“… We have an obligation to try this. Because the alternative is to stay on the sidelines. The alternative is to give in to this virus. This is what we do: We put on NBA basketball. We think for the country, it will be a respite from enormous difficulties that people are dealing with in their lives right now, and also on social justice issues. It will be an opportunity for NBA players to draw attention to these issues, because the world’s attention will be on the NBA and Orlando, if we’re able to pull this off.”NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
It’s on! The NBA restarts the 2019-2020 season with an 8-game sprint to finalize the ranking spots, before moving quickly to the playoffs! At stake is a new order, new normal crown for a new king to be hailed for all of the cage kingdom to see.
Last 1st of July, 22 teams reassembled. Players started to warm up, if they haven’t done so yet. Teams began to review or redo old plays. It is time to clear out the cobwebs, spread some oil on the rust. It is time to restart those engines, and get ready to rock… or bust. By week 2 of July, the teams fly off to Orlando, to enter a new world, with a new environment, a futuristic bubble where CLEAN is the bible truth.
Fans across the world are giddy with excitement, as the NBA relaunches to finally crown a season winner. Here are some fun facts for the season to jog your memory:
- Lebron James is hot in pursuit of so many records, foremost of which is validation as the “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT). At age 35, the age Michael Jordan won his last title, Lebron needs more championships and accolades to beef up his case.
- Lebron could win his 3rd title with a different team. He has taken the Finals MVP in 2 different teams, and will get the distinction as the only player ever to have made Finals MVP for 3 different teams if they win the crown.
- Kawhi Leonard, at only 29 yrs old, has won 2 MVP Finals for different teams, same as Lebron. Counting in Kevin Durant who also took 2 Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors, they are the only current players who have 2 Finals MVP locked in their trophy rooms. Kawhi could put a dent on Lebron’s achievement records if he wins his 3rd.
- The Lakers are the oldest team in the NBA, with an average age of 30 yrs. Their last playoff appearance was in the 2013 season. This could be the 17th title for the Lakers if they win title, tying them with their arch-rivals in the east, the Boston Celtics.
- That said, the Boston Celtics leads the title race, with 17 harvested through the decades. The Lakers follow with 16, the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls have 6 apiece, San Antonio Spurs have 5. Among this season’s playoff contenders, it’s the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets who have not won the crown, and have not even reached the NBA Finals.
- However, the LA Clippers are for the first time seriously gunning to wrest El-ay from the showtiming Lakers. This is by far the closest chance the Clippers will ever have to copping the crown, with a bench considered by many pundits as the deepest among contenders.
- With the early exit of the Golden State Warriors, a proud era has ended. The race for the crown is wide open, with contenders and pretenders mixing and matching in a season gone berserk. New alliances, new combinations have taken shape. It’s a new-look NBA as we deal with a new norm.
- Contending for the regular season MVP are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lebron at the forefront, followed by Luka Doncic, James Harden and Kawhi. With only 8 games in an abbreviated regular season, it looks like it will be a 2-way fight between Giannis and Lebron.
- Equally interesting is the race for the Rookie of the Year Award. Ja Morant is leading the race, but Zion Williamson could still snatch it away depending on the results of the race for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.
These and many more storylines are hoping to be answered as we prepare for NBA Restart 2020. With that, who do I think will come out on top of the heap? Here’s what my crusty crystal ball has to say:
“I see green in the East, with the Bucks and the Celtics eyeball-to-eyeball. But in the end, it will be the Beast upending the luck of the Irish.” The Bucks will have learned their lessons from last year. After leading Kawhi’s Raptors 2 and 0, they relaxed their guard and allowed Toronto to gain the momentum and eventually win the ultimate prize. That crown should have been theirs, had they dug their heels deeper. Now is redemption time, except that they still need to look west.
Over in the West, the series-to-end-all-series will be the Battle for LA. There will be glitter and glam as Lebron’s Lakers battle Kawhi’s Clippers. All eyes will be on the match-ups, how fast each team can capitalize on the slightest advantage. This clash of giants will be determined by who’s got the healthier, fresher storm troopers at the endgame of the battle. My crystal ball sees the Clippers outlasting the stubborn, yet definitely competitive Lakers. This will be a heroic battle of wills for the players, a cerebral battle of wits for the coaching staff. And in the end, tis the Clippers that gets crowned the best of the West, the ball says.
That said, watch out for the red-and-blue Clippers clashing with the greenshirts of Milwaukee. And in this battle between 2 of the most defense-minded teams in the league, it will be the team with the deeper bench that will emerge victorious. My crystal ball sayeth: “The newbies of El-ay, having never ever reached the Finals before, are the basketball gods’ favored son for this year. Long live the Clippers!”
Thus spake my crystal ball. Who you got?
For a closer look, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of ABS-CBN News. Other photos courtesy of Clutch Points, Silver Screen and Roll, YouTube, Boston Herald, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Bleacher Report, USA Today, ESPN.com, Fadeaway World, On Milwaukee, Raptors Republic, The Dream Shake, Dallas Mavericks, Orlando Magic Daily, Wager Talk News, and Full Sports.