YOU probably didn’t notice it, but had there been no pandemic, we would actually be enjoying the NBA Finals series around this time.
Well, don’t fret as things are looking a lot brighter for the planned resumption of the NBA on July 31. Judging from how things are shaping up, it looks like the venue will definitely be Walt Disney World in Florida.
Specifically, the ESPN Wide World of Sports, a 220- acre complex with complete sports amenities located on the southern edge of the resort.
Players and staff could be billeted at any of the hotels inside the resort, and the plan is to reconfigure the ESPN complex into 20 basketball courts to allow the NBA to hold two games at once while allotting the rest for practice. Of course, there will still be no fans in attendance.
ESPN is also the top broadcast partner for the NBA, so getting the action streamed into our homes should be no problem.
FORMAT. As per NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, 22 teams will return which includes the 16 teams currently qualified to join the playoffs plus an additional six teams who will playing for the eighth seed. So there will be some regular season games, and what they term as play-in games (referring to the battle for the 8th seeds) and then the playoffs.
Based on this 22- team model, they are targeting the end of the season to be Oct. 12 with a plan to open the new season by the end of December.
BENEFITS. Now that the players have been in a forced pseudo-off season of about three months and counting, how do you think this plays out in terms of conditioning and which team will benefit the most?
By most accounts, players have expressed that they will need about two to three weeks of conditioning before getting into team practices and finally getting into playoff basketball shape. And that is assuming most of these players have actually been keeping themselves in shape while everything was in the freezer.
As professional athletes, it is their responsibility to be in shape while the season is ongoing, and technically, this is just supposed to be a de facto lull and it behooves them not to let themselves go and fall off the wagon.
Truth be told, with all that’s going on, especially in the USA, it is going to be more of a mental struggle to find that mindset and revert back to your normal life and routine.
That being said, I think the LA Lakers are in the best position to benefit from this lull because Lebron James will be well-rested and raring to go. I don’t buy the excuse that their team rhythm had been interrupted and they will struggle to regain it simply because it’s the same problem for ALL the teams.
Speaking of LA, their rivals the Clippers is also another team that will potentially benefit.
As we all know, Kawhi Leonard has been taking games off and load managing in order to be fresh for the playoffs and so we can expect him to be at full strength for this late push. The same goes for his crime partner Paul George who had been nagged with injuries.
A resurgent George and a well-rested Kawhi will be dangerous in the playoffs.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my daughter Julia Emmanuelle, who recently received the news of her admission to UP Diliman. It brought me back 31 years ago when I received that exact same notice albeit via snail mail. Cheers!