Thrilling NBA playoffs lead to COVID Bubble rematches


Courtesy NBA

Staff Writer Arnav Thube reports on the ongoing 2023 NBA playoffs.

Arnav Thube, Staff Writer

The National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs are the most exciting time of the year for basketball fans all around the world and the 2023 playoffs have been no exception, laden with breakout youngsters and dominant performances from the league’s solidified superstars.

In the first round, the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks in six games, despite a stellar performance from Hawks’ point guard Trae Young. The Philadelphia 76ers made quick work of the Brooklyn Nets, sweeping them 4-0.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were upset by the New York Knicks behind a stellar performance from point guard Jalen Brunson, who averaged 24 points per game. Superstar Power forward Giannis Antetekoumpo and the 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated in a shocking upset by the heavy underdog, the 8-seed Miami Heat, losing the series in five games.

Meanwhile, in the western conference, the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns beat the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers 4-1 respectively. Small forward Lebron James and the 7-seeded Los Angeles Lakers upset the 2-seeded Memphis grizzlies in six games. The Lakers have been on a tear since the all star break, jumping from the 13 seed all the way to the Western conference final.

The Golden State Warriors bested the Sacramento Kings in a thrilling seven game series. Their elimination marked the end of a historic season for the Kings, who broke their ongoing record of years since reaching the playoffs. This was their first playoff berth since 2006, and it is only the beginning for their young, star-studded roster.

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Knicks season ended in a disappointing six game series against the Miami Heat, led by veteran small forward Jimmy Butler. “Jimmy Buckets” has been light out in both playoff rounds, which further adds to his reputation as a playoff superstar.

The Celtics defeated the 76ers in seven games, which in my opinion, has been the best series of the playoffs so far. The series was riddled with flashy defensive efforts, nail-biting fourth quarters and dominant scoring performances from Joel Embiid, James Harden and Jayson Tatum, who dropped an all time game seven record with 51 points to eliminate current MVP Embiid and the 76ers.

In the Western Conference semifinals, the Lakers defeated the reigning champion Warriors in six games, and the Denver Nuggets dominated the Phoenix Suns, winning in six games.

In the Eastern conference finals, the Celtics and the Heat will face off; in the Western Conference finals, the Lakers and Nuggets will play each other for a trip to the 2023 NBA finals on the line. These teams were also the final four in the 2020 NBA bubble, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Will the circumstances of an electric playoff environment change the results of the conference finals?

As the playoffs continue to unfold, I can’t wait to see what will happen in what has already been an unforgettable season. I’m hoping for a Nuggets-Celtics finals, which will be a clash between two superstars, former MVP Center Nicola Jokic of the Nuggets and First Team All-NBA small forward Jayson Tatum of the Celtics.