The NBA bubble has provided some memorable moments for basketball fans, and while four games have ended at the buzzer, some were better than others.
The NBA bubble had already given fans an enjoyable ride through the postseason prior to Sunday night, but Anthony Davis’s Game 2 buzzer-beater to lift the Los Angeles Lakers over the Denver Nuggets already ranks among the best highlights from the last few months.
The All-Star big man joined Luka Doncic, OG Anunoby, and Devin Booker among the players to win games at the buzzer since the NBA season restarted, and led the Lakers to a 2-0 series lead as a result. However, not all game-winners are created equal, and with Davis’s shot in mind, it seems fitting to rank the bubble’s most meaningful shots as the postseason continues.
4. Devin Booker beats the Clippers at the buzzer
Despite ultimately missing out on the postseason, the Phoenix Suns were one of the best stories of the NBA bubble, going 8-0 in the seeding games and nearly reaching the play-in game. While Phoenix ultimately fell short, Devin Booker finally looked like he figured things out, and his game-winner against the Clippers remains one of the best highlights of his young career.
The degree of difficulty on Booker’s shot cannot be overstated, with the All-Star guard hitting nothing but net on a perfect turnaround fade, even with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard draped all over him. The only knock on his shot for the purpose of rankings is that, unlike the rest, it did not come in the playoffs, and therefore cannot quite be considered in the same class as the others.
3. Anthony Davis puts the Lakers up 2-0 on Denver
Anthony Davis has given the Lakers a much-needed jolt in 2020 after the team missed the playoffs a year ago, and has them positioned as the title favorites with teams like the Clippers, Bucks, and Raptors all eliminated.
The Denver Nuggets have learned the hard way that Davis can beat opponents from every part of the floor, with the former Pelican scoring 30 or more points in each of the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. His Game 2 buzzer-beater to upstage Nikola Jokic’s tip-in was just the cherry on top.
While Davis’s shot was incredible, a botched defensive rotation by Mason Plumlee ultimately made it possible. Davis got a great look at the basket on a catch-and-shoot from the wing, and Plumlee could have completely prevented it, or at least made the shot more difficult, with better defensive awareness.
2. OG Anunoby saves the Raptors from a 3-0 deficit
OG Anunoby provided one of the best highlights of the playoffs when he knocked down a buzzer-beating three-pointer to save the Raptors from a 3-0 deficit, and later gave one of the best press conference answers in recent NBA history.
While Anunoby’s ability to get a shot off with just half of a second on the clock was remarkable, Kyle Lowry’s inbounds pass was arguably even more impressive. Lowry somehow lobbed the pass over the towering Tacko Fall, hitting Anunoby all the way on the other end of the court.
The Celtics certainly could have played better defense down the stretch, and while they eventually won the series in seven games, Toronto made it interesting with the Game 3 win, nearly overcoming a 2-0 deficit to advance.
1. Luka Doncic caps off brilliant Game 4 with stepback game-winner
Luka Doncic officially announced his status as one of the NBA’s best young players this postseason with an astounding first round against the Los Angeles Clippers, and his Game 4 showing on a sprained ankle remains one of the best individual performances in playoff history. Doncic finished the game with 43 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists, capped off by an incredible game-winning setback three-pointer.
The 21-year-old’s shot was the second-longest playoff buzzer-beater in NBA history, per ESPN, but it represented more than just a game-sealing shot for many fans. Doncic figures to be in the MVP conversation next year, and his postseason series against Los Angeles might have been just a preview for what is to come as he continues to improve upon a remarkable start to his young career.