Families are reuniting inside the NBA bubble. Watch these sweet moments unfold.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Toronto’s Fred VanVleet sat for an in-person and Zoom news conference on Wednesday outside a ballroom – a ballroom filled with practice courts, mind you – in a convention center on the Coronado Springs Resort at Disney World.
Making the scene more strange, as the Raptors guard answered questions about facing the Boston Celtics in Game 6, a steady stream of Celtics players, coaches and staffers walked by.
“Personally speaking, from what I know, I like the guys. But right now, I hate them,” VanVleet said. “I don’t want to see them. I don’t want to look at them. I don’t want to talk to them. It’s a little weird, but it’s just where we’re at.”
Just another strange scene that rarely transpires in a normal postseason.
Avoiding each other is nearly impossible in the series that is defined by both teams making it incredibly difficult for the other to score. Every possession is physically and mentally grueling.
They’re staying at the same Grand Destino Tower hotel at Coronado Springs. There’s not much to do, so they see each other near the same dining areas and at one of the lakeside restaurants players routinely visit.
And the normal dislike of an opponent by the time a series reaches seven games is doubled by life inside the bubble. That is spilling out with minor rumpuses, verbal crossfire and accusations of bush-league antics as the teams prepare for Friday’s Game 7.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse, as he bicycles, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens, as he walks, cross the same paths on their daily routines. Stevens calls it his “walk of sanity.” But how relaxing can it be when he’s constantly reminded of the series by seeing the opponent?
“A lot of emotions, things like that swirling, etc. I ain’t really going to speak on it too much,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said. “It’s a lot of emotions, it’s an intense series. Things like that tend to happen. A lot of testosterone. Ain’t nothing to worry about. We’ve got to be ready to fight.”
At the end of Toronto’s Game 6 double-overtime victory, players from both teams ran their mouths, were separated and sent to their locker rooms. Boston’s Marcus Smart had plenty to say to the Raptors, as did Toronto’s Norman Powell to the Celtics.
Welcome to the bubble — we’ve got fun and games!
In his postgame news conference, Boston’s Brown rebuked the Raptors’ coaching staff for what he thought were cheap sideline antics.
“That’s a respectable organization, and I expect them to act accordingly, etc,” Brown said. “Things seem to get out of hand at times from coaching staffs. Let’s keep it under control. Let’s keep playing basketball.”
He ended up answering a question about a Jayson Tatum turnover. With the score tied at 98 near the end of the fourth quarter, Tatum threw the ball out of bounds. He was trying to hit Daniel Theis in the corner near Toronto’s bench, but Raptors coach Nurse was also standing in the corner where the sideline meets the baseline. Tatum threw the ball out of bounds, thinking the person in the corner was his teammate.
“Sometimes, things seem to go overboard,” Brown said. “Grown men should be able to control themselves, especially coaching staffs.”
Said Tatum: “That was my fault. Can’t blame Nick Nurse. He’s not playing. My fault.”
Brown also may not have been happy when someone from the Raptors bench was yelling, “Hey, batter, batter” as he attempted free throws. Brown made both with 18.9 seconds left in the first overtime.
Nurse gave a brief answer after Game 6, saying his coaching staff didn’t do anything untoward. “We’re just competing,” Nurse said. Stevens declined to talk about it on Thursday.
But they get to see each other once again in Game 7.
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