Welcome to the unknown.
The Kings and 21 other NBA teams are about to venture down a path of complete uncertainty. Even the all-powerful commissioner Adam Silver has no idea how the league restart in Orlando will fare, but the league has done its best to put safety measures in place.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the United States, basketball is coming back. While the uncertainty is real, we’ll try to keep you updated as best we can. Here are some of the questions that we now know the answer to.
When does the NBA season resume?
The NBA is now ready to restart the season. It all begins July 30 in Orlando on the Disney campus, but Kings fans will have to wait an extra day before seeing their squad take the court.
After nearly four months away, the Kings and Spurs are scheduled to tip off on July 31 at 5 p.m. PT. Over a two week period, the Kings will face a difficult schedule, including two games against the Pelicans, run-ins with both the Mavericks and Rockets and a game against the top-seeded Lakers to close out the season on Aug. 13.
Once the seeding round concludes on Aug. 14 and the play-in games (if necessary) are finished on Aug. 15-16, the opening round of the playoffs start on Aug. 17. The conference semifinals are scheduled to begin Aug. 31, with the conference finals starting Sept. 15.
The NBA Finals fire up on Sept. 30.
What is the return to play format?
The overall format is the same as a standard regular season, although the NBA made some adjustments to the schedule. Instead of finishing an entire 82 game schedule, teams will play a total of eight games, which will be added to their current standings.
All 22 teams were allowed to max out their roster at 15 players and bring up to two two-way players as well for a total of 17 players. Teams are also allowed to replace players who are opting out of the NBA bubble.
The Kings are one of five Western Conference teams chasing the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot — but there’s a twist.
All 22 teams in the Orlando bubble will play eight regular-season games to finish off the 2019-20 season. If the eighth seed has a four-game lead in the standings, they advance directly to the playoffs, where they’ll face the No. 1 overall seed. If the ninth-place team is within three and a half games, there is a play-in tournament of sorts between the eighth and ninth-place team.
Under the rules for this season, the eighth seed has a double-elimination, while the ninth seed has a single elimination. If No. 8 wins game one, they advance. If No. 9 wins Game 1, they’ll play a second game, with the winner moving on to face the No. 1 overall seed on Aug. 15-16.
All playoff series are scheduled for seven games, with single days of rest between each game.
Which teams will be in the playoffs?
In the Western Conference, the top seven seeds are basically locks to make the playoffs. They can move up and down in the seeding, but it would take a catastrophic finish to the season for the Dallas Mavericks to fall to the No. 8 seed and have to play in the play-in game.
Memphis holds the No. 8 seed when the restart begins. If they had to play out the entire 82 game schedule, their chance of making the playoffs was slim with five teams chasing them for No. 8. But in the abbreviated restart, 3 1/2 games is a lot of ground to make up over an eight-game stretch.
Barring a complete collapse, the Grizzlies will be the team with double elimination for the play-in game(s). Of the remaining teams, the Pelicans have the easiest road to the playoffs, but the Blazers have the additional advantage of being slightly ahead in the standings because they’ve played two additional games.
Sacramento is in the running, but the league’s decision to add the Lakers to the end of their schedule was brutal. San Antonio is a half-game behind the pack, but they are at a disadvantage due to playing one less game on the season and the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge is on the shelf.
Phoenix is two and a half games behind the three teams tied for ninth place and six games back of the Grizzlies. They would need to jump over four teams and make up 2 1/2 games on the Grizzlies to have a shot.
The Eastern Conference is much simpler. Washington trails the Magic by 5 1/2 games and the Nets by six games. Brooklyn is without all of their star power, and will be lucky to crawl to the finish line in 8th place. The Wizards would need a lot of luck to get within 3 1/2 games of No. 8, especially since Davis Bertans decided not to join the bubble.
Coming into the seeding tournament, the Kings face +1200 odds to come away with the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference (meaning a $100 bet would win you $1200). They have three players currently who have tested positive for the coronavirus, but all three are expected to make their way to Orlando.
2020 NBA League Schedule
The schedule is pretty simple. All teams play a total of eight games beginning around July 30, which is called the “seeding round.” Teams will play every other day, except for one set of back-to-backs.
Sacramento has a 10:30 a.m PT game against the Pelicans on Aug. 6 and a back-to-back against the Nets at 2 p.m. on Aug. 7. In a normal setting, that would be a difficult stretch, but Brooklyn is depleted coming into the tournament.
Following the seeding round, there is a short two-day window for potential play-in games on Aug. 15-16. After the 16 playoff teams are established, the first round of the playoffs begin on Aug. 17.
All rounds remain a best of seven series.
Odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship
The Lakers are favored to win it all, but the swap out of Avery Bradley for J.R. Smith, and the uncertainty surrounding Dwight Howard, makes the chase for a ring close. Oddsmakers have the Bucks slightly behind LA. Sacramento is a middle of the road bet to make it in as an eighth seed, but come in as +50000 to win it all ($100 bet wins you $50,000).
Trail Blazers +15000
2020 NBA season restart: Teams, format, schedule, location and odds originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area