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What life will be like inside the NBA bubble in Orlando

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Starting July 7, life inside the NBA bubble for 22 teams of players and team staff will be ruled by a 108-page health and safety protocol handbook — one written in a tiny, Apple warranty sized font. The handbook dictates the rules about anything and everything with the NBA’s return to play.

What is in the handbook? What will life inside the NBA bubble be like?

Here is an outline based on sources who spoke to NBC Sports about the rules and regulations, plus reports from other media.

ARRIVAL

• From July 7 to 9, players will arrive at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando. Team arrivals will be spread out over three days to avoid congestions.

• Upon arrival, players will be quarantined in their hotel room until they have two negative coronavirus tests 24 hours apart. After that, players will be tested “regularly,” according to the handbook, although that could be daily or close to it for much of the time in Orlando.

• What hotels are the players at? Here’s the breakdown.

The Grand Destino is considered the primary player hotel, and if a lower seed team advances far enough they may be asked to move to the Grand Destino from their hotel.

• Yes, the Orlando Magic have to stay in an Orlando hotel. Letting them go home would defeat the point of a bubble.

• Each player will be given a “MagicBand” — a bracelet that serves as a room key and wallet throughout the hotel and Disney property. It also will be used to check-in players for testing.

• Players also can wear a “proximity alarm” that will notify the wearer if he or she spends more than five seconds within six feet of another person with the alarm. All team and league staff will be required to wear these.

• Everyone will be required to wear a facemask, except when eating, at a workout or practice, in their room, or if they are swimming or doing something more than six feet away from another person (laying out by the pool with nobody around).

• All the food will be cooked by Disney chefs on-site, and each team will work with a “culinary team” that will make every effort to design a menu that fits dietary needs of each team. Players can have private chefs who prepare meals off-site, which can be brought into the players.

• Disney is open to setting up dining experience for players/teams at some of the restaurants on the Disney property but outside the bubble area, or having that food brought into the bubble, according to friend of this site Keith Smith.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO WHILE IN THE BUBBLE?

• The hotels will have a players-only lounge area (with televisions and gaming areas, including NBA 2K, of course), plus barbers, manicures and spa services, and more. There also will be movie screenings, some DJ sets, cards for booray games, bowling (Chris Paul will be there nightly), and other games such as ping pong — but players are not allowed to play doubles. Seriously.

• There are pools at the hotels that will be open for use by the players. There will be hiking and biking trails for use by the players.

• There will be golf available, but no caddies. Doc Rivers is going to have to carry his own clubs.

• Players are encouraged to stay in the bubble. Arrangements to leave for major life events or emergencies — the birth of a child, sick relative, wedding — can be made with the league, but the league has to be informed and as far in advance as is possible.

• While players are allowed to leave the campus/bubble, he will face a 10-14 day quarantine upon his return and will have to have two negative tests. Also, the player will not be paid for any games missed.

• Any team staff that violates the rules of the bubble or leaves the bubble without prior approval will be removed and cannot return to the Disney campus. Teams will not be able to replace that person.

• Players and staff will have to sign a document saying they will abide by the rules of the bubble.

• There will be a hotline set up where players or staff can call and report a violation of the health and safety rules in the bubble. Insert your own Chris Paul “his mask is untucked” joke here (or how every Clipper is going to call and say LeBron James is in violation of the rules).

IF A PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE

• If — or, to be more practical, when — a player tests positive inside the NBA bubble he will immediately be moved to a separate location termed “isolation housing.” The NBA is looking at some rental homes outside the Disney property to use for this.

• The player will be retested to make sure this was not a false positive.

• Teams and the league will more closely monitor and test anyone who was in close proximity to that player between tests.

• The player can return to the bubble and his team after consecutive negative tests.

• A memo to teams told them the games would not stop because of a positive test and to be prepared for that. The exact quote is, “the occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel” the season restart. (What happens if one team has multiple positive tests impacting key rotation players will be something to watch.)

