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Clippings: The NBA may revamp the playoff format

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There are several options for how game play can resume this season.

Los Angeles Clippers v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Throughout the hiatus, it has been clear that the league is invested in completing the 2019-20 season if it can be done safely. There is simply too much money at stake to cancel the rest of the league calendar outright.

Over the weekend, there appeared to be a turning point with regards to resuming play when the NBA officially “engaged in exploratory conversations with The Walt Disney Company” about using Disney World as a campus site, per reporting from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. It no longer seems like a matter of if, but rather when. And when the league returns, the traditional regular season/playoff format will likely be thrown out the window.

The Athletic obtained a copy of the survey that GMs received concerning postseason scenarios. There are basic options such as advancing directly to the playoffs with the 16 teams as is, or playing out the regular season (perhaps not to 82 games, but each team would finish at the same amount) and using those standings for playoff seeding. Then there are the fun options like “Playoffs Plus”, which would involve a play-in tournament to determine the lowest seeds in the playoff bracket. The NBA had previously discussed play-in tournaments and changes to the regular-season schedule back in November before the pandemic.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN also floated the idea of the league reseeding the 16 teams by record irrespective of conferences for this year’s postseason. Windhorst was clear that he doesn’t think this idea will pass a vote with the Board of Governors, but it’s fun to speculate.

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Would this be better than conference-based brackets?

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In a reseed, the Clippers would be the no. 4 overall seed and face the Mavericks in the first round, which is the same matchup they would have in a normal situation. It gets trickier afterwards, however. They would face the winner of Boston-Philadelphia in Round 2, both of whom have given the Clippers difficulty this season and have unique advantages — the Celtics’ abundance of wings and the Sixers’ Joel Embiid — that would make life difficult in a seven-game series. Furthermore, this set-up would require the Clippers to beat the Milwaukee Bucks just to make the Finals.

If I’m Steve Ballmer, I’m voting no.

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