This column seeks to cover significant current events in the sporting world, especially as they relate to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 breakout first started to gain steam, many thought that sports this year would be put on hold. However, thanks to strong organizational skills, many athletic competitions have been able to carry on with their seasons, including professional basketball. Now, after an eventful regular season, the postseason has been heating up inside of the Bubble.
Conference finals are beginning to wrap up, the last step before the competition to determine it all: the NBA finals. From the Eastern conference, the Boston Celtics, who went 48-24 in the regular season, face off against the Miami Heat, who went 44–29 in the regular season, with the series winner going on to face the winner of the Western Conference. This contest has been riddled with intrigue, as the Heat previously defeated the number one seeded Milwaukee Bucks to make it to the conference finals, while the Celtics have ground out last second wins without their top star, Jimmy Butler. The Heat currently lead in the series 2–1.
While the Eastern Conference championship seems to be a slugfest, the Western Conference may end up a smoother ride than expected between the Los Angeles Lakers, who went 52–19, and the Denver Nuggets who went 46–27. However, that does not mean that the road has not been without some intrigue, as the Nuggets have pulled out series victories in their last two series after falling down 3–1 in each of them. It remains to be seen whether there will be more late heroics from this Denver team, as they already find themselves down 2–1 in this series.
This postseason has been one unlike any other in NBA history thanks to the effects of the novel coronavirus. How teams have and continue to adjust has certainly changed the course of the season, but now all eyes are focused on how it will end. Experts at nba.com chimed in before each of the conference finals began, with Steve Aschburner predicting that the Miami Heat would move on past the Celtics in the East after seven games and Shaun Powell picking the Lakers to win the West in six. Even those who are not fans of basketball can tell that this season is shaping up to be one for the record books, not only because of the unusual circumstances that we find ourselves in, but also due to the tension and drama that has enveloped the court this year. Who will make it to the finals, and who will have to give it another shot next year?