The NBA bubble is working, unpredictable playoffs ahead

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If the PBA is serious about coming back, it should take a hard look at the NBA bubble.

Several media outfits reported that the NBA latest release on results of coronavirus tests among players inside the Walt Disney World Resort have indicated numbers that are still perfect.

Reportedly, there are 343 players tested since the NBA had been releasing results beginning July 29 and none has been confirmed positive.

Whatever protocols the NBA had been implementing, they have been doing what they are intended to do, and provided the basketball action that some badly wanted as an alternative to get minds away from the coronavirus-induced stress, at least for a short while.

Both Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers and San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich expressed admiration to the league for the perfect results they have generated so far.

As a result of this, an unpredictable, wild playoffs is looming in the horizon.

There are two main differences of this year’s NBA post season from the previous years, the play-in tournament and the lack of homecourt advantage.

To complete the regular season, 22 teams went into the bubble to play eight remaining games each, called seeding games. The games were selected by the league from a team’s remaining regular-season matchups.

The seven teams in each conference with the best records compiled from the regular-season games before being suspended and the seeding games will automatically clinch a playoff spot. The usual tie-breaker scenarios will determine their placements.

The eighth seed, however, has to wait and see the final standings before knowing its fate.

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If the team with the 8th-best record in its conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the 9th-best record in the same conference, the 9th-best team has a chance to sneak in through a battle for the final spot between those two teams.

This is called the play-in tournament, an addition this year’s rules. The tournament basically the twice-to-beat knockout match the local collegiate tournaments used employ.

This is the scenario where the where the No. 9 seed will have to win two head-to-head matchups to take over the No. 8 spot. The 8th seed only needs to win one to retain its spot.

As of press time, the Orlando Magic has already locked up the East’s 8th seed but the West’s is still a wild, wild chase. Memphis, Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Sacramento, and New Orleans are still in it.

As already mentioned, the entire playoffs will be played inside the bubble, virtually making the homecourt advantage useless for higher seeds.

This is like Barangay Ginebra losing its fan-following that comprises most of the crowd during games.

Just how important this so-called “sixth man” is?

Let the Gilas-Kazakhstan matchup during the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, both teams’ final game, held on February 24, 2019 remind what effect a crowd can do to a team.

The main focus of Kazakhstan Head Coach Renatas Kurilionokas’ post-game interview was his lament for the cheers Gilas got from the crowd and the lack for his team, despite the game being held in their country, specifically at the Saryarka Velodrome in Astana.

With the home crowd and familiarity of a playing venue gone, factors in winning a playoffs series shifts to who can take advantage of a matchup, who can make adjustments of the fly and who can play consistently in conditions inside the bubble.

A number of lower seeded teams are finding their rhythm and making themselves look capable of pulling an “upset”. This could make this year’s playoffs different than any playoffs the NBA ever had.

If you’re a fan of teams like the Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and Portland Trailblazers, expect your teams to make legitimate noises are the are poised to make serious runs at the Larry O’Brien trophy this year.

If you’re fans of the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Toronto Raptors, it should be a bummer. That homecourt advantage is supposed to serve your teams well. Especially the small-market Bucks and the Canada-based Raptors.

By: Armando M. Bolislis

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