The NBA is set to restart tonight

  • NBA betting odds return to the sportsbooks Thursday with two games on TNT.
  • The league returns with 22 teams playing in a bubble environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
  • The NBA has a comprehensive set of safety protocols and guidelines to help protect against a possible outbreak, and so far, the league’s bubble environment has been nearly flawless.

ORLANDO, Fla. – After an interminable four-and-a-half-month hiatus, the NBA returns tonight from its new bubble environment at the Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.

The first two games of the tournament tip off tonight:

  • 6:30 p.m. ET – Utah Jazz v. New Orleans Pelicans (TNT)
  • 9 p.m. ET – Los Angeles Clippers v. Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)

Six more games will tip off throughout the day on Friday, with broadcasting rights split between ESPN, TNT, NBATV, and teams’ regional networks

A total of 22 teams made the trip to Orlando in total—all 16 teams in current playoff position as well as the six other teams within six games of a playoff spot.

These teams will play a short, eight-game “regular season” to finalize playoff seeding and then the league will launch right into the 2020 NBA Playoffs, which will utilize the standard format of the top eight teams from each conference playing seven game series.

However, the ninth seed can also force a play-in game against the eighth seed to sneak their way into the playoffs.

How Did We Get A Bubble?

The NBA was the first major sports league in the United States to suspend its season indefinitely after Utah Jazz big Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 minutes before a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The league then spent months gathering information on the disease and planning a format where teams could safely return to play, as well as comprehensive safety protocols to prevent another catastrophic suspension of play.

Officials considered a number of different proposals for a restart, ranging from jumping right into the playoffs with the standings as they were when the season was suspended to a wonky tournament format involving all 30 teams playing for draft slotting.

The final 22-team plan was approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors on June 4.

What Safety Protocols Does The NBA Restart Use?

The NBA’s safety protocols have been the most stringent of any league so far, with frequent testing for players, coaches, team personnel, and media staying within the bubble.

All teams were allowed to bring between traveling parties of around 40 people, with 15-17 players, 18-20 support staff, as well as one public relations official and one social media content creator.

After arrival, all members of traveling parties were subjected to extensive nasal swab testing and a mandatory 10-14-day quarantine period before transitioning into a period of individual and team workouts.

To encourage social distancing while off the court, players can have their meals delivered directly to their room, and the league uses an array of cameras and other technologies to monitor for violations of social distancing and quarantine.

Because any breach of the bubble puts all 22 teams at risk, the league encourages players to report violators anonymously through a 24/7 hotline and enforces a mandatory self-isolation period for any player caught leaving the bubble.

Players who leave must quarantine for 10-14 days and produce two negative test results to be cleared to return.

Despite a few high-profile hiccups, including Sacramento Kings forward Richaun Holmes leaving the bubble to pick up food delivery and LA Clippers guard Lou Williams getting wings at an Atlanta strip club, the bubble seems to be working so far.

Only two players tested positive for COVID-19 on their initial arrival in Orlando and zero players tested positive as of yesterday.

What Teams Are Participating In The NBA Restart?

Eastern Conference Teams Championship Odds

  • Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) +280
  • Toronto Raptors (46-18) +1600
  • Boston Celtics (43-21) +1200
  • Miami Heat (41-24) +4000
  • Indiana Pacers (39-26) +20000
  • Philadelphia 76ers (39-26) +2000
  • Brooklyn Nets (30-34) +15000
  • Orlando Magic (30-35) +100000
  • Washington Wizards (24-40) +100000

Western Conference Championship Odds

  • Los Angeles Lakers (49-14) +200
  • Los Angeles Clippers (44-20) +300
  • Denver Nuggets (43-22) +3000
  • Utah Jazz (41-23) +6600
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24) +8000
  • Houston Rockets (40-24) +1400
  • Dallas Mavericks (40-27) +4000
  • Memphis Grizzlies (32-33) +25000
  • Portland Trail Blazers (29-37) +8000
  • New Orleans Pelicans (28-36) +8000
  • Sacramento Kings (28-36) +75000
  • San Antonio Spurs (27-36) +75000
  • Phoenix Suns (26-39) +75000

Only 22 teams made the trip to Orlando for the restart, but only about 18 or 19 of them have semi-realistic playoff hopes with only eight games remaining on the regular season schedule.

Teams that find themselves five or six games back in the standings at this point would need a remarkable run of good fortune to make the final playoff field at this point.

Potential Concerns

While the NBA appears secure in its new environment, the number of new cases in Florida has skyrocketed in the last three weeks.

While NBA players are securely kept inside the bubble, Disney World employees have to leave to return home after work, and they are not tested frequently the way league personnel are. If an outbreak does occur, this would be a likely cause.

Additionally, the players have mental and physical health concerns with playing in near isolation after an extensive period of inactivity. Players could be at an elevated risk of soft-tissue injuries, and the isolation of playing in a bubble will likely be taxing to some players’ mental health as well.

The bubble is ultimately the safest and most responsible way for the NBA to return to play, but it is important to keep these concerns in mind.

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