GAMES AND PRACTICES

Games inside the NBA bubble will take place at one of three facilities:
• The HP Field House will be the primary game court, it is broadcast ready.
• The Arena will have a game broadcast court plus has a couple of side practice courts.
• The Visa Center has a court that can be used for game broadcasts, but this will primarily be a practice facility.
• All three areas have weight and training areas, in addition to modern locker rooms (although not ones as nice as teams have at their home arenas).

• There will be about four hours between games, allowing time for a complete sanitization of the court, plus time for teams to do their standard pregame-warmup routines.

• There will be about 5-7 games a day during the seeding rounds, with some games not starting until 10-10:30 p.m. Eastern (which is 7:30 on the West Coast, a standard start time for the Lakers, Clippers, and Trail Blazers).

• Benches at the games will have two rows, just like at a regular NBA game. The players and coaches on the front bench do not have to wear masks (although it is encouraged for coaches), but coaches and trainers on the second row of the bench must wear masks.

Anthony Davis on sprained ankle: “Rolled it pretty bad… I’ll be fine”

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Anthony Davis has been the best Laker throughout the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets. Davis averaged 32.3 points a game while shooting 55.3% from the floor, and the Los Angeles Lakers are outscoring the Nuggets by seven points per 100 possessions when Davis is on the floor.

Behind the play of Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers are up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and now just have to do what the Jazz and Clippers couldn’t: Get one more win.

Which might be harder to do after Davis rolled his ankle midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night.

Davis stayed in the game after that, but could it impact him in Game 5?

“[My] Ankle feels fine. Got tonight, tomorrow before the game to get it back to, I don’t want to say back to where it was, but good enough to play,” Davis said postgame. “Rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”

Laker coach Fran Vogel noted that with ankles it is often the next day when there is a sense of the severity.

“We’ll see how it responds overnight, responds to treatment,” Vogel said. “Yeah, there’s always concern with an injury like that. It was good for him to play through it, but we’ll see how he responds overnight.”

With the Lakers just one win from the NBA Finals, if Anthony Davis can walk he will play on Saturday in Game 5. The Lakers want to close this series out, they have seen what happens to teas that let the Nuggets hang around.

 

LeBron James speaks more on Breonna Taylor, power of Black women

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The decision not to prosecute the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor in her home has frustrated and angered NBA players. A number of them have spoken out, including Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, who played his college ball in Louisville, Taylor’s home town.

LeBron James also has spoken out, saying the walls of Taylor’s neighbors got more justice than she did.

Asked about it after the Lakers Game 4 win on Thursday, LeBron spoke about justice.

LeBron also had taken to social media to talk about the challenges Black women face.

When asked about that Tweet after Thursday’s game, James was more than willing to open up on the topic.

“You just look at the history of America and the disrespect that Black women have gotten for the last 400 years. You can’t turn a blind eye to that,” James said. “When I look at my household and see my daughter, who is five on her way to six, my wife and my mom, rest in peace my grandmother, so many Black women have done so many things for me. Seeing the sacrifices they made, especially my mom when I was growing up. They were disrespected along the way and it’s still like that today.

“In the case of Breonna Taylor’s case, it’s just shown once again that the walls of the neighbor is more important than her life.

“So not only did I want to acknowledge all the queens in this world, all the Black queens in this world, but the ones in my life, the personal ones, too. I just kind of had a moment yesterday. I mean, I have a lot of moments, but felt like it was important to let Black women know that you’re not alone. No matter the disrespect or what they may feel, don’t stop. Because that’s exactly what they want you guys to do. They want you guys to stop. They want you guys not to be as powerful as you guys are, not as strong as you guys are, as determined as you guys are. They want you all to be at bay. They want you to accept what’s going on. For sure, I won’t allow that.”

Powerful words from LeBron, who once again is using his platform to speak for a lot of others with these sentiments.

Second chance points, clutch LeBron defense earns Lakers win to go up 3-1 on Denver

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It’s a simple and obvious truth about any basketball game: The team that shoots better usually wins.

