Since the NBA made its return last July, all 22-teams have been playing hard as they make their last push before the start of the playoffs.
However, three teams have been surprising the league since its return by playing at a higher level than the rest. We don’t know if it’s the court, the food, the water or the pressure that’s been giving them a new found energy but these teams are certainly showing a different kind of play that has caught the rest of the league off-guard.
Here are the top three most surprising teams in the NBA so far.
#3 – Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have been killing it since the start of the NBA bubble. They are currently undefeated in its first three games since the restart.
Toronto had a strong first game by outplaying the LA Lakers, 107-92. They then continued their great play against the Miami Heat in a close game, 107-103 and capped it off with their third win over the Orlando Magic, 109-99.
The Raptors have been playing well because they’ve been working as a unit. Everyone has stepped up in all of their three wins. Kyle Lowry put up 33 points and 14 rebounds against the Lakers, then against the Heat, it was Fred Vanvleet who took the team on his back with 36 points and against the Magic, six players scored double figures for Toronto.
Since winning the game against the Lakers, everyone was convinced that the Raptors are the fourth team that has a legitimate chance to win it all this season. Even the King himself, LeBron James acknowledged how good Toronto is.
The defending champs came back down to earth against the Celtics, who beat them 122-100, but the 3-1 start on a brutal schedule is impressive.
It doesn’t get any easier from here either, as the Raptors will finish out the restart with games against the Grizzlies, Bucks, 76ers, and Nuggets.
The Raptors are sitting as the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 49-19 record.
#2 – Portland Trailblazers
The Portland Trailblazers are slowly sneaking into the playoffs with their impressive wins.
Portland are currently 3-1 in their first four games in the bubble. They beat the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in a close game, 140-135, behind the excellent scoring of Damian Lillard (33 points), CJ McCollum (29 points) and Carmelo Anthony (21 points). The trio combined for 83 points in that game.
The Blazers came up short in their next game against the Boston Celtics, 128-124. However, they quickly bounced back the next game by taking the big win over the Houston Rockets, 110-102, behind Anthony’s clutch plays in the last three minutes of the game.
Portland bagged their second straight win earlier behind Lillard’s 45 points and 12 assists, he also tied his career-high in three-pointers made with 11, against the Denver Nuggets, 125-115.
Portland’s three big wins improved their record to 32-38 (ninth in the West) slowly overtaking Grizzlies (32-37) for the eighth seed, who are yet to bag a win in this latter part of the season.
If they continue to rack up wins in the bubble, we could see a first-round match-up between the Blazers and the Lakers. If that happens, LA will be having a very tough assignment in their return to the post-season.
#1 – Phoenix Suns
If I told you that the Phoenix Suns would be undefeated in its first four games in the bubble, you’d probably say that I’m losing my mind because of the pandemic.
Welp. Phoenix are 4-0 since entering the bubble. Yep, you’ve read that right.
The Suns got their first win against the Washington Wizards, 125-112. They then pulled off a clutch win over the Dallas Mavericks, 117-115, in a duel between two future stars of the NBA in Devin Booker (30 points) and Luka Dončić (40 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds).
Phoenix rallied behind Booker’s 35 point, eight assist performance and pulled off another close game win over the West’s second best team, the LA Clippers, 117-115. D-Book hit the game winning shot over Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
The Suns continued to steamroll through competition as they bagged their fourth-consecutive win earlier against the Indiana Pacers, 114-99, behind DeAndre Ayton’s 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Booker’s 20 points and 10 assists performance.
D-Book has been on fire in all of their four games. He is leading his team in points with 28.0 points per game since entering the bubble.
The Suns are now 10th in the Western Conference with a 30-39 record rising from being the 12th seed since the resumption of the NBA season. Now, they have all of the momentum thanks to D-Book’s hot hand and Ayton’s constant double-double performances. It’ll be hard to count them out right away considering how great they’ve been playing and with New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis struggling to string some wins this season.
Do you think the agree on the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!