With all 22 teams on the Walt Disney World campus and practicing, the NBA restart is closing in on officially beginning under its original timeline.
Four months away from basketball puts the players in a dangerous position of injuring themselves, so the NBA allowed teams a few weeks to practice and condition in order to get their bodies up to speed. As part of the acclimation process, the league also included a three-game exhibition period for each team.
The games are scheduled to begin on July 22 and go through until July 28, with the season resuming on July 30. According to ESPN, the first exhibition game for all teams will feature shorter quarters:
The NBA is tweaking the rules for those initial matchups, going with 10-minute quarters instead of the usual 12 minutes. The change is for several reasons, including not wanting to overly tax players after they went more than four months without games, and because some teams do not have their full rosters at Walt Disney World Resort yet because of the coronavirus pandemic. The change will apply to only the first exhibition for teams; their second and third exhibition games at Disney will use standard timing.
It is a small change, but a good one as the players will need all the time they can get to get back into basketball shape. Conditioning and timing are massive concerns for coaching staffs, and Frank Vogel admitted that he is tweaking practices to ensure the Los Angeles Lakers roster is not overworked with games right around the corner.
The good news for a team like the Lakers is they can use the scrimmages and eight regular season seeding games as a way to prepare for the postseason. Vogel has indicated that he will likely use all 17 players on the roster, so the team should in theory be more prepared than most heading into the playoffs.
Vogel on Lakers’ advantage in standings
At 49-14, the Lakers will likely walk into the playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference. They have a healthy 5.5-game lead in the standings, easing some of the pressure of maintaining their top spot.
Under normal circumstances, veteran-laden teams like Los Angeles would have likely sat important players near the end of the season, but the four-month hiatus means the team will need all the reps of live action to get themselves ready for playoff basketball.
“Whether it’s in the bubble or regular season, every time we step on the court we’re playing to win,” Vogel said. “That’s how you succeed in the playoffs, is to have that mentality. The standings really don’t mean that much, whether we were competing for a higher seed or trying to lock something in.
“If we have something secured and we still need to build rhythm, we’re going to continue to play without looking too much at the standings. The goal is to be as healthy and playing our best basketball come playoff time.”
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