"There's no home-court advantage in the Disney bubble" sounds like a Bizarro World translation of a common axiom, like "There's no crying in baseball" or "There's no time like the present."
But as the first round of the NBA playoffs is set to get underway Monday, "There's no home-court advantage in the Disney bubble" will become a way of life for the 16 teams that will continue to live in their hermetically sealed community in Kissimmee, Florida.
In the first round of the NBA playoffs, games will occur every other day, initially with four games per day until the first series is concluded. The top eight teams in the East and the West will play best-of-seven series.
Nearly the whole first-round playoff picture has come into focus, save for a play-in tournament to determine the final berth in the Western Conference this weekend between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trail Blazers or Phoenix Suns.
Here are the first-round matchups in both conferences:
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 8 Orlando Magic
No. 2 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 7 Brooklyn Nets
No. 3 Boston Cetics vs. No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers
No. 4 or 5 Miami Heat vs. No. 4 or 5 Indiana Pacers (TBD)
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies or Portland Trail Blazers
No. 2 L.A. Clippers vs. No. 7 Dallas Mavericks
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Utah Jazz
No. 4 or 5 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 4 or 5 Houston Rockets (TBD)
Top Stats and Best Highlights
The Boston Celtics may have dropped their final seeding game to a team that already had its bags packed to leave the bubble in the Washington Wizards, but the game wasn't meaningless to Javonte Green.
The Celtics' 15th man had a career outing on Thursday, netting 23 points and four rebounds. He was hot from the start, going 3-of-5 from three-point range in the first quarter.
It was a big day for the league's up-and-comers. The Utah Jazz got a sneak peek at what they can expect from two-way forward Jarrell Brantley, who has spent time developing with the Salt Lake City Stars.
All the 24-year-old did on Thursday was drop 13 points, six assists and four rebounds in 29 minutes.
Elsewhere in the bubble, another CAA product, Los Angeles Lakers two-way rookie Devontae Cacok, made his NBA debut.
With the No. 1 seed in the West locked up, the Lakers also dropped their game Thursday to a team whose time in the bubble was ticking away, falling 136-22 to the Sacramento Kings. But Cacok, who led the G League in player efficiency rating (29.8) in 2019-20, was a bright spot. He scored less than a minute after getting in the game and finished his night with six points, five rebounds and an assist.
The Memphis Grizzlies may not know if they have a spot in the first round of the playoffs thanks to their looming play-in tournament this weekend, but they head into it on a high note, after taking down the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks on the strength of career nights from Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant, who became the first two Grizzlies to post a triple-double in a single game in franchise history.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Morant and Valanciunas are the 12th pair of teammates overall to record a triple-double in the same game, including the postseason.
The Phoenix Suns know how the Grizzlies feel. After going 8-0 in bubble play with their lopsided win over the Dallas Mavericks 128-120 Thursday, they briefly awaited their play-in fate. If the Brooklyn Nets dropped the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix would be heading to the play-in to face Memphis.
Unfortunately for the Suns, the Trail Blazers squeaked by the Nets 134-133 to eliminate Phoenix from playoff contention despite their sparkling bubble record.
Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has dropped 154 points over the last three games.
But what the Suns needed to focus on Thursday was staying alive to even compete for a play-in spot, and largely thanks to the heroics of All-Star guard Devin Booker (27 points), they briefly did.
Pelicans-Magic may have had to go up against Trail Blazers-Nets in the late games, but Nikola Vucevic gave Magic fans something to watch, with 23 points off of 10/11 shooting.
The NBA play-in will commence Saturday between the Trail Blazers and the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West.