SPORTS — September 22, 2020 at 10:19 pm

NBA playoffs gain intensity as second round matchups continue

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Russell Westbrook (0) of the Houston Rockets drives the ball against LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter in game two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Sunday, September 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/TNS)
Russell Westbrook (0) of the Houston Rockets drives the ball against LeBron James (23) of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter in game two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Sunday, September 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images/TNS)

It has been nearly six months since the NBA suspended their season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27), tested positive for COVID-19. Fans started to question if the NBA would return. 

On July 30, the NBA returned with their regular basketball season. Three teams in the Western Conference dueled for the last playoff spot. After a fierce competition, the Portland Trail Blazers claimed their place into the playoffs. Now three weeks later, eight teams have survived past the first round. 

 After suspending the season, the NBA created a “bubble,” where they provided  an environment to help prevent the athletes from getting COVID-19.   

A campus was set up in Orlando using the Disney World facilities to safely resume the season. All players and staff stayed in hotels to quarantine for 14 days until the entire league tested negative. Now they are in a bubble-like environment, where no one goes in or out until their team is eliminated or crowned champion.

The Los Angeles Lakers have the highest odds to win the playoffs this year according to ESPN basketball power index, but other teams have different opinions. 

Their neighbors the Los Angeles Clippers, along with their star player, Kawhi Leonard (2), are dominating and hoping to put an end to the Lakers season. The Clippers and the Lakers have the top two seeds in the Western Conference after dominating all season long. 

“Lebron’s passing has been incredible, he’s one of the best passers in the league,” freshman Ben Rothenberg said.

The Eastern Conference has a few teams that are serious contenders. The Toronto Raptors are looking to defend their championship from last year. They have a group of young and skilled players that will bring Toronto a bright future.

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat are also giving teams a tough time. The Miami Heat has the best record in the playoffs so far at 7-1. The Heat have the most experience in the playoff while being led by Head Coach Erik Spolestra who has been to the playoffs eight times.

“The Heat had a great comeback in the fourth quarter and played great defense,” freshman Alec Gordon said.

Some players have exceeded expectations and have their eyes on the prize. Small forward Lebron James (23) has led the Lakers into the second round of the playoffs by beating the Portland Trail Blazers in five games. Shooting guard James Harden, (13) of the Houston Rockets is giving James a reason to push harder, tying up the series between the Rockets and Lakers 1-1. 

Los Angeles Clippers’ small forward Kawhi Leonard (2), and Denver Nuggets’ point guard Jamal Murray (27) are also amongst the many having outstanding performances, both leading their teams in points. The Clippers and Nuggets have led their teams to the second round to face each other, and are tied up 1-1 in the series.

“I can’t believe the Nuggets made it this far; I don’t think they have enough to beat the Clippers though,” freshman Ryan Cruz said.

In the Eastern Conference, Jimmy Butler and the Heat have been shocking the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks as they lead the series 3-1. In the fourth and final playoff matchup, power forward Pascal Siakam (43) from theToronto Raptors are facing small forward Jayson Tatum (0) from the Boston Celtics. Both young stars have put their teams in a 2-2 tie in the series.

Overall, the playoffs have been a wild ride and continue to get better. With two rounds left and many teams looking like they can be the champion, only one team can leave the bubble victorious.

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Alex Fishman is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a sports writer for the Eagle Eye. He is on the MSD cross country team and loves to listen to music.

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Jack Lickerman is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is excited to be part of the Eagle Eye newspaper staff. He enjoys playing basketball and video games. His favorite professional teams to watch are the Chicago Bears and Bulls.

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