2020 NBA Playoff Highlights
The New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs have all come and gone after a failed playoffs bid in the NBA's bubble in Orlando.
The two Los Angeles teams, the Lakers and the Clippers, both have resumed their season as main contenders for the 2020 NBA championship, with a 35-year old Lebron James and Anthony Davis leading the Lakers past the Trail Blazers, 4-2, while Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers successfully mounted their defense against the now Kristaps Porzingis-less Mavericks team.
While these are the main highlights, more teams emerge triumphant as the playoffs continue to heat up.
Lebron James and Los Angeles Lakers breeze past the Portland Trail Blazers, 4-1
The Blazers entered the series on a strong groove with a 6-2 record during the seeding games and lead by a scorching hot Damian Lillard who averaged 37.6 PPG on 49.7% FG, 43% from three, and 88.8% FT.
There was doubt at the beginning of the series for the Lakers as Damian Lillard scored 34 points to lead the Blazers to a 100-93 Game 1 win. The Game 1 loss spoiled James' triple-double of 23 points, 16 assists, and 17 rebounds and a 28-point performance by Anthony Davis, as the Lakers supporting cast was just nonexistent.
In response to many doubters, the Lakers won the next 4 games for the series win. The Trail Blazers never really threatened the Lakers as the closest they could come in 4 games was 8 points in the 116-108 Game 3 loss.
The Los Angeles Lakers are now in the Western Conference semifinals and will face the winner of the Rockets-Thunder matchup.
Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers down Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks
After Luka Doncic became the first-ever NBA player to have a 40-point game in his playoff debut with a 42-point game 118-110 loss in Game 1, the series went back and forth with close games in the next 3 games, where the highest advantage was 13 points in the Mavs' 127-114 win in Game 2. The Mavericks' second star, Kristaps Porzingis, was sidelined with a meniscus tear after Game 3.
Kawhi Leonard carried the mantle for LA in the first 4 games with 33 PPG on 50% shooting amid second star Paul George's shooting slump which saw averaging just 15.3 points on a putrid 29% FG and 22.9% 3FG in games 2 to 4. He actually had a good Game 1, with 27 points on 45.5% FG.
While the Mavericks gave a good fight in the series, the Clippers completely obliterated them in Game 5, 154-111, in a game that Paul George exploded for 35 points to end his slump.
The Clippers finished the series with a comfortable 111-97 win to advance to the NBA Western Conference semifinals against the winner of the Nuggets-Jazz matchup.
Bucks, Pacers, Celtics, and Raptors dominate the Eastern Conference
While it's commonly known that the Eastern Conference is the weaker of the two conferences in terms of talent, nobody expected that the Eastern Conference quarterfinals would end with 3 out of 4 matchups ending in a sweep.
In the battle between the 1st seed Milwaukee Bucks and 8th seed Orlando Magic, Orlando shocked the Bucks in a 122-110 win after Nikola Vucevic scored a playoff career-high 35 points. While the Bucks' superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo had an impressive performance scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 boards, one of the keys to the Magic win was the fact that they held Antetokounmpo without a field goal in the game's last 11 minutes.
Whatever the Magic had in Game 1, they clearly didn't have it in the rest of the series as the Bucks won by double digits in the next 4 games.
The Bucks will face the Miami Heat in the semifinals. The Miami Heat was able to sweep the Indiana Pacers.
In the lower bracket of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Philadelphia 76ers were eager to bounce back after their narrow loss to the Toronto Raptors in last year's semifinals. However, whatever hope they had was quickly smashed after the Boston Celtics swept them as the 76ers struggled with Joel Embiid not getting enough help as Ben Simmons was ruled out of this year's playoffs due to a knee injury.