Written by Ben the Pen
The NBA pkayers and owners announced on Friday that they have finalized a plan for a July 30 restart for the 2019-20 season.
The plan will include health and safety protocols, a hub site at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and a goal of taking collective action to combat systematic racism and promote social justice.
All 22 teams will play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complete, which features the Arena, Field House and Visa Athletic Center.
As for the health and safety protocol, the league has offered a rigorous program that addresses risks related to COVID-19 and focuses on “well-being of players, coaches, officials and staff”, which was “developed in consultation with public health experts, infectious disease specialists and government officials.”
“We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections.”
“It is very exciting to officially announce the restart of the 2019-2020 season,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “It has taken true collaboration between the League and the Union – special kudos to our Executive Committee and several other team reps – along with the continued support and assistance from medical experts, public health officials and many others. Additionally, our platform in Orlando presents a unique opportunity to extend the ongoing fight against systemic racism and police brutality in this country. We will continue to work with our players and the League to develop specific plans in Orlando as well as long-term initiatives to bring about real change on these issues.”
The format for the restart will consist of 22 teams, with six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference. All 22 teams will play eight “seeding games” as selected from its remaining regular season matchups. The complete game and national television schedules will be announced on Friday night.
After the eight seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seven seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference. If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage from regular-season games and seeding games in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best winning percentage would be the last playoff seed in that conference.
If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage in conference (Team 8) is four games or less ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in the same conference (Team 9), then those teams would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed in the conference. The play-in tournament will be double elimination for Team 8 and single elimination for Team 9.
In other words, Washington is 5.5 games behind Orlando entering the eight “seeding games”. If they can make up 1.5 games and finish four games or less behind the Magic, they will face Orlando in the play-in tournament, assuming the Magic remain in eighth place. But Orlando could pass Brooklyn, who is in seventh place and just ½ game ahead of the Magic.
If Washington can’t get to within four games of the eighth seed, they will be going home.
The same can be said about the Western Conference, which is a little bit more complete. Memphis is all but guaranteed to finish in the eighth spot at 32-33, seven games behind 40-27 Dallas. Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento are all 3.5 games behind the Grizzlies, while San Antonio is four games back. The NBA’s standard tiebreaker procedures will be used to break any ties on the basis of winning percentage.
Once that is all decided, the NBA will move on to their typical 16-team playoff field in a conference-based format with the NBA Finals ending no later than Oct. 13.