The NBA is officially back in business.
During a Board of Governors Meeting on Thursday, the NBA approved a plan to have 22 teams in action.
The NBA lists the tentative starting date as July 31.
The league is working to finalize the re-start plan with the National Basketball Players Association.
Both are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts, and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.
According to the NBA, the season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., as a single site for all games, practices, and housing for the remainder of the season.
The season restart would begin, according to the NBA, with eight “seeding games” for each returning team. The 22 teams consist of the top eight seeds in each conference, plus six teams that are within six games of the No. 8 seed.
At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.
Right now, in the Eastern Conference, No. 9 seeded Washington is 5.5 games behind No. 8 seeded Orlando
The situation is closer in the Western Conference, where No. 8 Memphis holds a 3.5-game lead over Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento. San Antonio is four games back while Phoenix is six out.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference then those two would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed in this scenario, the eighth seed would need to win just one game, while the ninth seed would need to win two games in a row.
The fact that the 76ers (39-26) will have eight games before the playoffs has to be perceived as a positive. The Sixers are currently the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers last played on March 11 in a 124-106 win over the visiting Detroit Pistons. Shortly after, NBA commissioner Adam Silver suspended the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The reason it seems positive to have eight seed games is because point guard Ben Simmons is expected to return from a pinched nerve in his lower back.
Simmons, more than anybody else, could use the time to get back to form. He missed the last eight games leading up to the break.
Simmons last played Feb. 22, but lasted just 4 minutes and 44 seconds before hurting his back against Milwaukee. The last time Simmons played a full game was Feb. 11 when he played 42 minutes, 43 seconds in a 110-103 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers. That was the Sixers’ final game before the All-Star break. Simmons recorded a triple-double -- 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists -- in the win.
In addition, Joel Embiid had missed five straight games with a sprained left shoulder before returning in that final game against Detroit (and contributing 30 points and 14 rebounds in just under 27 minutes).
Having eight games to get Simmons and Embiid in sync seems like a good amount.
Once the playoff seeds are finalized, the NBA will use its traditional playoff format. That means the top eight teams in the East and the top eight in the West will compete separately until meeting in the finals. There will be four rounds of best-of-seven series.
The NBA says that the Finals would end no later than Oct. 12
If the season does begin on July 31, the NBA says the NBA draft lottery would be Aug. 25, the NBA draft would be on Oct. 15, and the 2020-2021 NBA regular season would like to begin on Dec. 1.
In another matter, the NCAA announced on Thursday that men’s basketball student-athletes will have until 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes first, to withdraw from the postponed 2020 NBA draft and retain their eligibility.
G League Season Canceled
The remainder of the NBA G League season has been canceled, league president Shareef Abdur-Rahim announced Thursday.
“While canceling the remainder of our season weighs heavily on us, we recognize that it is the most appropriate action to take for our league,” Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “I extend my sincere gratitude to NBA G League players and coaches for giving their all to their teams and fans this season. And to our fans, I thank you and look forward to resuming play for the 2020-21 season.”
Like the NBA, G League play was suspended on March 12, and its regular season was originally scheduled to concluded on March 28.
The Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G League affiliate, finish the season sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 22-21 record.