Both conference finals are underway now, meaning the end of this long, strange but completely unforgettable season is firmly within sight.
With there being just four teams left, whittling down this list anymore after this seems a little moot, so this will more than likely be the final edition of the Sportsnet Playoff Power Rankings — until next season that is.
“Kobe,” Anthony Davis yelled out after drilling a game-winning buzzer-beater to bury the Nuggets at the end of Game 2.
Like the late Lakers great, Davis has been clutch all post-season long and, arguably, Los Angeles’ best player — not a small feat when you consider the Lakers also boast LeBron James on their roster.
And with this superstar duo averaging a combined 54.3 points, 20.7 rebounds and 12.6 assists per game on 56-per cent shooting from the field and a 37.2-per cent clip from deep during the post-season, it’s hard to see any team beat the Lakers in a best-of-seven the rest of way here.
Not the final score we wanted but it came with another impressive playoff performance from @raf_tyler.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 20, 2020
2. Miami Heat
The Heat still appear to be good shape in their series with the Celtics, but a troubling trend has been seen in the way they’ve dug their way into holes in games and had to crawl their way out of them.
In Games 1 and 2 they were able to do just that, but they came up short in Game 3.
Resilience is a good trait to have, obviously, but needing to make comeback after comeback is bound to wear on even the most battle-tested teams, so it’ll be interesting to see if Miami can get off to better starts as this series continues.
The return of Gordon Hayward couldn’t have come at a better time for Boston as the Celtics managed to avoid the 3-0 death knell and looked to get back into the series, coinciding with Hayward’s first time back in an NBA game since Aug. 17.
With Hayward, the Celtics have a legitimate sixth-man scorer and, more importantly, a play-maker off the bench. If he’s able to get his conditioning back, they also have yet another potentially 20-plus-per-game scorer on an already deep offensive Celtics side.
The Davis game-winner not only stole a Game 2 victory from the Nuggets, but given the dejected nature of some of the scenes seen and heard from Denver, you might think to count this team out.
However, as their first two series of this post-season had indicated, to count out the Nuggets would be foolhardy.
Sunday’s Game 2 was a true classic because the battle down low, out on the perimeter and everywhere in between played out between Davis and Nuggets star centre Nikola Jokic.
Had Davis not drilled that game-winner, everyone would’ve been talking about Jokic’s 30-point, nine-assist gem that included what could’ve been the game-winning layup, where he took Davis down in the low block and schooled him with 20 seconds left on the clock.
The margin for error is slim, but the Nuggets can hang with the Lakers. What they have to prove now is that they can beat them.
Eliminated: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to Denver with the cause seemingly going back to an issue that plagued them all season long: a lack of chemistry.
The Clippers look to have too many cooks in the kitchen and seem to get confused about how shot distribution should play out game-to-game, not to mention who they want to go to during each trip down the floor in crunch time.
Remember Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can both opt out of their contracts with the Clippers next off-season, meaning next season they’ll essentially be entering free-agent years.
It’ll now be up to Lawrence Frank to figure out a way to add a more appropriate supporting cast for his two superstars this off-season.