the conference semis. The Clippers’ offseason acquisitions of all-stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George had many considering them to be favorites in the Western Conference. After taking a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets, however, the Clippers went ice cold and thrice failed to notch the final victory, allowing Denver to come back from their second 3-1 deficit in as many series. The loss was especially gut-wrenching for the Clippers, who in their 50 years of existence, have yet to reach the conference finals.

The upsets continued the trend of unpredictable action taking place inside ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. After a four-and-a-half month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA finally returned to action on July 30th in what’s known as “the bubble.” Players, coaches, and staff are living in three of Disney’s hotels: the Gran Destino, the Grand Floridian and the Yacht Club. They’re tested for the coronavirus regularly, and required to wear masks on the premises. After over two months in the bubble, the NBA has yet to encounter a single positive test.

Although the bubble is incredibly different from what NBA fans are accustomed to seeing, many are pleased with the on-screen product.

“I’m pleasantly surprised with the bubble. I didn’t think I would like watching the games without fans, but now I don’t really notice it. I like how unpredictable the games have been, and I feel like the players are actually playing even harder than they normally do,” said senior Cooper Johnson. 

The NBA finals kicked off this week between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. Lakers star Lebron James looks to cement his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats, while the upstart Heat hope to complete what has been up to this point a magical postseason run in Disney World.

For fans of teams who made deep playoff runs in the bubble, the action was just as stressful as during a normal season.

“As a big Celtics fan, it was extremely stressful watching the playoffs in the bubble. Since the teams never have to travel, the Celtics played every other day, so I never have time to catch my breath. I was in a constant state of stress. My hair was falling out, I lost weight, and I had several panic attacks as I watched their playoff run,” said senior Peter Montavon.