[caption id="attachment_310520" align="aligncenter" width="1920"] (@MiamiHEAT)
Good morning, folks. The play-in round for the Western Conference's 8-seed will be officially decided later in the day. Let's talk NBA Bubble.
Herro's 30 points not enough to hold off OKC's comeback
It was a career night for Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro
, who set a new personal best with a 30-point outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, an unprecedented rally from OKC late in the fourth quarter stole the thunder from Herro as his Heat team fell in the waning seconds, 116-115. But my goodness, Herro sure does look the part of a future longterm starter.
The former Wildcat has discussed in the past
how another fellow Kentucky hooper, Devin Booker
, was his idol growing up as a basketball player. From playing at Kentucky, being drafted No. 13 overall, to their undeniable swagger, you don't have to watch Herro for more than a couple of possessions before the Booker comparisons smack you right across the face. For starters, neither of them are "just shooters"; they both control the ability to get off shots at the rim and can slalom through defenses for off-balance jumpers. Herro's running jump shot is directly out of the Booker playbook. What really sticks out to when watching Herro is how calm and confident he is coming around screens for easy pull-up mid-range shots.
Against OKC, Herro's true potential as a Booker clone shined brighter than I've ever seen it. His 30 points came on 9-16 shooting that included a 3-6 mark from beyond the arc. He hauled in six rebounds, as well, playing a team-high 38 minutes (no other Heat player appeared in more than 24 minutes) while knocking down all nine of his free throws attempts. You don't often see rookies with the presence of mind to float layups high off the backboard when they feel the presence of a shot-blocker nearby, but Herro appears to have mastered that skill already. When you watch his highlights below, make sure to check out the dart he lasers right into Kelly Olynk's chest for a beautiful assist.
Miami and OKC both whipped out the bench mobs down the stretch, which allowed for a 22-point fourth-quarter comeback by the Thunder. OKC outscored Miami 34-15 in the final 12 minutes of action as Thunder forward Mike Muscala drilled two 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds to help push his team ahead.
(OKC) and Bam Adebayo
(MIA) both sat out the fourth quarter for their respective squads as both teams have already locked up its playoff position. SGA added 18 points on 6-9 shooting for OKC while Adebayo played just 16 minutes for Miami, registering six points, two rebounds, and four assists. The resting of key players allowed more clock for Thunder rotational pieces, Hamidou Diallo
and Nerlens Noel
. Diallo, who has been somewhat up-and-down in the Bubble, went for 11 points on 4-9 shooting while Noel contributed two points and seven rebounds with four turnovers in 18 minutes.
Previewing today's schedule in the Wild Wild West
We've been touching on this subject every day during our daily BBNBA posts, but later on Thursday, shit finally gets real. The four teams--Portland, Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio--all vying for the two play-in seeds are all set to play its eighth and final seeding game throughout the afternoon. As always, here are the updated standings:
For Portland, the situation is "win and you're in". They'll take on a surprising Brooklyn Nets team that might put up a tougher fight than the other three teams will face. Memphis will go up against a Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks squad who have locked up the top-seed in the East and have nothing to play for. The Grizzlies are in the same boat as the Blazers: win and you're in. Phoenix will have to beat the Dallas Mavericks, who will likely look to rest some starters in the second half, opening up an opportunity for the Suns to go 8-0 in the Bubble. But even that might not be good enough; Phoenix needs one of Portland or Memphis to lose no matter what happens against the Mavs or else they are out. Finally, San Antonio needs the most help. They have to beat the Utah Jazz--another team with very little to play for-- and then they need at least two of Phoenix/Portland/Memphis to lose.
It's gonna be a WILD one, folks! I will be cheering my little heart out for a Suns-Trail Blazers play-in round and I suggest you do the same.
The playoffs are (mostly) set
Outside of the disaster situation we just went over, the rest of the playoff matchups are set. Here is a look at who will be playing who:
Milwaukee Bucks (Bledsoe)
vs. Orlando Magic
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Boston Celtics (Kanter)
vs. Philadephia 76ers
Miami Heat (Adebayo, Herro)
vs. Indiana Pacers
Los Angeles Lakers (Davis, Rondo)
vs. (winner of play-in round)
Los Angeles Clippers (Patterson)
vs. Dallas Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist)
Denver Nuggets (Murray)
vs. Utah Jazz
Oklahoma City Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel)
vs. Houston Rockets
My first impressions? This is going to be an AWESOME year for the playoffs. The first-round matchup between OKC and HOU was curated by the Basketball Gods themselves (Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul playing against their teams of last season). I am absolutely ready for some more SGA playoff basketball. Honestly, all four of the Western Conference first-round series will be must-watch television. The Nuggets will look to prove they are a legitimate playoff threat, Luka Doncic will go head-to-head against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Anthony Davis
will make his return to the postseason for the first time in what feels like a decade. I am already in love.
Go ahead and snooze through the first round of MIL-ORL, as I'd be shocked to see the Magic steal more than one game from that series. The same can be said for the Raptors-Nets series, although Brooklyn is playing a lot better right now than its overall record would indicate. But I DEMAND a seven-game series between both the 76ers and Celtics (two teams that, for all intents and purposes, hate
each other) and the Heat and Pacers. Which matchup are you the most eager to watch?
[table id=561 /]
TODAY IN THE BUBBLE
12:00: Wizards @ Celtics (Kanter)
1:30: Kings (Fox: out)
@ Lakers (Davis, Rondo: out)
4:00: Bucks (Bledsoe)
4:00 (TNT): Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist)
@ Suns (Booker)
6:30 (TNT): Spurs (Johnson)
9:00 (TNT): Trail Blazers (Gabriel)
9:00: Pelicans @ Magic