The NBA is about to return in just a few weeks. And while the restart plan is facing some concerning challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is expected that the league office will be adamant to push through their plans in the Orlando bubble.
As the league office has been more aggressive in their mass testing, more and more positive cases have emerged – from players to team staff. And it doesn’t help that the state of Florida is slowly becoming a hot spot of COVID-19 in the USA.
But it looks like that the 22 teams involved in the bubble are good and ready to go as majority of the players have already made up their mind on whether they will join or not.
Teams who own some of the highest NBA 2020 odds in making it to the postseason such as the Lakers and the Raptors have ramped up their training as they get ready for battle. And like them, we here at SBOBET are excited to get this started.
Here is today’s set of NBA 2020 updates.
JR Smith and Dwight Howard will help the Lakers’ cause
With Avery Bradley opting out of the bubble, the Los Angeles Lakers have turned to JR Smith to try and fill in the void.
The 34-year-old shooting guard’s experience and veteran smarts will surely help the Lakers, especially given the history he’s had with LeBron James playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Smith was an integral part of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title run where they came back from a 3-1 deficit to upset the dominant Warriors team who went 73-9 during the regular season that year.
But other than that, the mercurial sharpshooter was more known for his gaffe during Game 1 of the 2018 finals to where he forgot the score, leading to one of the most iconic memes up to this day.
It has been a while since Smith played in an NBA game. After the 2018 season, the Cavaliers went into rebuild mode and they eventually dropped him from their roster.
In an interview with ESPN, Smith opened up about the mental toll that he had when he was away from the game.
“I went through a very depressed state for a long time and it lasted for a few months. I didn’t want to hoop, work out, and do anything with basketball,” said Smith.
But now that he’s in Los Angeles, his joy in playing is back and head coach Frank Vogel and LeBron James like what they’ve been seeing from their new addition.
“His nickname is Swish for a reason, right? He’s a big-time shot-maker and he looks like he’s in terrific physical condition. And like I’ve said all along, I think he’s really going to help us,” said Vogel.
“Right back at it like we never left,” posted LeBron James on his Instagram story recently.
In addition to JR Smith being added to the roster, the Lakers will have one of their key cogs back despite initially expressing his hesitance to play.
Dwight Howard is expected to join the team on Thursday in Orlando, and he has pledged to donate his remaining game checks to his non-profit campaign called Breathe Again in support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“My NBA salary and platform, while in the bubble, will be used to ignite a breath of fresh air into the community,” said Howard in a statement.
Serge Ibaka reiterates that the Raptors are ready to defend the title
Since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers during the last offseason, many pundits have already dismissed the Raptors’ chances for a repeat.
But the Nick Nurse-coached squad has shown no signs of slowing down as they are placed second in the East with a 46-18 record.
During a recent conference call, Serge Ibaka expressed his utmost confidence with his team, saying that the Raptors are “locked in” in the upcoming Orlando bubble.
“I’ve been in the league for 11 years. You can see when people are locked in and they are ready mentally. So I can tell you right now, mentally, everybody is ready,” said Ibaka.
“We believe in us. We have the experience and we have the championship mentality already. We’ve got confidence. It’s time to go to work,” he reiterated.
The Raptors should be considered at least as a sleeper team in the upcoming playoffs. They have a veteran-laden cast rich with playoff experience and they have the second-best defence in the league.
Can they complete a repeat for the title? Only time will tell. However, it is expected that they are geared towards a deep run this postseason.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE BASKETBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.