Nearly three months after the Devil (and Rudy Gobert) stole our joy, comes the news that the NBA will be making its triumphant return. I’m sure you have plenty of questions about how in the hell this will all play out, so I’ll do my best to answer them all.
Wait, so the NBA is really back?
Yup. But prayerfully it’s more along the lines of Soulja Boy’s greatest comeback of all-time than Dr. Dre’s Calabasas—I mean, Compton. Because that shit was trash.
How in the hell did this happen?
It’s been rumored for a minute, but on Thursday, The NBA board of governors approved a 22-team format to resume the season.
Hold up. Only 22 teams? But…
Yeeeeeeeeah, about that. Only the top eight teams in each conference and the six teams within six games of the eighth seed will be extended an invite—which means Vince Carter’s career is effectively over and the Golden State Warriors will be put out to pasture. So to clarify, these are the teams that will be participating in the NBA’s version of The Hunger Games:
Eastern Conference: The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and the Washington Wizards.
Western Conference: LeBron and them, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns.
The Knicks would’ve been invited to the party but their owner would much rather throw Charles Oakley out of Madison Square Garden than build a competent team.
Aiight, so the playoffs will have 22 teams?
Nah, they’ll still have 16, but all 22 teams will play eight regular-season games in order to determine playoff seeding. The top seven teams in each conference will automatically clinch a playoff spot, but the eighth seed could come down to a play-in tournament.
If the eighth-seeded team is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, then that conference will forego a play-in tournament. But if the ninth-seeded team is within four games or fewer of the eighth-seeded team, then a play-in tournament will take place.
The tournament is essentially a best-of-two series. For the ninth seed to get into the playoffs, they’d have to beat the eighth seed twice. Whereas if the eighth seed wins either game, they get to hurl confetti and celebrate by either getting their ass beat by the Lakers, Clippers or Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Congrats!
That’s...a bit confusing, but OK. Does this mean the playoffs will have a different format, too?
Nah. The playoffs will be business as usual: 16 teams with a traditional conference-based structure and, of course, a best-of-seven series in each round. At the absolute latest, the season will end in October.
October?! But doesn’t the NBA season usually start around that time?
Well, I mean, shit. With a tentative July 31 resumption date, when the hell did you expect this season to be over? Everything is getting pushed back. The NBA Draft Lottery has been bumped to August 25, the NBA Draft will go down on October 15 and next season is expected to resume on December 1. Consider it an early Christmas gift.
Gotcha. Considering we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, where will this all be taking place? And how will safety be addressed?
As much as I would’ve loved to see this all go down on a cruise ship, the NBA season will resume at Disney’s massive Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Players will report to the Disney campus beginning July 9 and will be subject to daily testing throughout the duration of the season. If any player tests positive for the coronavirus, the league will quarantine that player while the rest of the team will continue playing.
Staff are forbidden from going into players’ rooms and social distancing protocols will be in place.
If everyone is playing in the same arena with no fans, then what’s the point in busting your ass to get the No. 1 seed? There’s no home-court advantage.
So you’re really trying to tell me there’s no difference between playing the Brooklyn Nets versus the Boston Celtics in the first round? But I get your point, somewhat, as does the NBA—which is why they’re looking into ways emulate that advantage. Sadly, most of the proposed suggestions are complete dog shit.
The higher-seeded team being awarded the first possession of the second, third and fourth quarters, following the traditional jump ball to begin the game.
The higher-seeded team being allowed to designate one player to be able to be whistled for seven fouls instead of six before fouling out.
The higher-seeded team receiving an extra coach’s challenge.
The higher-seeded teams being able to transport their actual hardwood home court from their arenas to Orlando to try to preserve the feel of their home playing experience.
An off-court feature in which playoff teams, in order of seeding 1-16, receive first choice on picking which hotel they will stay at in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney World Resort. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.
Seven fouls?! Like I said: dog shit.
But welcome back, NBA. We missed you dearly.