According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA is back. And they have a plan.
Play-in tournament in NBA's 22-team format would only be for 8th seed, per sources:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 3, 2020
- If 9th seed is 4 or more games back, 8th seed earns spot
- If 9th seed is 4 or fewer games behind, play-in: Single-elimination for 9th seed, double-elimination for 8th.https://t.co/d7X3X6d1p8
So the NBA's inviting 22 teams to Orlando: 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Eight-regular season games per team. Play-in for the 8th seeds. July 31-October 12. Vote tomorrow to ratify.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
The NBA's back.
Some quick takeaways - a more in-depth analysis will come in the days ahead here at GBB.
- Conference playoffs, not 1-16 seeding. Regular season games, not group play. Stability rules, familiarity reigns. As it probably should, given the incredible circumstances.
- The NBA really wants Zion to make a push to a play-in. The Memphis Grizzlies are currently up 3.5 games on the next closest team. 4 games is the cut-off. Coincidence? No. But not just Zion Williamson will get that chance, of course - Phoenix, Sacramento, New Orleans, and San Antonio will also be in the hunt.
- The Grizzlies did not get screwed. If Ja Morant, Taylor Jenkins, and company fall out of the 9 seed in an 8-game regular season run off with a 3.5 lead? They don’t deserve to be in. If they’re able to maintain that 8 seed spot, they have to be beaten twice in a play-in scenario whereas the 9 seed only has to be beaten once. It’s not perfect, but it never was going to be. Memphis was treated pretty fairly here, which is nice.
- The questions left now. What will the schedules actually look like? Since it is by conference in the east, will everyone just play each other once? Will the west be divided up by win percentage as much as possible? How do you balance the top (the Lakers, Clippers, etc.) going against the bottom (the Suns, Spurs, etc.)? With COVID-19 still very much in play, how will the league keep 22 teams safe as possible while logically only bringing the 16 current top seeds would have been “safer”?
There will be time for further diving in. For now? Rejoice, Grizzlies fans. Live NBA basketball is about to be back in our lives.