Palawan, the National Basketball Association (NBA) management and teams are starting conversations around the resumption of the 2019 – 2020 season which was suspended back in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are still several scenarios being considered to get the league going again including which single venue can be used to house teams, hold practice sessions and play actual games (sans live audience) and it seems like Disney is the front runner to host the NBA in Florida.
Discussions about simply jumping outright to the playoff rounds with the current top 16 teams or to bring back the top 20 or so clubs that have a chance to still make the knockout stages. It doesn’t look like all 30 teams will be asked to come back. It’s a possible end of the season for, at most, 10 NBA teams as league and team representatives go around the plans to revive the season. The league has been out more than two months already to simply run the risk of playing too many “no bearing matches” if all 30 are asked to come back. The logistics and man-hours might be costly to bring them all back too.
It is best that the NBA resumes this season as a testing ground or litmus test for the new normal. More than just crowning the champions of this season, it will also give league organizers the actual games they need to experience to draft guidelines for the next season. The resumption of sports amidst a pandemic is untested waters and I believe the NBA will be ahead of the curve should this season’s playoff push ends up as a resounding success.
Live TV audience and video streaming will definitely be marketable and on-demand. I personally am rooting for a ranking system regardless of the conference so we could really see the top 2 best teams slug it off in the finals. I am personally rooting for an all L.A. showdown between the Lakers and the Clippers because I feel they are very well matched against each other.
An all LA Finale? (Lakers vs Clippers)
If this scenario does happen, we are talking about a matchup of one of the best offensive teams in the LA Lakers against one of the best defensive units in the Clippers. The Clippers switching defense to offset mismatches is flawless as can be. The big man switches to the small defender like clockwork whenever a screen or pick and roll happens that negates size mismatches. The Clips’ Montrezl Harrel, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are blue collared defensive players who don’t mind switching to help the likes of Lou Williams or Patrick Beverley when a defensive switch pits them against a bigger player.
Obviously, the Clips’ defensive rotation will match well against the Lebron James and Anthony Davis pick and roll. The Lakers can of course always throw the ball to their phalanx of shooters but the quick Clipper guards are athletic enough to chase them. It is going to be a good match up and this potential finals joust can go the distance and would most certainly be a pay per view and/ or live television gold mine. I am certain NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would want nothing less than a major crowd viewership to help make up for the missed revenue this season.
Other Finale Scenarios?
Bucks vs Lakers
The Greek Freak led Bucks of Giannis Antetokounmpo can also pose an interesting match up against LBJ and AD. The tall and lengthy Bucks may give the Lakers a good run for their money too. Imagine a starting five of Eric Bledsoe, Wes Matthews, Brook Lopez, Giannis, and Khris Middleton matching up against the Laker 5 of Rajan Rondo, Avery Bradley, Dwight Howard, AD, and Lebron. Height for height and pound for pound, that’s an even starting unit match up.
The bench players will play a critical role and could be the difference-maker here. The performance of the likes of Robin Lopez, Kyle Korver, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova of the Bucks are key ingredients to their success against LA however, we can’t underestimate Kentavious Caldwell Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Javel McGee, Alex Caruso, Danny Green, and Markieff Morris to give good quality minutes to cancel things out. I foresee another game 7 finals in this scenario.
An all East Showdown?
Bucks vs Raptors
Some may view this as a long shot but if the NBA decides to eliminate the conference champions in this season’s playoff format, it is very probably that an all east showdown may happen and the top 2 teams, the Milwaukee Bucks and the defending NBA champions Toronto Raptors could possibly square off too.
The Raptors have shown resiliency to continue competing this year despite the departure of Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers camp. This team saw the steady rise of a superstar in the making in power forward Pascal Siakam who pretty much covered most of the gaps vacated by “the Klaw”.
Backstopping Siakam is a playoff grizzled team that includes Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and the most improved player candidate in Fred Van Vleet. The Raptors seem to be shallow on the bench and may be classified as long shots to make the finals this year but their championship experience under the leadership of head coach Nick Nurse can not be taken for granted.
Sports will continue to thrive but just not the way we are used to. Let us just make sure that once all these sports open up, that we also follow the same safety precautions at our personal game venues to keep us all healthy and fit.
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)