The NBA is deep into the second round, families have arrived in the bubble (just not LeBron’s kids), and the intrigue is picking up. The 2020 NBA playoffs schedule is out, and changing, and we’ve got it.
• The NBA is continuing to push the pace to start the second round with two games a day.
• Games are played every other day in every series.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1.
Game 1: Celtics 112, Raptors 94
Game 2: Celtics 102, Raptors 99
Game 3: Raptors 104, Celtics 103
Game 4: Raptors 100, Celtics 93
Game 5: Celtics 111, Raptors 89
Game 6: Raptors 125, Celtics 122 (2OT) (series tied 3-3)
Game 7: Sept. 11, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 1: Heat 115, Bucks 104
Game 2: Heat 116, Bucks 114
Game 3: Heat 115, Bucks 100
Game 4: Bucks 118, Heat 115 (OT)
Game 5: Heat 103, Bucks 94 (Miami wins series 4-1)
Game 1: Rockets 112, Lakers 97
Game 2: Lakers 117, Rockets 109
Game 3: Lakers 112, Rockets 102
Game 4: Lakers 110, Rockets 100 (Lakers lead series 3-1)
Game 5: Sept. 12, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Sept. 14, 9 p.m. (TNT) *if necessary
Game 7: Sept. 16, TBD (TNT)
Game 1: Clippers 120, Nuggets 97
Game 2: Nuggets 110, Clippers 101
Game 3: Clippers 113, Nuggets 107
Game 4: Clippers 96, Nuggets 85
Game 5: Nuggets 111, Clippers 105 (Clippers lead series 3-2)
Game 6: Sept. 13, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 7: Sept. 15, TBD (ESPN)
While the NBA’s restart bubble in Orlando has worked and allowed games to take place, it’s not how the league wants to move forward. When the NBA returns next season — which is not happening before Christmas, and sources told NBC Sports is more likely to be in February — the goal is not to do it in a bubble format.
Instead, the hope is to do it in-market, with reduced fans and reduced travel. To start to get things closer to a typical season.
All that was told to teams through calls with owners on Thursday and GMs on Friday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Everything is in flux still for the next NBA season, including the salary cap, which has yet to be set.
Already the 2020 NBA Draft has been pushed back to Nov. 18, with the start of free agency delayed as well. While Christmas was mentioned as a potential start date, there is a strong push from some in ownership to wait until February or later, allowing a chance for more games with fans in the seats. Fan attendance accounts for 40% of NBA revenue, Adam Silver has said.
There are challenges with the later start. For one, the Tokyo Olympics will take place next July — with dozens of NBA players expected to compete on the huge international stage. Would the NBA use an NHL-style Olympics break in the season? If so, the NBA season could run so late the league struggles to get back on a preferred schedule for the 2021-22 season.
Whenever the season tips-off, owners want to play a full 82-game schedule after taking a financial hit this season due to the coronavirus. And they want as many fans as they can have in the building for those games.
Team general managers have noted an uptick in the quality of play in the bubble and think the reduced travel has something to do with it. They have discussed the idea of a homestand schedule — teams would stay home to play a team a couple of times in a row, reducing travel — but that creates its own challenges.
None of this is set yet. Adam Silver will be patient, gather as much information as he can, and not make a decision until he has to. As he has done throughout this process.
The Los Angeles Clippers had controlled the game, never quite pulling away but clearly looking the better team. Los Angeles came out playing a purpose, defending well and throwing Jamal Murray off, being physical, then pushing the pace and getting out in transition all game long. It worked. The Clippers led by as many as 16 and were up 80-73 heading into the fourth.
Then Denver, playing with a focus born of desperation, played its best quarter of the series — 38 points, Murray and Nikola Jokic making plays, hustle on defense, and then Michael Porter Jr. sticking the dagger in the Clippers.
It was enough to keep Denver’s season alive. The Nuggets won Game 5 111-105, but the L.A. Clippers still lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is on Sunday.
