Almost three months after the 2019-2020 NBA season was interrupted because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the idea of the NBA’s resumption on July 31, with 22 teams and at a Disney complex in Orlando, Florida, takes shape. This scenario is considered a favorite to be adopted if the top of the league votes to resume the competition. The vote will take place this Thursday.
The format played by the 22 teams would be a continuation of the regular phase with the addition of a kind of recap to define the teams that would advance to the playoffs. The format is Silver’s hottest bet, which has broad support from franchise owners.
What does it take for the format to be approved?
For the resumption of the season to be adopted in the mold seen as a favorite, NBA commissioner Adam Silver needs the approval of three quarters of the franchise owners, that is, at least 23 teams in favor in Thursday’s vote.
Such a format would include teams up to six games behind the last wave of their Conferences: Pelicans, Blazers, Spurs, Suns and Kings in the West and Wizards in the East. But why six games ago? It is a safety margin so that the inclusion of teams considered candidates for the playoffs is fair.
Historically, with the current number of games remaining until the end of the regular phase, the teams have not managed to make a start in the playoffs, being five games behind the last spot in the Conference.
Alternatives practically out of the running
Another scenario is still on the table, as a format with 20 teams where only the top four teams outside the current classification zone in the East and West (in this case Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and New Orleans) could participate in a new structure playoff.
The League Players’ Association has been reluctant about the idea of going straight to the playoffs without the rest of the regular matches. The claim is that at that moment it is important to have enough time to enter the court with minimal physical preparation in order to avoid injuries.
Remember, the intensity of a playoff game is greater when compared to a regular game. The possibility of a “normal” return with all 30 franchises in the league vying for their last regular-season commitments is largely ruled out.
When would it be possible to meet the champion?
If the July 31st date is confirmed in the package, the NBA will have to perform some regular phase games, games of such a recap and games of a complete post-season until the 2019-2020 champion is defined. The date the league has in mind as the 2019-2020 window closes is October 12th. That would be the day of a hypothetical game 7 of the NBA final.
The window is consistent with normal circumstances, in which the playoffs take place in just over two months. It is important to remember, the games being played in the Disney “bubble” would be a facilitating aspect in this conclusion of the season.