One of the many topics discussed by the NBA in the 10 weeks since COVID-19 shut down the 2019/20 season is the possibility of adjusting the playoff format if the season resumes. Reducing the number of games per series or even shifting to more of a tournament-style postseason could significantly cut down on the amount of time players and teams would have to remain in a “bubble” location to complete the season.
However, appearing on ESPN’s Get Up this morning (video link), Adrian Wojnarowski stressed that commissioner NBA Adam Silver continues to prioritize a best-of-seven format for playoff series, assuming the season can resume.
“Adam Silver wants to have seven-game series in the playoffs,” Wojnarowski told Mike Greenberg. “He doesn’t want to have shortened series early on. He wants to try to legitimize the champion as much as he can.”
While it seems inevitable that some NBA fans and observers will attach an asterisk to whatever team wins the 2019/20 title, maintaining that best-of-seven format would at least ensure that this year’s winner doesn’t make it through the playoffs under entirely different circumstances than usual.
Of course, the end of the season – again, assuming it can be completed – will still be very atypical. As Wojnarowski noted on Get Up and during a Wednesday appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (video link), the NBA still hopes to bring back all 30 teams – or as close to 30 as possible – this summer, and may need to provide some sort of incentive to convince those lottery-bound teams to return.
One of the biggest ongoing conversations around the league is how many clubs will be invited to the NBA’s “bubble,” how many will have an opportunity to make the playoffs, and what a potential play-in tournament for the final postseason spot or two could look like.
As Woj pointed out during both of his TV appearances, the league will have to walk a fine line as it attempts to make things fair for teams like the Mavericks and Grizzlies, who comfortably hold the Nos. 7 and 8 seeds, while potentially incentivizing a return for current lottery teams by putting those playoff spots up for grabs.