The Denver Nuggets shot 50.6% in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, including 10-of-28 from three (leading to a true shooting percentage of 62%). The Los Angeles Lakers shot 47.5% overall and 10-of-30 from three (a true shooting percentage of 59.7%). The Nuggets shot better Thursday night.

However, the better shooting team does not win when it gets crushed in another key area.

The Lakers grabbed the offensive rebound on 40.4% of their missed shots — including at three critical possessions in crunch time — and scored 25 second-chance points to Denver having six. Combine that with an aggressive and attacking LeBron James and Anthony Davis getting to the free-throw line 28 times — Denver as a team had 23 free throw attempts — and LeBron playing fantastic defense down the stretch on Jamal Murray, and a team can overcome a shooting deficit.

The result was the Lakers holding off a resilient Denver team to win 114-108, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is Saturday night.

While the Nuggets came back from 3-1 down on the Jazz and Clippers, this series feels different — Denver may have run out of miracles. The way the Lakers closed out this game showed why the Lakers will not go the ways of Jazz and Clippers.

Once again, Davis was the best Laker on the floor, scoring 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting plus playing strong defense (his light rebounding numbers, five in this game, are overblown because the Lakers as a team are rebounding well).

But there are two key reasons the won the Lakers the game — two critical reasons they were able to hold off a Denver comeback when the Jazz and Clippers faltered in similar situations:

• The Lakers were dominant on the offensive glass, as mentioned above. They got a second chance on four out of 10 missed shots (the league average is about 26-27% of missed shots become offensive rebounds). Dwight Howard was doing it early, Davis was doing it late (plus Rajon Rondo had a critical one), but the Lakers getting a second chance to score and run off some clock down the stretch changed the game.

• LeBron James asked to guard Jamal Murray down the stretch — in the final five minutes of the game Murray was 0-of-3 shooting.

“LeBron asked for the assignment and obviously I granted it…” Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel said postgame. “Nothing was really working in terms of trying to slow him down until ‘Bron took that assignment.”

Vogel isn’t kidding. Murray was torching the Lakers, getting into the lane, and finding a way to finish — including maybe the best layup of the playoffs so far.

Murray finished with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting, but LeBron held him mostly in check down the stretch (Murray did hit four free throws).

LeBron also had a strong game despite his jumper not falling because he hunted mismatches, throwing the Denver defense into a scramble, plus LeBron commands a double team when he gets the ball at the elbow or on the block and that opens things up.

Another key for Los Angeles was a great first half from Dwight Howard, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first half while keeping the ball out of Jokic’s hands. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 13 points.

Davis rolled his ankle in the fourth quarter, limped around on it, stayed in the game and made some plays down the stretch. A slowed Davis would be a reason for concern for the Lakers.

“My ankle feels fine,” Davis said postgame. “I’ve got tonight, tomorrow, before the game to get it back to where it is, but it’s good enough to play. I rolled it pretty bad, but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”

If Denver is going to shock the world, it needs to keep Paul Millsap and his defense on the floor more, then the Nuggets need Gary Harris and other bench players to step up with big moments.

The Nuggets also need to find a way to slow LeBron and Davis. There may not be an answer to that question.

Watch Jamal Murray hit insane hand-switching layup around LeBron

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Are. You. Kidding. Me.

You are not going to see a better layup these playoffs than this one by Denver’s Jamal Murray, going around LeBron James near the end of the first half of Game 4.

Murray went up thinking dunk, had to change his mind because of LeBron, brought it down, went around him, and spun it in off the glass. Insane. It had some people on Twitter referencing the legendary Michael Jordan hand-switching shot. Not sure I’m willing to compare this Murray shot to a layup that helped launch a dynasty, but it’s close.

Murray had 16 in the first half but the Nuggets trailed at the break 60-55 in a high scoring first half. Anthony Davis had 19 to lead the Lakers.