If you are like myself there isn't any sweeter words than hearing that The Association is coming back tonight. After, Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert was announced as testing positive for COVID-19, the NBA went on a 141 day layoff from their season. Don't get me wrong the scrimmages were nice and watching the women play was a great hold over but the men's restart kicks off tonight. So here we are 8 games per every team in the Orlando Bubble to determine who makes the playoffs and who is going home. We kick off the long awaited restart with some picks.
Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans, 6:30 p.m. (EST)
The early game starring the team with the player who started all of this, The Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert. Personally feelings aside about him ruining my sports filled summer. I have to say, I still think the Utah Jazz are the team to watch during these games AND going into the playoffs. They are very dangerous. The New Orleans Pelicans are no slouches in their own right. They kind of need to win outright if they hope to leap the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies if they want to keep playing in a few weeks. But tonight I think, Mitchell, Conley, Ingles and Gobert will be too much for the young team.
That Dude's Pick: Utah Jazz
Then there is the main event. THE BATTLE FOR L.A.... in Orlando
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers, 9 p.m. (EST)
This game is hard to call. Not just because both teams are just that good, but because both teams have A LOT going on. We all know about the whole Lou Williams fiasco and everything, one time for Jack Harlow dry-snitching. But the Clippers were already short handed with Patrick Beverly being listed as questionable, and Montrezl Harrell being out. The depth isn't REALLY there for the Clippers. On the OTHER side of that equation. you have The Lakers. A team who is LOADED and has been playing hard ALL season long non-stop the number one seed in the west. But in honesty seeding at the top doesn't REALLY matter there's not REAL home court advantage to these things seeing as EVERY team is playing in the bubble. Wow you get to your logo on the floor and get to choose which colors you wear, but other than that does it REALLY matter. That might be the mindset of the Lakers to just coast, save their energy and coast into the playoffs. Playing hard tonight really doesn't help anything but a team's ego in this one. With all that being said it will being interesting to watch tonight.
That Dude's Pick: The Fans
Yes, its a cop out. I am aware, but let's face it the games tonight are going to be amazing to watch. But don't worry I'm not going to leave you without ACTUALLY getting into the paint and getting my hands dirty. So here's some bonus picks.
Who will be the 8th Seeds?
As you know by their are new rules in the bubble. All the games are being referred to as "seeding games" 8 games to see who gets what seed in the playoffs in a couple of weeks. The current 8th seeds (East: Magic/ West: Grizzlies) must be more than 4 games ahead of the 9th (East: Wizards/ West: Trail Blazers) to go on to the playoffs. If not, then those teams of each conference, respectfully, will compete in a "play-in tournament to determine the eight playoff seed." I don't know about you but all this talk about seeds make me want eat some sunflower seeds ASAP. Back to the point at hand. Who will continue on to the playoffs as the 8th seed.
That Dude's 8th Seed (East): Orlando Magic
This one is a EASY pick simply because the Magic are IN Orlando and are at home in the bubble already. It doesn't hurt that they are ALREADY five and a half games ahead of the Washington Wizards for the 8th seed. Yes, it is possible for a play in game for the two teams to meet, I just don't see it happening. Magic are my pick to walk in the playoffs as the 8th seed.
That Dude's 8th Seed (West): Memphis Grizzlies with play-in tournament
I'm not going to lie to you. This is a VERY biased pick for me. I was a HUGE Grizzlies fan. The guy Ja Morant is something special before the break and even after he is my stone cold lock for Rookie Of The Year. They also have my pick for Coach Of The Year in Taylor Jenkins. I see this team becoming a problem in the VERY near future. The other pieces of the puzzle you have the under-performing Portland Trail Blazers on their heels just three and a half games back. Also, the New Orleans Pelicans with the easiest seeding games schedule. I see the Grizzlies maintaining their spot BUT having to play to keep it.
So tonight let's kick back relax and enjoy.