It’s all but official.
On July 31st, the New Orleans Pelicans and 21 other teams are expected to resume games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World resort.
The formal announcement is pending a vote via the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday, June 4th at 12:30 Eastern standard time but it is expected to be approved. Adam Silver informed the Board of Governors last Friday that games are set to resume on July 31st, with Game 7 of the NBA Finals potentially finishing on October 12th.
All of the invited teams will play eight games, which will go towards the regular season standings and decide ultimate seedings. In the Western Conference, the eight and nine seeds will face off in a play-in tournament after the culmination of said games — provided the 9th seed is within four games of the 8th seed. The 9th seed will face single elimination while the 8th will face double.
So the NBA's inviting 22 teams to Orlando: 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Eight-regular season games per team. Play-in for the 8th seeds. July 31-October 12. Vote tomorrow to ratify.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
The NBA's back.
This is a considerable advantage for the eighth seed and principally for the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have a 3.5 advantage over the Pelicans. Usurping them with just eight to play will be a monstrous challenge, especially when considering the Pelicans easiest remaining strength of schedule has been removed from the equation.
To earn the ninth seed, the Pelicans will need to finish within four games of the eighth seed, which is more than doable. However, New Orleans just simply can’t afford to stay within striking distance of Memphis as they need to maintain a lead over the other Western Conference challengers. Among the other non-playoff teams, the Pelicans will have to maintain an edge on the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.
Thankfully, the Pelicans should be able to rely on the NBA’s best starting five, and any lingering minutes restriction on Zion Williamson should be a thing of the past. He was rounding into form after 19 games of action, and he’s continued to work diligently on his conditioning and rehab program during the suspension of play.
The biggest remaining question regards tie-breakers. The Pelicans had already claimed one over Portland, thanks to a 4-0 season sweep. In addition, they posted the following records against the expected competition: Memphis (2-0), Phoenix (1-1), San Antonio (0-1) and Sacramento (1-0). Note the two losses came in overtime against Phoenix, and in Zion’s debut against San Antonio, in which he was restricted to 18 minutes.
Sources: Joining the 16 current playoff teams in Orlando: New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Antonio in the West and Washington in the East. If the 9th seed is more than 4 games behind the 8th, No. 8 makes playoffs; Fewer than 4 games, a play-in tournament.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
A few other items of interest: Players will not be able to shower in arenas, bench players will be separated with inactive players in the stands and no guests are expected to be admitted until the playoffs begin.
For betting playoff odds on Zion Williamson, check out the odds I posted via MyBookie yesterday.
Let’s geaux, Pels!