Three of the best commentators the NBA has ever had - Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, and Jeff van Gundy - took time out in the middle of their busy schedule in the Orlando bubble to talk about the ongoing Conference Semifinals series between the Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers.
They also spoke in-depth about life inside the bubble and Sunday's NBA action, which will see them calling back-to-back games, something that's doesn't happen very often.
The trio spoke separately to Sports Illustrated's Justin Barrasso, whose article can be found here.
With the Milwaukee Bucks down 0-3 to the Miami Heat and the LA Lakers losing their first game to the Houston Rockets, much of the discussion was about the shocks of the semi-finals so far.
The other two series, involving the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors in the East, and the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers in the West, are also nicely poised at 2-2 and 1-1 respectively.
Let's look at a few excerpts from the interview concerning the playoffs.
Will the Houston Rockets get past the LA Lakers if they win Game 2?Jackson, Van Gundy and Breen have worked harder than ever before to talk us through the action
Mike Breen believes that the key for the LA Lakers is to not overreact to one single loss, and have confidence in their ability to bounce back. He reiterated the fact that they would need to get beat four times to lose the series, and until then, everything is possible.
Breen also reminded the doubters of the first game from the 1985 NBA Finals where the LA Lakers were blown out by the Boston Celtics, only to end up winning the series.
"I always think back to the Memorial Day Massacre when the Lakers and Celtics played Game 1 of the NBA Finals in ’85. The Lakers got blown out, they lost by 34, but they still ended up winning the title. It’s one game. The key thing is not to overreact to one game or one loss in a playoff series. The veterans and the coaches that have been through this know it’s only one game. You have to get beat four times."
Mark Jackson, however, said he would be picking the Houston Rockets over the LA Lakers in case James Harden and co. go 2-0 up. He, much like Breen, believes that the series would be far from over even if the next game goes to the Houston Rockets, but is unwilling to fancy the LA Lakers.
"The Rockets are a bad matchup for the Lakers. Can the Lakers win? Absolutely. But I’m going to pick the Houston Rockets because of the problems they create defensively for the Lakers."
Finally, Jeff van Gundy, in a diplomatic tone, refrained from picking a clear winner. He did point out a few of the LA Lakers' shortcomings, including their inability to field an expert guard like Avery Bradley and their lack of half-court options.
"Every game is a game unto itself. If you have great players, they can certainly come back and win. Avery Bradley being out for L.A. is a much bigger factor this series than in the previous one. And the Lakers’ lack of reliable half-court options offensively makes it hard."
He also praised the Houston Rockets' defense, saying that their intensity took him by surprise.
"Houston’s defense and willingness to fight on the boards has been spectacular. No one would have ever said coming into this new season that Houston was going to win with its defense, but that’s why they won in the first round and why they won Game 1 against the LA Lakers. They’re playing tremendous defense."
To state the obvious, this is a series which has the potential to have a lot of twists and turns. With so many all-time great NBA players on the court when the Houston Rockets and the LA Lakers battle it out, it might come down to a moment of individual magic.
Published 06 Sep 2020, 23:51 IST