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NBA is Back with Seeding Games Starting Today

Basketball

When the NBA hit the pause button on March 11th, it turned the sports world (and really, the whole world) on its head. Although things still aren’t normal almost five months later, at least the NBA is finally back.

July 30, 2020
DAVID SHERMAN/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES
DAVID SHERMAN/NBAE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: When the NBA hit the pause button on March 11th, it turned the sports world (and really, the whole world) on its head. Although things still aren’t normal almost five months later, at least the NBA is finally back.

What’s the set-up?: Twenty-two of the league’s 30 teams are set to play in the season restart, which will take place under strict health and safety rules in a “bubble” at Disney World in Orlando, Florida (where, BTW, not a single player has tested positive for COVID-19).

  • When the league stopped play in March, there was a month left of the regular season, so the restart will begin with eight “seeding games” to make up for missed time. These games, combined with pre-pause records, will determine postseason standings.
  • Only 16 teams — the eight best from the Eastern and Western conferences, respectively — make the playoffs though, so the seeding games will also eliminate the bottom six teams. The tricky part? There might be a “play-in” tournament between the eighth and ninth seeded teams.

Whoa. How will that work?: Should the No. 8 seed finish ahead of the No. 9 team by four wins or less, the two teams will play a best-of-two series. The No. 9 team must win both games to clinch a playoff spot — otherwise, the No. 8 seed advances.

  • If the No. 8 and No. 9 teams finish with a gap larger than four games, there won't be a play-in tournament. We’re really hoping for a play-in though, because how drama would that be?

So fun. When do the playoffs start?: The seeding games run from today until August 14th, with August 15th and 16th saved for the “play-in” games. Then the postseason — which will have a traditional seven-game series format — begins on August 17th. Check out the full schedule here.

Got it. So who’s going to win?: The Milwaukee Bucks are heavy favorites to take the East, but the same was said about them last year...before the underdog Toronto Raptors spoiled their fun and won the championship. And we wouldn’t be surprised if the Raps do that again.

  • Otherwise, it’s the Battle of Los Angeles in the West, with the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers currently sitting atop the standings, and Vegas oddsmakers have LeBron James’ Lakers winning it all. But that seems too obvious.