WITH the NBA Board of Governors overwhelmingly approving a new format to restart the 2019-2020 the season, the imminent return of the league has spawned a lot of intriguing possibilities.
With 22 teams returning to play, and with the introduction of a play-in tournament for the eighth and last seed, it seems anything can happen. Consider that everybody’s momentum has been interrupted. I don’t care what you say about the players getting individual workouts and keeping in shape- that’s their obligation and responsibility as paid professional basketball players.
Basketball is a team game and its all about team chemistry. Sure, some teams might find it easier to reconnect and pick up where they left off, especially with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers who I feel have the most fluid offense in the league--but it’s going to be far from seamless for most teams and that’s where the possibility of favored teams getting upset arises.
FORMAT. For the West, the returning teams are Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Thunder, Rockets, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs and the Suns.
For the East, those asked to return are the Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Heat, Pacers, 76ers, Nets, Magic and the Wizards.
Each team will play eight games for the regular season after which the rankings will be made based on the regular reason record. If the team with the eighth best combined record is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth best record, then the team with the eighth best record will earn the eighth playoff seed.
However, if that margin is four games or fewer, then both teams will complete in a play-in tournament, with the eighth seed having a twice-to-beat edge.
If you look at the current standings in the East, the Orlando Magic sits at the eighth spot with a record of 30-34, while the Wizards are at the ninth with a record of 24-40. The Brooklyn Nets are at the seventh spot with a precarious 30-34 record so the remaining eighth games to be played will be crucial.
As you know, whoever lands that eighth and last spot gets the chance to upset the league’s top team, the Bucks who will potentially be the first seed, barring any aberrations.
In the West, the Memphis Grizzlies occupy the eighth spot, but the teams occupying the ninth to 12th spots have all been invited to play which makes it more interesting as these teams are separated only by one or two games and so the remaining eighth games will make or break their chances.
If they continue to play well under the leadership of Lebron James, the Lakers should easily be the top team in the West. As you might have noticed, with the departure of the other teams with lower standings, the schedules for these teams have radically been altered.
For example, a higher seeded team could have had an easier path to the playoffs and ergo, a chance for a better seeding with a more relaxed pre-pandemic schedule. But with this new format, the schedule will obviously be tougher and they will have to work harder to keep their current ranking or to improve upon it.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Maristela Castellano Ostrea, a dear friend who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!