Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard said Wednesday the lack of travel and fans in attendance have lessened the meaning of seeds heading into the 2020 NBA playoffs inside the bubble at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida.
Leonard and the Clippers scored a 124-111 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday to secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, but the reigning Finals MVP downplayed its importance.
"Right now, it doesn't seem like seeds matter," he told reporters. "I mean, just like tonight, we played Denver. We're not traveling there or pushing through that altitude that they're used to playing to at home. Also fans. But the little things like that, you know, just traveling to that different city and trying to establish yourself and see what routine you can make out there, those are pretty much the difficulties of ballgames in the playoffs [that aren't in the bubble]."
The Clippers own the fourth-best home record in the NBA this season at 26-9, behind only the Philadelphia 76ers (31-4), Milwaukee Bucks (30-5) and Miami Heat (29-7).
None of those teams will benefit from home-court advantage, with all games being played in Orlando.
Paul George, Leonard's teammate with L.A., explained the situation likely helps the lower seeds, who would typically have to win at least one true road game to advance, but shouldn't take away from the Clippers' confidence.
"It's a lot of unknowns here," he said. "But I'm confident. I think our group is confident. There's nothing to be unconfident about. It's an even playing field."
The Clippers, who've posted a 4-3 record in the bubble, are set for a first-round clash with Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and the Dallas Mavericks. It's a matchup that showcases the remarkable depth of the West.
Leonard, George and Co. are the oddsmakers' second choice (+170) behind only the rival Los Angeles Lakers (+140) to win the West, per Caesars Palace. They're also tied with the Bucks (both +300) in NBA championship odds, with the Lakers (+200) leading the way.
It'll be intriguing to see whether this year's playoffs feature an increase in the number of upsets without home-court advantage in place, though. That combined with the four-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic has created a unique set of circumstances for the postseason.
Talent tends to win out in the end, however, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the battle of Los Angeles still comes to fruition in the Western Conference Finals.