The NBA’s 2020-2021 Season was announced to return on December 22, 2020. At this time teams are returning to their home markets to play which also means teams will be traveling.
In case you live under a rock or completely ignored all media over this year’s pandemic you’re about to understand the dilemma. The NBA finished their 2019-2020 Season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida this past October.
Alright, moving on for my sports fans here we’ve all witnessed the MLB, NFL, and College Football canceling games or postponing them. The common factor here is that each league mentioned allows for travel and play city-to-city.
Well, again unless you’ve ignored 2020 completely, you’re aware of traveling, large gatherings, and just face-to-face human interaction is taboo at this time on planet Earth.
Risky business traveling during a season
Most recently, the NFL experienced moving the Prime Time Steelers vs Ravens Thursday night game to a Tuesday night. Oh, that was the Thanksgiving Prime Time game. You know the one where we actually got to see two great teams and division rivals on a holiday weeknight?
The NBA on the other hand has been a league that always seems to be on the right end of the spectrum. Finishing their 2019-2020 season in a tight locked down area of Walt Disney World, Florida resulted in zero positive COVID-19 tests week after week.
Perhaps the NBA has witnessed enough of the NFL, NCAAF, and MLB struggling with COVID-19 positive tests and built in a back-up plan to secure the finish of their season yet again.
NBA’s proposed 2020-2021 Season
Introducing the brand new and improved NBA Schedule format.
• Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games
• Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season
• March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break
• March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season
• May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament
• May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs
Also to highlight a caveat from the NBA’s announcement:
“The 2020-21 regular-season schedule will be released in two segments. The schedule for the First Half of the season will be released around the start of training camp. The schedule for the Second Half of the season will be released during the latter part of the First Half portion of the schedule. The Second Half schedule will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not scheduled in the First Half as well as any games postponed during the First Half that can reasonably be added to the Second Half schedule.Source
Season savior could be the bubble again
This could be a window of opportunity to restart the bubble in the latter part of the season? Why? Maybe COVID-19 postpones games, cancels games, or threatens us enough to pause the NBA season yet again.
Fair warning, the NBA has not released any indication of another possibility of finishing the 2020-2021 season in a bubble. My pure speculation is this happening due to where we are at with COVID-19 still to this day.
The NBA has traditionally been able to schedule an entire NBA season ahead of time in between NBA arenas competing with concerts, NHL games, WWE events, and other various use of city arenas. Surely, they should have had their jobs a bit easier with the lower usage of arenas at this current state of the world right?
Currently, four NBA teams have announced allowing a limited number of fans for home games. The others such as the reigning NBA Champions Los Angeles Lakers, have announced they will not allow fans to attend games.
2020-2021 NBA Playoff Bubble?
This leads to a little bit of speculation with the few details we do have. No specific schedule for the latter part of the season yet, hardly any teams committing to fans in their arenas, and another play-in tournament sometime in May 2021.
The biggest assumption here is that the proposed schedule may include another NBA Bubble opportunity. Worst-case scenario, you finish the most important part of the season for about two months under the ball and chain. Will the NBA try Las Vegas? Return to Orlando? Who knows but location shouldn’t matter since they’ve pulled it off once.
I’m sure the NBA has learned a lot of the pros and cons of the bubble life. Family, mental health, and the food in the first week were a part of the concern for players in the 2020 bubble.
Amid a pandemic and social justice reform movement, the NBA did not shy away from attempting to finish a season. Giving the 2020-2021 Season a bit of a test run at some sort of normalcy is worth a shot. Can the NBA do anything different than the NFL, MLB, or NCAA to keep any sort of positive COVID-19 test results to a minimum impact or none at all?
If your bookie has a current line for the NBA finishing in a bubble this season, however, I’d tease taking the likelihood of this happening. Especially if the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains the same next February or March.