The NBA’s board of governors expect to approve a return to basketball for 22 teams on Thursday, June 4.
The plan calls for teams to play the remainder of their regular season at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, home of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and the annual NBA Jr. World Championship. The complex holds the courts and practice facility space to host all 22 teams over the course of the regular season and playoffs.
Players and staff plan to begin training locally in early July, then transition to Orlando a couple of weeks later.
Unlike the NHL, the NBA plans for a shortened conclusion to the regular season.
Thirteen teams from the Western Conference and nine teams from the Eastern Conference will begin with eight regular-season games. After the regular season, the NBA has floated a plan for a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in the playoffs.
The top eight teams in each conference will join six other teams to determine playoff seeding in Orlando. New Orleans, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Portland plan to join the top eight in the West, while Washington represents the lone team added to the East.
Most of Colorado’s sportsbooks have closed their odds on the NBA champion until plans are finalized. Check back in the coming days for a comprehensive look at the lines being offered to CO sports bettors.
How The NBA Will Determine The Eighth Seed
In the Western Conference, six teams have a legitimate shot at the eighth seed. Although Memphis has a 3.5-game lead over Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento, two other clubs, San Antonio and Phoenix, are not far behind.
In the East, Washington is 5.5 games behind eighth-place Orlando.
Attempting to draw more television viewers, the league has proposed a play-in event for the last playoff spot. But criteria must be met by the ninth-seeded team at the end of the regular season to trigger the tournament.
If the ninth-seeded team ends the season within four games of the eighth seed, the two teams will play a possible two-game event. The eighth seed will need to beat the ninth-place team once to move to the playoffs. But the ninth-seeded club must win twice over the eighth-seeded squad to advance.
Once the playoffs begin, all rounds will be seven-game series. The league has marked October 12th as the final day if the finals need a seventh and deciding game.
How The NBA Will Handle Testing And Safety
Players and staff will not sequester in Orlando, but they will maintain safety protocols during their time at the resort.
The league plans to test all league personnel daily for coronavirus. If a player tests positive, they would be removed from the team and treated for symptoms. No player can return until they pass a series of Covid-19 tests. Other team members of the club will continue to play if they continue to test negative.
Players are allowed to golf at the resort and enjoy the outdoor restaurants, but only within social distancing protocols.
Walt Disney World is preparing a slow rollout in mid-July for its parks under strict guidelines. Resort workers must adhere to a series of rules for limited interaction with players, including no staff in players’ rooms and limited hallway capacity to avoid close contact.
How The New Plan Affects The Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets were sitting in third place at the time of the league’s suspension of games. They are seven games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the top spot in the West. And although that probably can’t catch the Lakers, they are 1.5-games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the two-seed.
Another concern for the Nuggets, however, is the possibility of falling in the seeding. Only four games separate third and seventh place in the West. It is conceivable that the Nuggets could start as low as the sixth seed to open the playoffs.
The Denver Post reported the Nuggets’ front office wanted to return under a straight-to-playoffs plan. However, they were against a group-play opening round proposal allowing sub .500 teams the opportunity to make the second round.