A number of strengths will separate teams in Orlando with the OKC Thunder ranking among the elite.
As part of the 22 game return, teams will each play eight ‘seeded’ games. The NBA hasn’t released a specific formal itinerary but has indicated teams will continue where they left off against the participating teams in Orlando. Since it was the OKC Thunder versus Utah Jazz game that kickstarted the halt in season play, could that game be the first game fans get to witness in the restart of the season in Orlando?
As of today’s posting, these are the proposed timelines for the different segments of the restart:
- Eight seeding games between July 30th through August 14th.
- Play-in games August 15th and 16th (if teams meet ninth seed requirements)
- First round of playoffs: August 17th through August 29th
- Second round of playoffs: August 31st through September 12th
- Conference Finals: September 14th through September 27th
- NBA Finals: September 29th through October 11th.
Of note, the main changes from the initial timelines are starting one day earlier and the seventh game of NBA Finals (if necessary) ending one day sooner.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN provided some preliminary details on the restart. One of the more intriguing notes in Wojnarowski’s article is each team present in Orlando is expected to play one back to back set during the eight ‘seeded’ games.
The other noteworthy takeaway is the playoff format won’t have extended off days between games. Based on the broad stroke dates provided there are approximately 12 to 13 days for each playoff round. Wojnarowski’s article referred to it as the “NBA Finals format” stating teams would play every other day.
Historically, it’s common for teams to have two and three days off particularly after game two and prior to game three as clubs travel. The goal is to expedite all playoff rounds in order to finish as quickly and safely as possible. Should the NBA Finals run the gamut of seven games a champion would be determined on October 11th.
Four days later (October 15th) the NBA Draft would occur and a mere three days later (October 18th) free agency would start. That’s a very compact schedule but necessary in order to be back on the hardwood in December.
From a logistical standpoint, there are five key strengths the OKC Thunder can utilize to post a winning margin in their eight ‘seeded’ games in Orlando.