Basketball is back. Wow, I’ve been looking forward to saying that for far too long.
The NBA is coming back this summer to finish the 2019-2020 season and crown a champion. The season has been postponed since March 11th when the league came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through patience and hard work, the league and the NBPA have found a way to safely get the game of basketball back to the fans worldwide. The resumption of play will be played at the Walt Disney World Resort, where the teams and players will be living on a campus that has been nicknamed, “the bubble,” to maintain safety for the players, their families and league and NBPA staffers.
However, in the new normal we live in today, the league returning to action doesn’t mean things are back to normal. In fact, there is a lot to digest regarding how and when a champion will be crowned this season, but that’s why we’re here to help.
First, let’s answer the most blatant question: what teams are in Orlando?
There will be 22 teams packing their bags and heading down to Disney World for a chance to be crowned the 2019-2020 NBA Champions. The teams consist of the 16 teams that would’ve been in the playoffs if the season ended on March 11th, along with the six teams that sit at-most six games back of their prospective conference’s eight seed (the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland TrailBlazers, and Washington Wizards). The goal is to start the games on July 30th and to have Game 1 of the NBA Finals be on September 30th (If there were to be a Game 7 in the finals, the target date for that game would be October 13th).
Now, are we jumping right into the playoffs, or is there more regular-season action to be played?
It was concluded that the regular season was not ready to be over, so all 22 teams will be playing eight regular season games prior to the start of the playoffs. Prior to those eight regular season games, the teams will be playing three scrimmage games each starting Wednesday, July 22nd - oh yeah, and some will be televised too! Both the regular-season and playoffs will be taking place on the NBA campus in Disney World.
Now that we know who is heading down to check out where Mickey and Minnie live, let’s answer a few more questions. How will they determine which 16 teams make the playoffs out of the 22 teams?
There are two scenarios to discuss here: one without a play-in tournament and one with one. Let’s first take a look at what would need to happen for there to be no play-in tournament. If at the end of the eight regular-season games the number eight seed sits more than four games above the number nine seed, then there will be no play-in tournament and the top eight seeds from that conference will go on to the playoffs.
Now, let’s dive into the potential twist to this season’s playoffs: a play-in tournament. If the number nine seed is within four games of their conference’s number eight seed, then the two teams will partake in a play-in tournament. In order to give the number eight seed an advantage/home-court feel, the number eight seed will have to win just one game against the number nine seed, while the number nine seed will have to beat the number eight seed two times in a row. This potential play-in tournament gives this season’s playoffs a chance to provide the fans this year’s 16 best teams in a new/unique format.
There is still more work to be done for the Larry O’Brien Trophy to be handed to its rightful champion this year, but we have climbed mountains and jumped over hurdles to turn these three words into a reality: Basketball is back.