The NBA released the schedule for what it’s calling “seeding games” as the league plans to restart the 2019-20 season. Games resume July 30 with a TNT doubleheader featuring matchups between the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers.
All games will be played at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida.
Each of the 22 teams selected for the restart get eight games. If any of the teams currently on the playoffs bubble, including the Washington Wizards (5.5 games behind the 8th place Orlando Magic), can get within four games of 8th, a play-in tournament is triggered. The 9th place team would have to beat the 8th place team twice to reach the playoffs; the 8th place team needs to win just once.
As befits the weakest team in the field, the Wizards have a challenging schedule that will make reaching the postseason unlikely.
- Phoenix Suns, July 31 (4:00PM ET)
- Brooklyn Nets, August 2 (2:00PM ET)
- Indiana Pacers, August 3 (4:00PM ET)
- Philadelphia 76ers, August 5 (4:00 PM ET)
- New Orleans Pelicans, August 7 (8:00PM ET)
- Oklahoma City Thunder, August 9 (12:30PM ET)
- Milwaukee Bucks, August 11 (9:00PM ET)
- Boston Celtics, August 13 (TBD)
The Magic schedule is easier (though not easy) — two games against Brooklyn, and matchups with the Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans.
As I wrote earlier this month, the Wizards are the weakest team in the field by a significant margin and probably won’t advance. The seeding games do give them a further opportunity to assess young players.
In effect, they’ve just had a weird kind of offseason. While they weren’t able to play pick-up games or engage in organized activities, they did have time to work on their bodies and games. I’ll be interested to see if any of the youngsters show signs of progress since they last took the court in March.
All this, of course, assumes the games will actually take place. With COVID-19 infections spiking in Florida, Texas, California and other states, it’s a distinct possibility that league decision-makers or the players themselves may choose not to play.
ESPN reported this morning that 16 of 302 players tested positive for COVID-19. The Lakers Avery Bradley and Washington’s Davis Bertans have already indicated they won’t play when games begin.
If the pandemic isn’t under control in Florida by mid-July, or if additional players are found to have the infection when every-other-day testing is carried out, Commissioner Adam Silver and team owners may be forced to cancel the season.
UPDATE: I did a quick run of the Wizards’ chances to win each game.
- PHO 38%
- BRK 38%
- IND 30%
- PHI 29%
- NOP 34%
- OKC 27%
- MIL 13%
- BOS 21%
Does this mean the Wizards will go 0-8? Probably not. I estimate they have about a 6% of chance of losing out. And, a 0.003% chance of winning all eight. Given the quality of their opponents and the possibility that Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and Boston might not be playing at full effort in those last three games, I think it’s likely the Wizards get two wins in Orlando.