After a short but eventful offseason, the NBA looks to kick into gear on December 22nd. It feels we just finished watching the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat in the “Bubble Championship” and now we jump back into the real thing in a few short weeks. Preseason games begin in just 10 days as teams are putting the final touches on their rosters. They’ll have between 2-4 games to dust off the cobwebs and get ready for a 72 game sprint for playoff seeding. Here’s a breakdown of Covid protocols, changes and what to expect heading into the most uncertain season in the Association’s history.
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Of course, now that the NBA leaves the safety of the Bubble, they will have to adjust to life in the real world. As the NFL is finding out, maintaining Covid protocols over players, coaches, and staff present new challenges. Since the schedule has been compressed, one positive test to a key player could end up making the difference between the playoffs and the lottery. As of now, these are the Covid protocols.
NBA Covid Protocols
First and foremost, the NBA is expecting some players to test positive but won’t force a suspension or shutdown. Here’s what must occur for a player to return if they test positive:
- At least 12 days have passed since the latter of either the player’s first positive test or the conclusion of his symptoms.
- The player is asymptomatic and there are no concerns about reinfection.
- A team doctor has cleared the player to return.
- The team doctor has reviewed the case with a league doctor, who offers no further objections.
There are also caveats for players coming into contact with friends or family who have tested positive.
- Any player exposed to someone with Covid-19 may not enter a team facility, participate in any workouts or interact with other players or staff until a team doctor performs a medical and risk exposure review.
- The team doctor clears the player to return.
Christmas Day Games
Another safe bet is that Lebron shows off his talents on Christmas, arguably one of the NBA’s biggest days. Here’s the just-released tentative schedule for Xmas.
Pelicans Vs. Heat 12 PM
Warriors Vs. Bucks 2:30 PM
Nets Vs. Celtics 5 PM
Mavericks Vs. Lakers 8 PM
Clippers Vs. Nuggets 10:30 PM
All times EST
The play-in format proved valuable at drawing ratings. So for at least one more year the NBA has voted to keep it. Now, the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th seeds in each conference are given the opportunity to play their way into the playoffs.
At the end of the regular season, the 7th and 8th seeds play a single game to determine the 7th seed. Meanwhile, the 9th and 10th seeds do the same for the right to play the loser of the 7th vs. 8th game. The winner of 9th vs. 10th must beat the loser of 7th vs. 8th twice to squeak their way in. The 8th seed only needs to win once to keep their place.
Lebron To Rest?
Last month, Danny Green mentioned that Lebron James may rest the first part of the season to preserve his body after only getting about half of the offseason rest he normally would. You can all but guarantee that Lebron will be ready opening night to collect his ring. But what occurs after that is up in the air.
At this point in Lebron’s career, rings mean everything; expect some “load management” for the 2020 finals MVP during the regular season. That could lead to bettors to lay wagers on Anthony Davis for regular season MVP as more will fall on his shoulders.