Euro 2020 Special

NBA: The Major Format Changes in Possible Playoff Plan

The NBA playoffs would’ve been set to start on April 18 if not for the coronavirus pandemic putting the season on pause indefinitely. As things stand, there are doubts as to whether the playoffs will actually push through given the current health crisis.

However, there is still a chance the NBA playoffs take place, although it won’t be the usual four-round, best-of-seven series format SBOTOP NBA fans have been accustomed to seeing.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver remains hopeful that they can find an ideal situation where they can return to action and hold a postseason in time to crown a 2020 NBA champion by Labor Day, Sept. 7.

Moreover, a recent players’ union memo indicates that the NBA has no deadline in place just yet for making any final decision about resuming the season.

“There is no timetable for future decisions and no ‘drop-dead date’ for any final determination. When the time is right and it is safe to do so, rest assured, the NBPA will participate fully in any plan as to how the 2019-20 season could be completed and we will keep you apprised of any such plans. The health and safety of players and participants will, of course, be paramount in any decisions.”

According to a recent report earlier this month, though, some team officials believe there is no chance of holding a traditional postseason.

The NBA will have to get very creative in terms of finding a format that will allow them to hold the playoffs in the safest possible way, and they are hard at work to find that ideal situation. There have already been several rumours going around about what the NBA might have in store.

One of the most pervasive rumours that’s made NBA 2020 news over the past few weeks is the league exploring the possibility of holding the postseason in Las Vegas behind closed doors.

Due to the threat posed by COVID-19, NBA playoffs might continue but behind closed doors in Las Vegas
Oklahoma City Thunder fans leave the Chesapeake Energy Arena after the NBA game against the T-Wolves has been postponed

There’s also been talk of the best-of-seven series being reduced to best-of-five before moving on to a March Madness-style one-and-done tournament.

It certainly makes sense for the NBA to hold the playoffs in a centralised location like Las Vegas. Playing home and road games, with all the travel that entails, is off the question at this point given the risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Having all 16 teams in one spot will allow for proper COVID-19 testing, which will likely be needed if any tournament is to take place. The NBA’s COVID-19 positive players have already recovered, and they will do everything they can to avoid further infections.

The NBA also holds summer league in Las Vegas, which should be able to accommodate several teams staying in the city.

It seems likely that the NBA will still have 16 playoff teams in the name of fairness, although it’s not out of the question for the league to consider reducing the number of teams in order to limit the number of games and travel even further.

This Las Vegas-only scenario would be unfortunate for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers. After their coaches did a terrific job of leading them to the top seed in their respective conferences, they will no longer get to enjoy home-court advantage in the postseason.

But the fact of the matter is that holding the playoffs in just one location is the most logical move given the circumstances. And regardless of where they play, those teams will still be favoured by the NBA 2020 to make it all the way to the Finals.

Similarly, shortening each series from seven games to five (or fewer) is the right move given the time constraints. There’s no reason to extend the tournament longer than it has to, so reducing the number of games would be in everyone’s best interest.

Having a one-and-done format would be an exciting change that would significantly increase the chances of a major upset.

But despite all the talk about these possible playoff scenarios, fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about the NBA returning just yet.

Even having a shortened playoff tournament would be a major logistical challenge. Players and staff would need to travel all the way to Las Vegas, where they would need to be tested constantly. That would require medical personnel as well as hotel workers to be on hand as well.

At some point, it’s worth asking whether all that work of setting up a makeshift playoff tournament is worth it.

But the bottom line is that the NBA is a business — one that is set to lose a lot of money — and will do all it can to mitigate those losses in revenue.

So even though a significantly altered playoff tournament is no one’s ideal situation, they will still do the best they can to get playoff games in amid the global pandemic.




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