More than four and a half months after shutting down due to the coronavirus, the NBA returns this Thursday sheltered in the famous Disney World park and determined to crown the most challenging champion of the season in its history. .The competition will resume with a nod to the chaotic day of March 11, when the suspension of the season was decreed after the first positive of a player, Rudy gobert. The French center and his Utah Jazz will be the protagonists of the premiere in a duel against the New Orleans Pelicans of the young phenomenon Zion Williamson … if this in the end can be in the premiere.
On at 17:55
Next comes the clash between the two Los Angeles teams, LeBron James’ Lakers and Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers, two favorites to the champion ring.
The restart culminates a meticulously designed plan by the NBA to return to fan screens and end the pandemic-protected season, which has already claimed around 150,000 lives in the United States.
A total of 22 franchises (the 8 best teams in each conference according to the classification as of March 13 plus 6 teams that at that point were less than 6 games away from the 8th place in the East and West) resume the competition that has very marked ‘timming’. The regular phase will be extended until August 14 with eight games for each team that will add their balance to the one they had when the league was suspended.
On August 15 and 16, the so-called ’play-in’ will be played, if necessary, to determine the 8th and last place to play-offs in each Conference. To play, 9th of the positions must be at a distance equal to or less than 4 games in relation to the 8th at the end of the so-called ‘seeding games « (regular phase). If played, the 9th must win two games over 8th to access the play-offs, while the 8th will go into the postseason simply by winning a duel against the 9th.
On August 17, the top 16 finishers would start the play-offs. From August 31 to September 13 the Conference semifinals would be played and from 15 to 28 the Conference finals. The NBA Grand Final would kick off on September 30 and is slated to end no later than October 13.
In the so-called “bubble & rdquor; Disney World, with an investment of about 150 million dollars, the NBA has created a microenvironment with infinite rules and restrictions so that the virus does not reach players.
The teams will play on three courts of the complex ESPN World Wide of Sports without the presence of fans. The approximately 350 players stay at three hotels in the amusement park, where visits are not allowed until the start of the play-offs.
At the moment, the only known incident was carried out by Clippers guard Lou Williams, who was given a 10-day quarantine for visiting a strip club during his trip to Atlanta for a funeral.
Battle for the ring
The Toronto Raptors of Marc GasoHe (seconds in the East with a balance of 46-18 until suspension) will defend the scepter conquered last summer. But the Canadian franchise is going to have to fight very hard. The Lakers of Lebron James – who will look for his fourth ring- and Anthony Davis they are hungry for glory. When the league was suspended they were the leaders in the West (49-14).
Your neighbors, the Clippers of Kawhi Leonard and Paul george they aspire to breastfeed. They were second in the West (44-20) and they want to stop being in the shadow of their eternal angelic rivals.
In the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Raptors, the leaders finished Milwaukee Bucks of Giannis Antetokounmpo (53-12). The Greek international and MVP of 2019 and the top favorite to repeat this year, he aspires to reach his first final with the Bucks and begin, at age 25, a time of dominance in the league.
From here and given the special circumstances, everything is possible in the Orlando bubble and. If it serves them in the East, behind Bucks and Raptors were listed at the time of the suspension, Celtics (43-21), Miami (41-24) e Indiana (39-26). And in the West Denver (43-22), Utah (41-23) and Oklahoma and Houston (40-24). From here match. Eye to the Mavericks of Doncic (40-27). A final phase with absences and surrounded by a more than atypical situation. But at least the show can come back. Ball in the air ..