Without the ability to operate within a bubble as they did to finish out the 2020 season, the NBA will have a number of different obstacles to maneuver that weren’t nearly as big of a concern.
The most obvious one is that the threat of players, coaches and all league officials potentially catching coronavirus (COVID-19) is much greater. This has been an issue within other leagues, particularly the NFL which has had a number of games postponed due to COVID outbreaks within team facilities.
With teams now having to travel across the country, the likelihood of that happening in the NBA is real and the league could very well have to postpone games throughout this season. That was a factor in the NBA only unveiling a schedule for the first half of the 2020-21 campaign.
But what exactly would cause games not to be played is unclear. According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, there isn’t any specific number of cases or a particular scenario that would immediately result in the NBA to cancel or postpone a game:
While the NBA expects positive COVID-19 cases throughout the 2020-21 season, league sources told ESPN there isn’t a specific number of positive cases or a precise scenario that could cause a game to be canceled or postponed. In conjunction with league and team health officials, the NBA will consider several variables, including the nature of the positive cases and when, where and how they happened.
The league is doing what it can to prepare itself for these potential scenarios. In addition to only setting a first-half schedule, they are also attempting to limit travel as much as possible by having teams play twice in the same city as opposed to making multiple trips throughout the season.
The NBA understands that there is no way they’ll be able to avoid any positive cases, but they are making attempts to limit it as much as they can. The league has said they will prioritize the safety of everyone, and with the steps they’ve taken to prepare themselves beforehand, they should be in good shape as long as it doesn’t get too out of hand.
Frank Vogel expects home-court advantage
Even though teams will be traveling this season, fans still won’t be in most arenas at the start of the season. There is no doubt the environment will be different as a whole, but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes there will still be some home-court advantage.
“I think there will be more of a home-court advantage for teams this season than there was in the bubble, because of travel more than the in-game environment,” he said.
“Obviously the arena will feel more comfortable to us than our opponents, but with no fans there, you’re not really getting that energy differential.”
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