The light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel just got a little bit brighter. On a day where it feels like all of the world is burning down, the NBA has some news that will at least give basketball fans something positive to talk about.
Allow me this brief indiscretion...
July 31 is still two months away, and a lot can change in the span of two months. Included in that is the exact format the NBA will adopt, in terms of whether we’re restarting the entire season with everyone, or skipping ahead to the regular postseason, or something completely different.
Sources: The NBA discussed four competition scenarios for restart with Board of Governors today:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 29, 2020
- 16 teams: Directly to playoffs
- 20: Group/stage play
- 22: Games to determine seeding, play-in tournament for final seed(s)
- 30: 72-game regular season, with play-in tourney
In terms of what is best for the Milwaukee Bucks, the first option is almost definitely the preferred option. It also happens to be the least risky option when considering COVID-19 exposure, since the fewer teams invited to Orlando to play basketball in a bubble results in fewer people sharing an enclosed space. The Athletic’s Eric Nehm already broke down the different formats and how they would impact the Bucks’ chance for a championship.
Went through the playoff formats at @TheAthleticWISC and started thinking about group play dynamics.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) May 27, 2020
Imagine these groups:
- Bucks get Celtics (Tier 2)/76ers (Tier 3)/Mavs (Tier 4)/Blazers (Tier 5)
- Lakers get Jazz (2)/Pacers (3)/Magic (4)/Kings (5) https://t.co/2Pwi3UzRYc
Some of you have already discussed the differences and which ones are less fair to Milwaukee (oldresorter has perhaps my favorite mental image on Twitter). Plainly speaking, any changes made to the standard format of the playoffs would put the Bucks at a distinct disadvantage (at least compared to the status quo). With a play-in tournament, or if conference seeding is cast aside in favor of getting teams with better overall records into play, the Bucks would end up playing a team that’s on a hot streak, without home court advantage. If the grouping idea is used (more teams, a completely different format to how the postseason traditionally works), the Bucks might end up with a schedule far more difficult than the conventional playoffs. Can you imagine if the Bucks were forced to play the Raptors and Clippers and the Lakers to capture the trophy?
We are not necessarily strict traditionalists here at Brew Hoop, but there is something to be said about sticking to the script when resuming the season that was put on hiatus. Change can be a good thing, but changing the rules in the middle of the season is wholly different. If the playoff format needs to be changed, teams deserve an opportunity to anticipate that change with more than a few quarantined months to adjust.
We’ll continue to monitor this story as it develops. But in the meantime, yay basketball (maybe)!