NBA Approves 22-Team Tournament Restart on Board of Governors Call

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 4, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball during a game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Credit: 2020 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The NBA has approved a plan to restart the 2019-20 season, which has been on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, as well as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, first reported the league's board of governors approved a restart plan Thursday that involves holding the remaining games at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Twenty-two teams will take part in the 2019-20 season's conclusion. They include the 16 franchises in playoff position at the time of the NBA's suspension March 11 and the six teams within six games of a playoff berth.

Those six consist of the Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

Teams will play eight regular-season games apiece before a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed in each conference. The league will then hold its typical four-round playoff consisting of best-of-seven series.

Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps of ESPN reported more info on how the regular season will play out:

"There will be up to seven games per day played over roughly three weeks during the August regular season, which the NBA has branded "seeding games," and it is likely there will be weekday afternoon playoff games during the the first round. Sources say the league will use three different facilities at first to stage games: The Arena, HP Field House and Visa Athletic Center, all at the Wide World of Sports Complex. As things progress, it will be reduced to two sites and then one."

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The latest possible date for the NBA season's conclusion will be Oct. 12, which is when a hypothetical Game 7 of the NBA Finals is scheduled, per Wojnarowski.

Players will undergo uniform, daily testing while in Orlando. A positive test for an individual player would result in that person entering quarantine and receiving treatment. Games would still go on.

The league halted play March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. That finding led to the cancellation of Utah's road game with the Oklahoma City Thunder that evening and soon prompted the association's suspension.

Sports organizations then either canceled or postponed seasons en masse in the following two days, including all five major European soccer leagues, the NHL and MLS. MLB delayed the start to its season, and the NCAA canceled its winter and spring championships.

Some sports have or will make their returns, however, with the UFC and NASCAR back in action and the PGA Tour set to do so June 11.

Now the NBA is poised to resume play as well.

The 22-team format allows the NBA to access a middle ground. Having all 30 teams come to Orlando may be excessive considering that some franchises at or near the bottom of the standings would be shortly eliminated from playoff contention, or have been in the case of the Golden State Warriors.

On the flip side, some teams had a fighting chance at the playoffs if the season kept going, so allowing them to continue their campaigns provides an opportunity to reach that goal.

As for what to watch for down the stretch, we'll see a conclusion to the MVP race between Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers guard/forward LeBron James, who should pilot their teams to No. 1 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively.

We'll also find out whether Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard can win a title with his third team in the past seven years and if the small-ball Houston Rockets can make a deep playoff run, among other storylines.

The answers to those questions will soon reveal themselves when the long-awaited resumption of the NBA campaign kicks off.