Garett Fisbeck/Associated Press
The NBA is set to resume the 2020 season with the league’s top 22 teams on Thursday. Teams reported to Orlando, Florida earlier in July for preparation in what has commonly been referred to as “the bubble.”
Now, the efforts of those in the bubble are about to pay off, as real-game action resumes with the Utah Jazz versus the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Clippers versus the Los Angeles Lakers.
Here’s everything you need to know about the NBA’s impending restart.
How Does the Restart Work?
Let’s begin with the obvious questions: How will the 22-team restart work and why 22 teams?
The NBA decided to only include the top 22 of its 30 teams in order to limit the number of people involved in the restart while still allowing teams close to playoff contention a shot at making the field of 16. Those 22 teams will play an eight-game seeding schedule, which will be followed by a play-in system if necessary.
Full details can be found at NBA.com, but essentially a potential play-in will work like this: The top eight teams in each conference will advance to the postseason. However, if the eighth seed in a conference is four games or fewer ahead of the ninth seed, the two will have a play-in series—in which the No. 8 seed will need to win one game and the ninth seed will need to win two to advance.
Once the top eight seeds in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference have been decided, the 16-team playoffs will commence in a traditional conference format.
Play will take place at three separate venues at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
Opening Schedule, Viewing Info
Four teams will be on the court on Thursday, with another 12 in action on Friday. The opening two-day schedule for the 2020 restart is as follows:
Thursday, July 30
Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans
6:30 p.m. ET on TNT and TNTDrama.com
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
9 p.m. ET on TNT and TNTDrama.com
Friday, July 31
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets
2:30 p.m. ET on YES Network
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers
4 p.m. ET on NBA TV and NBA.com
Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards
4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington, Fox Sports Arizona
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN
Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs
8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports Southwest, NBC Sports California
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks
9 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN
Championship Odds, Playoff Predictions
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
While depth and team health are often deciding factors in the NBA playoffs, they could be even more important in this new bubble brand of competition. Several key players—such as Lakers guard Avery Bradley and Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza—have opted not to even join the restart.
This will further test the depth of teams with championship aspirations. For a team like the Brooklyn Nets, who have been decimated both injuries and opt-outs, it may require going deep into the roster just to make it through the seeding period.
“It’s a great way to evaluate players moving forward, maybe some new players coming in and what the roster may look like in three, four, six months from now sort of thing,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said of the restart, per The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer.
For teams like the Clippers, Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets, the restart and the ensuing playoffs will be very important—there is an NBA title on the line, after all.
Here’s a look at the current championship odds and some predictions for which teams will make the field of 16.
Odds to Win 2020 Championship (via Caesars Palace)
Los Angeles Lakers: +200
Milwaukee Bucks: +275
Los Angeles Clippers: +325
Houston Rockets: +1500
Boston Celtics: +1500
Toronto Raptors: +1700
Denver Nuggets: +2200
Philadelphia 76ers: +2500
Dallas Mavericks: +3500
Miami Heat: +4000
New Orleans Pelicans: +5000
Utah Jazz: +6000
Brooklyn Nets: +6000
Oklahoma City Thunder: +6000
Portland Trail Blazers: +7500
Indiana Pacers: +12500
Memphis Grizzlies: +50000
Phoenix Suns: +50000
Orlando Magic: +75000
San Antonio Spurs: +100000
Washington Wizards: +100000
Sacramento Kings: +200000
Playoff Seeding Predictions
1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Boston Celtics
4. Miami Heat
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Philadelphia 76ers
7. Orlando Magic
8. Brooklyn Nets
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Los Angeles Clippers
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Utah Jazz
6. Houston Rockets
7. Dallas Mavericks
8. Memphis Grizzlies