“I know there’s not a lot of belief…” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said of the view of his team, which trailed 3-1 last round to Utah and came back. “We believe in ourselves.”
Jamal Murray summed up the turnaround. The Clippers came out and smothered him early (as they have done all series) with Patrick Beverley, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard spending time guarding him. Murray just could not find a rhythm and was 6-of-18 shooting through the first three quarters.
In the fourth, he was 3-of-3 from three (and finished the night with 26 points). Jokic was 4-of-4 in the fourth. As a team, the Nuggets were 7-of-9 from three in the fourth.
“We missed a lot of open shots, a lot of open threes…” a frustrated Doc Rivers said postgame. “I thought our discipline defensively was far worse than our discipline offensively.”
Denver also was able to find footing because Rivers rested Kawhi Leonard longer at the start of the fourth (he finished with 36 points and played fantastic defense), sticking with Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell longer. Murray and Jokic hunted those matchups, then got their confidence.
In the end, Murray scored, 26, Jokic 22, and Paul Millsap a critical 17. Paul George added 26 for the Clippers.
There will be attempts to say this game changes everything, noting that Denver came back from 3-1 down last round against Utah, while the Clippers franchise has never reached the conference finals in its 50 years of existence. Be careful about going down that road.
The Clippers controlled this game most of the way, learned a hard lesson about closing a good team out, and Los Angeles remains the deeper and more talented squad.
As Red said in Shawshank Redemption, “Let me tell you something my friend, hope is a dangerous thing.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies on Friday hired Sonia Raman as an assistant coach. She replaces Niele Ivey, who was hired by Notre Dame in April.
Raman spent the past 12 seasons as women’s basketball coach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she reached the NCAA Tournament twice. The Engineers went 91-45 over her final five seasons. She started coaching as an assistant at her alma mater, Tufts. She then spent six years as an assistant at Wellesley.
“She has a high basketball IQ and a tremendous ability to teach the game as well as a strong passion for the game,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “She is going to be a great addition to our current coaching staff.”
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff,” Raman said. “I can’t wait to get to Memphis and get started with Taylor, his staff and the team’s emerging core.”
The female coronavirus tester who allegedly entered his hotel room reportedly said she had contact with Tyson Chandler and another Rockets player but not House. House missed Games 3 and 4 of Houston’s series against the Lakers. Chandler missed Game 3 then got cleared.
The league has information that one of its contracted COVID-19 testing employees entered the Rockets’ Grand Floridian Hotel late night on Monday and has based its investigation of House on “door data” which showed House’s hotel room door opened sometime in those hours.
The woman, however, implicated Rockets center Tyson Chandler and another player and not House, the individual said. Chandler was cleared by the NBA investigation on Wednesday. The information on the other player was deemed not credible.
People with knowledge of the situation, who were granted anonymity to speak candidly about the ongoing investigation, said that the Rockets were “blindsided” by the NBA’s decision and that there had been little direct communication between the league office and team officials and Houston had received no formal presentation of evidence. Instead, communication continues between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.
“The NBA is treating [House] as guilty until proven innocent for safety reasons,” said one person with knowledge of the situation. “They’re prioritizing their perception of safety over everything else. The NBPA feels its hands are tied. Any time [the union] talks about due process or presumption of guilt, [the NBA] immediately says, ‘Safety, safety, safety.’ There has to be some limit or balance.”
“If it was a star player, there’s no way [the NBA] would handle it this way,” said a person close to House with direct knowledge of the investigation. “They want to make an example out of somebody.”
Meanwhile, the Rockets-Lakers series is proceeding. Which means something must give. So, far it has been House’s availability.
Safety is often cited when denying someone due process. Sometimes, that’s reasonable. Often, it is not.
House is a helpful role player in Houston’s micro-ball system. But he is far from a star. Would a star get treated differently? It’s impossible to know for certain. Despite rumors to the contrary, no direct evidence has been presented of widespread bubble violations. But the NBA’s lack of transparency makes it more difficult to give the league benefit of the doubt.
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