It has been confirmed that the Brooklyn Nets will play the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs. This is with the Raptors as the second seed and the Nets as the seventh seed in the East. This was the assumed playoff matchup before the NBA entered its bubble in Orlando, Florida. The bubble was put in for the league’s return to play. After the league paused its season due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league’s plan was to have the 22 teams that were still in contention for playoffs to join the bubble. First, those 22 teams served a quarantine in their hotel rooms. Then they would play 4 exhibition games plus 8 regular-season games to qualify for the playoffs. After the 8 regular-season games, the teams that are eliminated will leave the NBA’s bubble. The teams who move on to and throughout the playoffs will stay in the bubble until they are eliminated. This was done so the NBA can eventually crown a champion at the end of the season.
Even though most NBA teams have only played 7 of the 8 regular-season games in the bubble. All of the Eastern Conference playoff matchups have been confirmed. In the 7 regular-season games the Brooklyn Nets have already played they have a surprising 5-2 record. I say the good record was surprising because the Nets are without some of their best players in the bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eight players the Nets are without consist of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Nicolas Claxton, Wilson Chandler, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, and Michel Beasley. Beasley actually had just recently signed with the Nets as a player strictly for the bubble. But couldn’t go to the bubble because Beasley tested positive for Covid-19.
If you don’t know the Toronto Raptors are the defending NBA champions. But after the championship, the Raptors lost their best player Kawhi Leonard in free agency when Leonard went the Los Angeles Clippers. But the Raptors are still amazing with a lot of players that were pivotal to their championship.
In the bubble, the Raptors have been even better than the Nets. Their record is 6-1 through the first 7 of the 8 regular-season games in the bubble. It’s very clear that the Raptors are an amazing team, they’re a top 5 team in the NBA. Therefore, with the way that the Raptors are playing right now, it’s gonna be really hard to beat them.
In the 2019-20 regular season, the Raptors and Nets played against each other 5 times. The Raptors won 4 out of the 5 games against the Nets. That stat may make it seem obvious that the Raptors have the advantage in the matchup. That may not be true though because every single game in the season series was pretty close. But in a playoff scenario with no fans, it’s tough to see what advantage the Raptors have. Obviously the Nets missing some very key players is a huge advantage for the Raptors. They also had a way better season, but when going in the playoffs everything is unpredictable.
The coaching matchup is a very interesting one, to say the least. Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn has only coached the Nets for 10 games. But, Vaughn does have experience as a head coach. Vaughn was the head coach of the Orlando Magic from 2012 to 2015. But the Magic’s record in that time when they had Vaughn as their head coach was 58-158. That being said the Raptors coach Nick Nurse already has coached a championship team in only his second season. So, Nurse is probably the better coach. Also, Vaughn is the interim head coach for the Nets and probably won’t be the head coach next season.
The Raptors seem to have a better chance of winning. Even though that’s true, I would never count out the Nets. This Nets team wants to prove people wrong. This Nets team wants to show the world that Nets can win and be successful with a lot of their best players. Some of these players may want to play well for more money on their next contract or possibly to show coaches around the NBA that they deserved to play more. Whatever it is, there are a lot of things this Nets team wants to prove. Even though the Raptors are really favored and will probably win. I wouldn’t doubt this Nets team.