Finally there is some good news for NBA fans. The board of governors are expected to approve a plan that will bring 22 teams back from the months-long break and complete the season in ESPN’s Wide World Of Sports, with a goal of ending the season in mid-October. Under this plan basketball fans would have to bid adieu to teams like Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Minnesota.
13 Western Conference teams and 9 Eastern Conference teams will play to determine and NBA Champion. Under this plan there will be a play-in tournament if the ninth seed finishes within four games of the eighth seed. The Boston Celtics won’t be really affected by a play-in tournament as they sit in third in the Eastern Conference. A positive aspect of having an eight game regular season slate is they could pass Toronto for the 2nd spot in the East. They could also stumble through the mini regular season and fall to 6th.
Under this proposal can the Celtics do some damage in the playoffs? If the first 64 games were a sign, then buckle up for a wild ride. The C’s would face the 76er’s in the first round if everything stays status quo. Boston was 1-3 against Philadelphia this season, but one of those losses was the season opener. It’s hard to guard Joel Embiid, but the Celtics have held him to the 5th lowest points per game total in the eastern conference since he started (22.7 ppg). It would be interesting to see how the C’s would guard Embiid, whether it’s having Smart take Embiid near half court to instigate, or have Brown/Kanter team up in the paint. Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson can shoot the lights out, but Phildelphia hasn’t had to deal with Jayson Tatum since becoming a top 10 talent, and if the three’s start falling for JT Boston could make easy work of Philly.
Next up, based off standings, would be Toronto. The Celtics were 2-1 with the final matchup getting postponed. Raptors big man Pascal Siakam only played one game against Boston this season and had 33 points. But after Siakam, who is averaging 23.6 ppg ,who can step up to lend support? Kyle Lowry when clicking can go 6-10 from the three-point line, but he can also shoot himself into a funk. Kemba Walker guarding Kyle Lowry would be something to watch, it could turn into a shootout between the two point-guards. With no home court advantage for Toronto, this turns into a true case of let the best team win. If that’s the case, Boston can squeeze out a 7-game series victory.
Who knows what happens in the end for Boston, but if teams like Milwaukee, Toronto and even the LA teams don’t have the crowd behind them it could turn into a true X’s and O’s game, which is where Brad Stevens could benefit.
Originally I was not a fan of having numerous teams coming back because now the season won’t end until mid-October. This does give players a chance, however, to get into game shape for the playoffs and help coaches get their rotations in place.
Although the TD Garden won’t be rocking and booing Joel Embiid, there could be an advantage for the C’s. According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin there are some potential suggestions being thrown out there for the higher seed in a playoff series, including: the better seed getting the first possession of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters, one player on the higher team getting to commit seven fouls, extra coaches challenges and bringing in their home court. Most of those ideas seem gimmicky and open the champion to have an asterisk next to their title.
If there is a home court advantage being offered for a higher seed there are some realistic options. Have the higher seed’s sound system in the arena to help create some of the hometown atmosphere is one of them. Nothing will be perfect, but coming up with a true home court advantage is impossible without fans.
Regardless of results, I’m just happy to see basketball coming back and get ready to watch a chase for the championship and banner 18.
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