The NBA Restart is approaching quickly, and is set to premier at the end of this month. It’s getting harder and harder to tame the massive excitement that’s been building up for hoops fans around the world. Have no fear. Time moves steadily and July 30 will be here before we know it. Over the course of the past few weeks, there have been many developing stories. While these stories have been both encouraging and discouraging, Adam Silver has said it best: “We’re coming back because sports matter in a society. They bring people together when we need it the most.” Let’s take a look at the top 5 things to watch for during the NBA Restart.
1. COVID-19 Developments
Basketball or no basketball, we can’t forget about the thing that shut down the NBA and many other organizations in the first place. While the coronavirus may seem under control in some aspects, were still going to have to keep an eye on it. A number of key players have opted to not play in the Restart. I’d assume that that number could increase should some drastic COVID-19 advances come to light.
The league has issued that all players remain in the bubble during the course of the tournament. But we all know how important family is to these guys. More players could start to drop off as health situations change at home. It’s not pretty or glamorous, but anything that is able to change the world at this magnitude deserves a certain level of respect.
2. Breakout Players and Teams
Without question, this season will be very different from any season that most fans can remember. A change in environment can make the difference between a high school dropout and a Harvard graduate. This is why I feel that we’ll see some players and teams elevate their play to another level. Here are some positive scenarios that could come out of this new format.
We could see the Portland Trailblazers at a much higher level than they have been this season. It’ll be tough, but Damian Lillard seems to think that his team has a chance to make the playoffs. Watch out for small ball teams like the Celtics and Rockets. They’ve had time to get a better grip on their optimized play style, and social distancing rules could create more space for some extra 3-point attempts.
3. Extra Online Content from Media and Players
Although there’s an NBA championship on the line, it’d be foolish to say that players won’t try to enjoy themselves during the Restart. Bubble teams will be comfortably seated in the lap of luxury. They’ll have access to massages, food, video games, table tennis; the list could go on. I’d expect non-stop Instagram Live sessions, videos, Tweets, and the like from the athletes having fun in Florida.
There may not be that many people allowed physically at the NBA Restart, but somebody’s got to document this once in a lifetime experience (hopefully). For all of us hoops fans watching from home; I believe this will be some of the most interesting NBA content that we’ll see for a very long time.
4. Lakers-Clippers Showdown
Historically, the location of Lakers-Clippers games has never really mattered. The game is played in the same arena whether it’s a home or and away game. But with this NBA Restart, it’s a little different. The Lakers’ and Clippers’ first game will be against each other on July 30 at 9 PM EST on TNT. We all want to see it, and the league schedulers know it too.
The NBA Restart will have a distinct emphasis on this particular story-line. And it might not be a dumb idea to think that the two Los Angeles squads will see each other in the Western Conference Finals. Look forward to the power dynamic of LeBron and Kawhi, AD and PG, Kuzma and Harrell, KCP and Lou Will, Rondo and Beverly, Markieff and Marcus.
5. Separate Bubble for ‘Non-Bubble’ Teams
Many reports have said that a second bubble will be implemented in the city of Chicago. This bubble will include the 8 teams that were not invited to participate in Orlando. It’ll be awesome to see how this plays out, especially with the uncertainty that still looms with the main NBA bubble. We’ve all been deprived of our favorite sport for this long and any amount of NBA action will be greatly appreciated.
The anticipation is mounting, and we’re all excited. Although it’s slightly hazy for us NBA fans, there is one thing for sure. The NBA Restart is happening, and it’s absolutely a privilege to be able to watch the rest of this season unfold.