Final four a repeat of 2020 bubble
Welcome back to The Bubble. This time, fans are welcome.
The last four teams in the 2020 NBA playoffs that were held in a closed-off bubble at the Walt Disney World complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., because of the pandemic are the last four teams in the 2023 playoffs as well.
Out West, it's Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the East, it's Boston and Miami. The West series starts Tuesday; the East series starts Wednesday.
The Lakers and Heat won the conference finals in the bubble. This time, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, it's the Nuggets (by a little) and the Celtics (by a lot) favoured to make it to the finals.
Those four rosters have changed quite a bit since 2020, of course, but the biggest names have remained in place — LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray for Denver, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for Boston, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo for Miami.
The Lakers and Nuggets haven't faced off since Jan. 9. The most recent Celtics-Heat game was Jan. 24. Much has happened since.
The only player to start for the Lakers in all four games against Denver this season was Patrick Beverley — who got traded to Orlando in February and ended up in Chicago. The Lakers used 18 different players against Denver this season; eight of them no longer play for the Lakers. And the leading scorer for the Lakers in their most recent game against Denver was Russell Westbrook, now with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Miami's Jimmy Butler hasn't played against Boston since Dec. 2. Kevin Love — now a Heat starter — was still in Cleveland when Miami and Boston last squared off.
The Lakers and Nuggets went 2-2 against each other this season, as did the Celtics and Heat.