La Feria News

NBA returns

By DAVE FAVILA
LFN

The NBA officially shut down operations on March 11 with only a handful of games remaining in the regular season. Now, after what will be a more than four-month shutdown, it appears professional basketball will finally return next month, albeit without fans in the stands.

On June 5, the NBA board of governors voted to approve a 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season on July 31 with all games to be played at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

The 22-team field will include 13 Western Conference teams and nine from the Eastern Conference, which will all play eight regular-season seeding games to determine the final 16 that advance to the playoffs. The field of 22 includes the top 16 teams in both conferences and teams currently within six games of eighth place in the two conferences, which includes San Antonio, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, Washington and New Orleans. The other eight teams in the league that were not invited to participate, which includes the Golden State Warriors, were those well outside the playoff picture when the season shut down on May 11.

Teams will begin training in Orlando on July 9 and once the season resumes on July 31, the playoffs will begin almost immediately after the regular season concludes with the Finals format expected to include games every other day and wrap up Oct. 12.

Beyond that, the NBA also announced that the draft lottery would be held Aug. 25, the draft on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 season would likely start Dec. 1 with training camps beginning Nov. 10.

Naturally, several safety protocols will be in place to keep everyone safe, including making sure NBA players are socially distanced from the public and tested daily for the coronavirus. If a player were to test positive, the league will remove that player from his team to quarantine while his team would continue to get tested as they play.

All three NBA teams in Texas – the Spurs, Mavericks and Rockets – will be part of the upcoming 22-team tournament, although not much is expected of San Antonio, which will return to action with a dismal 27-36 record and in the midst of its worst season in more than two decades.

About all the Spurs have to look forward to is an attempt to make the playoffs for a record 23 consecutive time. However, they will return on July 31 four games behind Memphis for a final playoff spot with just eight games to play.

NBA teams set to resume play on July 31: Milwaukee, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Toronto, Boston, Denver, Utah, Miami, Oklahoma, Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Dallas, Memphis, New Jersey, Orlando, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Phoenix, Washington.

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