The past year and half has turned the entire world around. Last year the NBA managed to complete the season in a playoff bubble in Orlando, FL following an abbreviated season.
With this year’s postseason already kicking off with play-in games, many coaches such as the Boston Celtics Brad Stevens are channeling their college coaching days to help their respective teams prepare for the play-in games.
Stevens is no stranger to tournament play. He took Butler to the NCAA championship game in 2010 and 2011. Each game brings their team one step closer at a chance to be named this year’s NBA Champion
“It’s exciting,” San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray said in a recent interview. “It’s one chance closer to get the opportunity to make the playoffs. So win or go home game. … You win and you move on, you lose you go home.”
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant also added. “We still have the opportunity to still make the playoffs. We know what’s at stake. Just got to go out, handle business. Two games, one at a time.”
The idea of the play-in format started last year after the NBA restarted its season following a brief shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic which was just starting to take hold of the world.
Memphis and Portland battled for the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference. It took just one game for the Damian-Lillard led Blazers to eliminate the Grizzlies.
Whichever way the play-in games and playoffs shake out, one thing is for certain, we are in for an exciting postseason. Looking at the 2021 NBA Championship odds, it looks like the Nets are at the top of the list to take home the win this year (+200). The Lakers follow slightly behind with odds listed at +400.
Injuries have plagued many of the top teams throughout the regular season. The Brooklyn Nets have seen limited time with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving all being on the court at the same time. Anthony Davis and LeBron James have both suffered injuries that lead to significant time off the court. The Denver Nuggets are entering the post-season without star Jamal Murray, who was incredible in the bubble last year while leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals.
Injuries will not be an excuse for effort as pointed out by coach Brad Stevens sharing, “When we were in the bubble, I thought it was the highest level I’d ever seen, just as far as like intensity, effort, teams again playing at just a ridiculous level. And I just think the playoffs brings that out of people every year, and so I anticipate the playoffs will be great.”