NBA is back & It’s a Whole New Game

Sportanatic - NBA 2019-20 season restarts on July 30, 2020; Image Courtesy - NBA.com
Sportanatic - NBA 2019-20 season restarts on July 30, 2020; Image Courtesy - NBA.com

A quick snapshot on all the new things that NBA 2019-20 season restart will have?

NEW YORK – March 12th, 2020 marked the last league match of the NBA earlier this year when Mavericks edged past Denver Nuggets with a 113-97 win. As science left the whole world in a whirlwind it was hard to fathom when and if sports could return back this year. Till the later half of June 2020 while NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his team were busy finding a way out to get season back on, it looked like that in the leagues 74 year history, this probably could be the first time when fans and teams wouldn’t get to complete the season. But as they say when there’s a will there always is a way and the NBA’s league management team under the able leadership of Adam Silver just proved that right to T as they announced the return of NBA from July 30th. Though this return will not be the one as the teams, players and the fans are used to and in its truest sense its nothing but a WHOLE NEW GAME. 

As the season gets underway today at the Walt Disney World, Florida here is a quick snapshot on what makes this season restarta completely different ball game and how it showcases the immaculate and commendable job done by Team NBA in ensuring that the 75th season gets its much deserved champion. 

The Teams – Based on a competitive format approved by the NBA Board of Governors and the NBPA, 22 teams will return to play during the 2019-20 NBA season. The 22 teams consist of the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.

The Season Restart – The season resumes on July 30 with participating teams competing in eight “Seeding Games.” The matchups for the Seeding Games will be based on the regular season games that were originally scheduled to be played after March 11, 2020, selected in chronological order. The Seeding Games will not necessarily be played in the same order that the matchups were originally scheduled to occur during the regular season.

If the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage (regular season games and Seeding Games) in a conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined winning percentage in that conference, then the team with the eighth-best combined winning percentage will be the eighth seed in the playoffs, and no Play-In Game(s) would be played, for that conference.

Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the first round of the playoffs will begin on August 17. The first day of the playoffs may move up if no Play-In Games are necessary to finalize the 16-team playoff field. The playoffs will be played in a traditional format (16 teams and four rounds in best-of-seven-games series). 

The eight remaining teams will compete in the Conference Semifinals beginning on or around August 31 and concluding no later than September 13.The four remaining teams will compete in the Conference Finals beginning on or around September 15 and concluding no later than September 28.

The two remaining teams will compete in The Finals beginning on or around September 30. Game 7 of the 2020 NBA Finals, if necessary, will take place no later than October 13.

Roster Rules – Teams are permitted up to 17 players in Orlando, including 14 or 15players on a standard NBA contract and additional two-way spots.

The Venue – All 2019-20 NBA Restart games are played across three venues at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to these here are a list of new elements and enhancements along with the existing policies and procedures in Basketball Operations as announced by the NBA today in an official release. These include a wider border around the sidelines, a revised setup for team benches and a new covering on officials’ whistles.

“New elements implemented for the season restart reflect a collaboration among the league, players, coaches, referees and team staff, underscore a willingness by all parties to adapt to a challenging environment, and reinforce our commitment to the health and safety of everyone involved,” said NBA President, League Operations Byron Spruell.

The new elements and enhancements include:

Sideline Border: To assist with perception and visibility on the court and adjust for not having courtside fans to help define the boundaries, the border around the court has been widened to 8 inches from 2 inches.  During a throw-in from out of bounds, the thrower-in may continue to step on the line but may not touch the floor over the line until the ball is released.

Team Benches: Team benches consist of multiple rows of seats (with appropriate distance between each seat) and are divided into three sections: players; coaches and team staff; and unassigned seats.  The 17-seat players section is divided into three rows, with each player assigned a seat by his team.  The 12-seat coaches and team staff section, slightly separated from the players section, is divided into three rows of four seats, with each person assigned a seat by his or her team.  The unassigned seats section is located near the baseline and reserved only for temporary use to enable communication between on-court players and concerned staff or member of the bench and these seats would be promptly cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Timeouts: During any timeout or period break, players and coaches can huddle like normal except they must sit in or congregate around movable chairs separate and apart from the team benches.  The movable chairs used during timeouts or period breaks are cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Officials’ Whistles: A cloth covering has been added to the referees’ whistles to prevent the spread of spittle.

Replay Officials: Replay officials, who make decisions on certain replay situations and facilitate the on-the-court review of others, are working on site at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida rather than at the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J.  The NBA Replay Center will continue to conduct reviews in conjunction with the on-court officials.

Injury Reporting Procedures: Five hours (local time) prior to the start time of the second game of a back-to-back is when teams must designate a participation status as Out, Doubtful, Questionable, Probable or Available, for each player on their roster and identify a specific injury, illness or potential instance of a healthy player resting that may affect any player’s participation in the game.

Baseline Positioning: Broadcast camera operators, photographers or videographers may not be positioned on the hardwood and instead must shoot away from the floor.

Scorer’s Table: The scorer’s table is surrounded by plexiglass.

Coach’s Attire: Head coaches and assistant coaches are permitted to wear polo shirts instead of business attire.

As this will be the first time NBA will be without spectators, the league is trying to recreate the presentation of the game on the fly. Given the circumstance and the mammoth of a task in the hands of the NBA League office, its obvious that there’s no blueprint for this, and without fans, the game will be made-for-TV. Now what we need to wait and watch is how the unique camera angles and electronic boards create an environment for the players to get that energy rush as they get with thousands of eyes pinned on to them. 

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