Professional athletes are creatures of habit. NBA’s new return plan will test this habit and routine. The board of governors voted to conclude the 2019-20 season at Disney’s wide world of Sports complex in Orlando. Twenty-two teams will play eight regular-season games, each starting from July 31 with the final game scheduled for October 12. The season for 2020-2021 will begin from December 1. Hence, this will not be an ideal situation for these 22 teams. These teams will have more to lose than to gain from 2019-2020 season, apart from the winners.
However, these circumstances will not have any bearing on the Golden State Warriors. Their injured players will continue to recover during this time until the beginning of the next season. Moreover, they can add talent through their lottery pick and $17 million trade exception deal of Andre Iguodala. There is only one month between the end of 2020 NBA final and the start of training camps for the 2020-21 season. Therefore, the team playing deep into the 2020 season in Orlando will be exhausted by the time next season arrives. The loser of the 2020 NBA final will significantly hurt its chances for the 2020-21 season. They will miss the championship and have tired players heading into the new season. This will be especially true if the runner-ups are an older team like LA Lakers or Houston Rockets.
This decision will affect LA Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks the most. They fought the entire season to gain home-court advantage and will now be playing on the neutral courts like the rest of the teams. Moreover, they also rely enormously on single players such as Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. On the other hand, LA clippers have enough bench strength to stay afloat through any short term injury to their players. Memphis Grizzlies had a tough schedule ahead before season suspension. They were likely to miss out on the playoffs as New Orleans, and Portland had rather easy fixtures ahead. However, this current plan puts worst teams out of season. This gives Grizzlies a better chance to make the playoffs than they had before the pandemic.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz got the short end of the stick out of this current plan. Utah Jazz will face either LA Clippers or Houston in the playoffs. Hence, their chances significantly decline with the new format. With an injury to Durant and Irving, Brooklyn Nets might play sloppily, which hurts their chances as well.
In conclusion, the current format gave hopes to some teams to claim the 2019-20 season championship. Meanwhile, it did hurt chances for the few others.
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