The NBA season had almost finished before the coronavirus pandemic. Even as the first reports of the coronavirus came out of Wuhan, sports seasons seemed like they would wrap up normally at the end of Spring. However, the United States’ first coronavirus case was confirmed on Feb. 26, leading sports leagues to shut down by mid-March. The final game was supposed to be on April 15.
Now that the United States is reopening, sports are trying to return, too. The NBA has rescheduled its season for July 30, with the finals rescheduled for Sept. 30. Here’s the format fans can expect–and how likely it is this new plan will come to fruition.
The NBA Season’s New Format
In a normal NBA season, teams play 82 games each, then compete in the playoffs.
That flew out the window when the NBA paused its season in March. By then, most of the season’s games had already been played. The standings were almost set to determine who would qualify for playoffs, so the season didn’t have to start from scratch.
The NBA decided to resume with the standings as they were when the season was paused in March. Then, they added eight seeding games to determine the final standings before playoffs. Each team will end up playing about ten fewer games than a regular season, but it’ll be enough to award the Championship Trophy in the Fall.
After those eight seeding rounds, the top seven teams will have a spot in the playoffs. Depending on the number of games each team has played, the teams in the eighth and ninth spots may have to play each other for a playoff spot. It’ll be challenging. The number nine team has to win two games against the number eight team to take that spot.
The playoffs will be the same as a regular season from there. Teams will play in a bracket until a champion is crowned. Hopefully, that team will be the Denver Nuggets.
How Do The Nuggets Fit Into The New Season?
The Nuggets had a good season in 2020. In March, the Nuggets were first in their division and third in their conference. There are eight games to go before anything’s certain, but they’ve got a good chance at the 2020 playoffs. Here are the futures at Colorado sports betting sites of a Nuggets Championship win:
|Denver Nuggets Futures||Probability of Winning|
The Nuggets are far from the favorites to win the Championship, but they have a fair shot. They’ve got infinitely better chances than the Spurs, Suns, and Kings with DraftKings odds of +50,000 each. (That’s a 0.2% chance at winning the Championship, but a $50,000 payout on a $100 bet.) Denver has stiff competition for the Championship game, but the Nuggets are far from a laughable choice.
Will The New NBA Season Occur?
Everything looked great for the Nuggets until their coach and Nikola Jokic tested positive for the coronavirus. The Nuggets also had to close their practice facility after part of their traveling party tested positive. However, everyone is expected to, or already has, recovered.
This highlights the dangers the pandemic poses to sports teams across the country. Colorado isn’t a hotspot like Arizona or Alabama (yet), but that’s what makes the NBA season more precarious. If the coronavirus can infiltrate the Denver Nuggets, what chance do the Phoenix Suns have?
One infected team can stop a season in its tracks. Teams must isolate for two weeks to ensure an asymptomatic player doesn’t infect another team. Player recovery is an issue, too. Depending on the severity of the case, it can take weeks to regain lung function. There’s a tipping point where a 2020 NBA season–even without fans–isn’t feasible. The NBA hasn’t reached that tipping point yet, but the Denver Nuggets are a stark warning to the rest of the league.
What To Expect From The NBA’s Coronavirus Season
The NBA has decided to resume the season by having each team play eight more games before the playoffs. It’s a path to the Championship with slightly fewer games than a regular season, but otherwise resembles a regular NBA season.
However, the NBA season could still end. Social distancing is impossible in any contact sport. The NBA also isn’t isolating its players, so their chance to return at the end of July is in danger. The Nuggets may have a shot at the Championship this year, but the NBA season could end because of the recent coronavirus outbreaks in the South and California.
We all hope for a safe NBA season to resume. But if the NBA isn’t going to isolate its players, it could find out how quickly the virus can spread and end a major sports season.