Lake Buena Vista, Florida
It was the start of a new week and Lebron James had to raise his voice more than he has had to over the last few months. He had just walked off the court to answer press questions after the first LA Lakers practice of the restart, some of his team-mates staying on the court immersed in an enthusiastic and boisterous shooting contest. After four long months’ basketball was back.
However, the journey to this stage has been fraught with difficulties and in a somewhat confusing press release, the restart plan was announced on the 26 June.
Under the plans, 8 teams miss out on a return to action “the 22 participating teams will be the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference”
The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight “seeding games,” as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups.
Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The 2020 NBA Finals will end no later than Oct. 13.
To ensure safety it was decided that everything would be held at the Walt Disney Resort in Florida.
‘The NBA Bubble’ as it is now known, is a campus where hundreds of players, coaches, team personnel and media will be staying for the next few months. Each day, somebody from the BioReference laboratories swabs the back of the residents throats and noses, the COVID-19 test then swiftly sent away for analysis. Tests take, on average 12 to 15 hours to process before the result is relayed via email.
Perhaps the biggest news coming from Disney World in recent days is thatHouston Rockets star Russell Westbrook tested positive which he announced himself on Social Media.
Court Is In Session
At the time of writing full-scale practices have begun for all teams. Orlando Magic- the first to arrive at the campus were also the first back on the floor. By Saturday 11 July all participating teams have practiced at least once.
The Lakers and Lebron were amongst the last to make it to Florida with James’ Tweet a good insight into how the players were feeling in anticipation of the restart “Just left the crib to head to the bubble. Hated to leave the #JamesGang”
There is no doubt that there will be a period of adjustment for players and staff alike. Further insight into what life is like came from Denver Nuggets Shooting Guard Troy Daniels, posting a picture of his dinner provided to him by the NBA.
The result? An NBA Twitter meme storm like no other, Isiah Thomas perhaps with the highlight “No way Bron eating this LOL”.
Despite this it is clear from the first round of media interviews that the players are just as excited as the fans about getting back on the court. “It is great to be back after four months, we all missed it” said Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic.
Nets guard Joe Harris even keen to dispel rumours of sub-standard conditions on campus “For the most part, everything has been pretty goodin my opinion, they have done a good job taking care of us and making sure to accommodate us in every area as much as possible”.
Tip off July 30
The season will resume in earnest with a doubleheader, as the Utah Jazz face the New Orleans Pelicans followed by the LA Clippers against The LA Lakers. Fridays highlight will be the Houston Rockets vs the Dallas Mavericks whilst Saturday sees the Miami Heat matchup against the Denver Nuggets. The games come thick and fast through August. After four months out this should prove to be an NBA festival like no other