I have been thoroughly entertained by the National Basketball Association action in the “Bubble” in Orlando, Florida during the past month.
The seeding games were fun to watch, and now business is really starting to pick up in the first round of the playoffs.
For a basketball junkie like myself, the playoff format has been perfect with there being four games every day going off in rapid fire action. The games begin in the early afternoon and go on into the late evening. It is like watching the NCAA Tournament at home all day or sitting in a gym and watching a high-level summer grassroots tournament. I cannot get enough of it.
What I’ve really learned is that the league is in very good hands in the future as we have seen some extraordinary performances from some of the younger stars.
These young men are in their early 20s and they are already putting on some historic playoff performances. It has been breathtaking to watch.
We can start with our city’s very own Jayson Tatum, who led the Boston Celtics to a four-game sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Tatum averaged 27 points and 9.8 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field and 45 percent from 3-point range.
At the age of 22, he became the youngest Celtic player ever to post back to back 30-point games in a playoff series. Jayson has been tremendous.
Second-year pro Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks has been on fire in his team’s first-round matchup against the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers.
A 21-year old superstar from Slovenia, Doncic has already posted a pair of 40-point performances against the Clippers. Last Sunday, Doncic had a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assists masterpiece in Game 4 which culminated in his 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Mavs a 133-132 overtime victory.
Later that night on the same court, it was time for Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets to take center stage. Both 23 years old, these two young phenoms made history in the Jazz’ Game 4 victory over the Nuggets.
Mitchell finished with 51 points while Murray was right behind with 50, making it the first time in NBA playoff history that two players scored 50 points in the same game.
Since the NBA’s restart in late July, the Bubble has served as a great stage for these young stars to showcase their talents to a captive audience. You can also add Devon Booker of the Phoenix Suns, rookie Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies, fellow rookie Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans and former Columbia Father Tolton star Michael Porter Jr to that mix.
As I stated before, the future of the NBA is in good hands.