The NBA officially announced plans to restart its season – and the plan the league and players came up with even impressed a prominent public health voice.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute on Allergies and Infectious Diseases, who gained media fame as a trusted advisor to the federal government during the COVID-19 outbreak, told Stadium that the NBA’s plan was well-thought-out and “creative,” also noting that the return was not “reckless at all.”
So, what exactly does that plan entail? Here are the basics:
- The league has invited 22 teams to play eight regular season games to determine the final playoff standings.
- The restarted season will start July 31 at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
- Nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 Western Conference teams will participate.
- In the East, the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards will compete, with Washington trailing Orlando by 5.5 games for the final playoff spot.
- In the West, the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles 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 Phoenix Suns are competing. The top of the West race was intriguing during the regular season, but now that teams are playing in a neutral setting, homecourt advantage is not exactly motivating. The bottom, however, features six teams all within six games of each other.
- There are expected to be six regular season games per day until the regular season is complete, followed by the playoffs. Depending on how long each playoff series goes, the latest the season could last is until October 12, which would delay the start of next season.
With more than a month to go before the season officially restarts, there are still plenty of questions. Rosters are reportedly being expanded to 17 players to account for the heightened risk of losing players to illness. The number of non-players – including family and media – allowed in the restricted “bubble” has also not been decided. And there are even rumors the NBA could pump in fake crowd noise to make the arena feel less empty for viewers on television or online. Some players, including Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony, have also publicly expressed reservations about restarting.
Lillard’s comments about not playing came before the league finalized a plan that kept the Blazers in the playoff picture. He’s since changed his stance – even saying that he thinks his team could beat the Lakers if they met in the playoffs.
Anthony, meanwhile, has still said he’s “up in the air” about playing because he wants more details released from the NBA before deciding.
The NBA has published a FAQ page
that is frequently updated as the logistics of the restart are figured out.