On Thursday, the NBA board of governors approved a 22-team resumption of the regular season. The season will officially restart on July 31 in Orlando, Florida.
With this restart comes a number of exceptions, stipulations, and changes. Most notable among these is the inclusion of only 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams, who will each play eight regular season games before the playoffs begin. The top eight teams in each conference have been invited, as well as New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento, and Phoenix in the West, and your Washington Wizards in the East.
Each team will play the next 8 games that were up on their schedule from March 11 onward, excluding teams who were not invited to Orlando. After that, the NBA Playoffs will be set… almost. To add excitement and de-incentivize tanking, the NBA has introduced a potential playoff play-in game for both conferences between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed.
To earn the play-in game, the ninth seed must finish the regular season within four games of the eighth seed. This play-in game will be single elimination for the No. 9 seed, and double elimination for the No. 8 seed, giving the eighth seed a slight advantage for their better record over the entire season. From there, the playoffs will begin like normal with seven game series in each round.
For context, there is a 3.5 game gap between the eighth seed Memphis Grizzlies and ninth seed Portland Trail Blazers in the West. In the East, the Wizards sit in ninth, 5.5 games behind the eighth place Orlando Magic. Washington’s remaining schedule is as follows: Boston, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Boston, Phoenix, Milwaukee.
This is exciting news for sports fans around the world as society slowly begins to inch back to normalcy. It is particularly exciting for fans of the Washington Wizards, who are unexpectedly getting treated to more basketball and a chance to mix things up in the playoffs.
The Wizards have lingered around the playoff line for most of the season, and there has been much debate among Wizards fans on whether it would be better for the team to tank and improve their lottery odds or push for a playoff spot. With the resumption of the season, Washington will be locked into no better than the ninth best lottery odds. They cannot improve their lottery odds. However, they can hurt their lottery odds if they make the playoffs. There is now zero incentive for them to tank. Expect the team to make a push for that play-in game against Brooklyn or Orlando.
Other Wizards Questions
It has been widely speculated that John Wall may return to play for the season restart. All indications from media close to the team and directly from the organization are that Wall will not return to the court until the 2020-21 season. However, in a recent interview, Wall mentioned that he is “110 percent”, which has stoked the rumor mill a bit. It’s unlikely we see him play, but there is a non-zero chance.
Fans also have no idea if players are in shape or not. Washington’s starting lineup has seen many different iterations this season. Player fitness coming back from this long layoff may influence who Scott Brooks decides to start. The only players whose starting spots are safe are Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura. There is no point in experimenting with different lineups, something that Scott Brooks has been heavily criticized for this season.
Ultimately, how the Wizards finish this season is of little consequence. It would be exciting to see them fight for a playoff spot, with the reward being a four or five game thumping at the hands of Milwaukee. None of that matters. It’s just good to have basketball back.