Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, then you already know that the NBA has suspended play until further notice due to concerns over the coronavirus.
The news sent shockwaves throughout the sports world, becoming the first major sports league in the United States to completely stop play. The NHL, MLS, and Major League Baseball have all followed suit and even the NCAA Tournament has been called off. It’s an unprecedented time in the sports world and nobody can truly know what the future holds.
However, there is still hope that the NBA will return at some point. If it does, there is talk that the league could go forgo the remainder of the regular season. If that happens, here’s what the 2020 NBA Playoffs would look like.
The NBA is suspended for at least 30 days
While there is no definite timetable set, the NBA is expected to remain shut down for at least 30 days, according to Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur. If that particular timeline sticks, that takes things to right around mid-April. The NBA had originally scheduled for the regular season to end on April 15, with the playoffs set to begin on April 18.
When the NBA shut down operations on March 11, all teams had played somewhere between 63 and 67 games. While there has been talk of finishing out the regular season and just moving everything back, another scenario calls for the regular season to end immediately upon the resumption of play and for the postseason to begin.
Could anyone beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the East?
Not that anyone is happy with this stoppage of play, but the Milwaukee Bucks actually might benefit from some time off. Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Bucks had lost three straight when play was suspended. However, they still have the best record in the league at 53-12 and are 6.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference. Here’s what the first-round matchups would look like.
- (1)Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8)Orlando Magic
- (2)Toronto Raptors vs. (7)Brooklyn Nets
- (3)Boston Celtics vs. (6)Philadelphia 76ers
- (4)Miami Heat vs. (5)Indiana Pacers
The Pacers and 76ers have the same record at 39-26 but the Pacers have the tiebreaker. The 76ers and Celtics have a long history and that’s always a fun matchup. The Heat and Pacers matchup is also quite intriguing as Indiana had won seven of their last 10 leading into the stoppage. It would be expected that Milwaukee and Toronto would win their respective series quite easily, especially if everyone is healthy.
The run to the NBA Finals likely runs through Los Angeles. With the Lakers and Clippers as the top two teams in the Western Conference, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that one of those two teams will represent the West. It would be extremely difficult to beat either of those four times in a seven-game series. Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets could certainly be a fun sleeper team though. Here’s what the first round of the Western Conference playoffs would look like right now.
- (1)Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8)Memphis Grizzlies
- (2)Los Angeles Clippers vs. (7)Dallas Mavericks
- (3)Denver Nuggets vs. (6)Houston Rockets
- (4)Utah Jazz vs. (5)Oklahoma City Thunder
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. The series between the Jazz and Thunder would have so much drama to it, wouldn’t it? After all, Utah was in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder when the madness with Rudy Gobert began. And here’s something else. Will anyone actually want to share a court with Gobert and Donovan Mitchell? If and when the season continues, will they be cleared to play? Nobody knows these answers yet and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The Nuggets vs. Rockets could be a very good series. Again, it’s safe to assume that the Lakers and Clippers would win their respective first-round series but seeing the youngsters like Luka Doncic for Dallas and Ja Morant for Memphis compete in the postseason against the best in the league will still be entertaining.
Hopefully, we get to see these series played. As the rest of the world waits to see what happens with the coronavirus, NBA fans wait as well.