The NBA is back after nearly four months of no basketball due to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 4, the NBA’s Board of Governors approved a competitive format with 22 teams returning to play in Florida.
The start date is July 30, and two of the best teams in the league will headline the return. It’s going to be a battle of the Los Angeles teams as the Lakers and Clippers will square off against each other.
Here’s how the NBA season will play out
Of the 22 teams that will be participating, nine are from the Eastern Conference, and 13 are from the Western Conference. Each team will have eight games before the playoffs begin. All games will be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. The venues for all games will be inside the Arena, Field House, and Visa Athletic Center.
The playoffs will start August 17, and that will run through September 30 when the NBA Finals are set to begin. This certainly is a new look for everyone, but the NBA has worked countless hours to bring the season back. The top seven teams in each conference will clinch a spot in the playoffs. There will be the usual tie-breaker put in place for those seeds, and there could be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.
If there is a play-in tournament, it will be a best-of-two series where the No. 9 seed will have to win two matchups to take the No. 8 spot. The format for the playoffs will remain the same. There have been multiple players who have opted out of playing when the NBA returns for specific reasons.
Looking at the top teams in the NBA
Before the NBA season was put on pause because of the pandemic, multiple teams were having great seasons and playing at a high level. The Milwaukee Bucks will return with the best record in the league at 53-12. The Bucks have reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is having another MVP like season averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. The Greek Freak will return at 100 percent and will look to lead his team to the NBA Finals.
People should not forget about the reigning NBA champions, Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are right behind the Bucks and have the second-best record in the NBA at 46-18. While they don’t have Kawhi Leonard anymore, they have proved that they can still be a championship contender. Pascal Siakam has stepped up in a big way this season, and Kyle Lowry continues to provide that leadership at the point guard position. Going over to the west you have both L.A. teams who could meet up in the Western Conference Finals. The Denver Nuggets have remained as one of the top teams in the west as they have one of the best centers in the game in Nikola Jokic. It’s going to be exciting to see the teams back and competing. It should be very competitive come playoff time.
The Lakers and Clippers will square off in the first game
There will be two games on July 30, and that will be the Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans and the Lakers vs. Clippers. That L.A. matchup is going to be exciting because both teams came into the season as favorites to come out of the west. Both teams made some big moves in the offseason with the Clippers getting Leonard and Paul George and the Lakers getting Anthony Davis.
The two teams faced off three times during the season before it was suspended. The Clippers hold a 2-1 edge over the Lakers, but the Lakers won the last meeting. Come playoff time, and everyone will keep their eyes on these two teams to see how well they do. Will an L.A. team make it to the finals for the first time since 2010? We will have to wait and see.