With NBA eyeing return in Orlando, what could playoffs look like?

Giannis Antetokounmpo Bucks vs Celtics
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Ricky Dimon

NBA · 2 years ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Could the New York Knicks be talkin’ about…playoffs?!?!

Under normal circumstances, that would most definitely not be the case. But to say these are abnormal circumstances we are living in would be a gross understatement. Given the multi-month hiatus currently being experienced by the NBA and many other sports, basically all options are on the table for this season’s potential resumption—especially regarding the playoffs.

Would the NBA finish out the regular season? Would it go straight into the playoffs? And how many teams will make the playoffs? Still the traditional eight per conference? Ten per conference? Twelve?

Obviously there are more questions than answers right now. Simply restarting the 2019-20 campaign in any shape or form is the main goal at the moment, and a neutral site at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. could make that a greater possibility.

“The NBA, in conjunction with the National Basketball Players Association, is engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company about restarting the 2019-20 NBA season in late July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida as a single site for an NBA campus for games, practices, and housing,” league spokesperson Mike Bass commented. “Our priority continues to be the health and safety of all involved, and we are working with public health experts and government officials on a comprehensive set of guidelines to ensure that appropriate medical protocols and protections are in place.”

If the NBA can find a way to save the season (and be sure to check out our daily NBA expert picks if it happens!), what a wild ride it could be later this summer. A total of 24 playoff teams would make it especially crazy. In that format, seeds nine through 12 in each conference would battle in a single-elimination tournament for the right to play against the No. 8 seed for the final spot in the traditional 16-team bracket.

“That would be a median between finishing the season with all of the teams and just teams still mathematically alive, no matter how unrealistic their chances were,” one NBA source said of 24-team format.

Let’s dissect how such a draw would look given the current league standings.

12 teams per conference playoff bracket

Eastern Conference

(9) Washington Wizards vs. (12) New York Knicks
(10) Charlotte Hornets vs. (11) Chicago Bulls
Winner of WAS-NYK vs. Winner of CHA-CHI
Winner of WAS-NYK vs. CHA-CHI vs. (8) Orlando Magic

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Winner of play-in tournament

(4) Miami Heat vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers

(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Brooklyn Nets

Western Conference

(9) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (12) San Antonio Spurs
(10) New Orleans Pelicans vs. (11) Sacramento Kings
Winner of POR-SAS vs. Winner of NOR-SAC
Winner of POR-SAS vs. NOR-SAC vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Winner of play-in tournament

(4) Utah Jazz vs. (5) Oklahoma City Thunder

(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Houston Rockets

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks

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