The Return of the NBA
The NBA is set to return on July 30th and all teams will be in a ‘bubble’ at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The top 13 teams in the Western Conference and the top 9 teams in the Eastern Conference will be returning to NBA action. There will be no NBA FANS in the stands.
Each team will play 8 regular season games. There will be a play-in chance for the 9th seed if they are within 4 games back of the 8th seed. Currently in the Western Conference the Portland Trailblazers are sitting 3.5 GB of the Memphis Grizzlies. In the Eastern Conference the Washington Wizards are currently sitting 6.5 GB behind the Orlando Magic.
The Return of the Champs
The Toronto Raptors have benefitted from their time-off because it has allowed them to get healthy. The Raptors are currently sitting with the second best record in the Eastern Conference. It is impressive because they have been through an injury riddled season. The Raptors have also been able to stay game ready as we have seen many different workout videos and training sessions from their whole squad. Marc Gasol is looking in the best shape of his whole NBA career. This will be the anchor to the Raptors defense and boost to the ball movement on the offensive side.
The Raptors are a deep squad that can go 10-11 deep with playoff caliber players that can contribute positively. This condensed 8 season regular season and play off will be a tough grueling schedule. The strength of their bench will help them win this war of attrition.
The eight-games before the playoffs will be great for all of the Raptors players to work off the rust and be primed to defend their NBA title.
The Raptors, before the pandemic, have been on fire. Being thrown off the normal schedule, especially during a hot streak, can be a slow recovery.
The older players on the Raptors that were rolling, specifically Kyle Lowry, has been playing at an ALL-NBA level and time-off for any veteran players will take them time to get back into their groove.
The Return of the Playoffs
With the most likely-hood of the Toronto Raptors finishing second in the Eastern Conference, by the time the season ends, they will most likely be facing the Brooklyn Nets in the first round.
Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors will have great first round matchups that will give them extra games to really hit their prime, before they get into tougher play off competition. This will serve the Raptors & Bucks well, in the later rounds, while every other play off team (both conferences) will be facing tough competition in every round they play. This tips the tide, as I had mention before the 2019-2020 playoffs are going to be a war of attrition and an easier first round will help in the long term playoff run.
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BY: DAN CHANDRAN – a.k.a THE SPORTS REVERENDS
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