The NBA is coming up with a variety of ways to resume this season over the next few months. The NBA surveyed GMs on potential formats to continue the season, which includes:
- 16 teams go directly to the playoffs
- Completing up to 72 regular-season games
- “Playoffs plus” (play-in tournament)
- All 30 teams participate in a play-in tournament
It’s going to be tricky for the NBA to decide what they want to do to resume their season. They want to make it fair for every team, but unfortunately, that might not be the case. It’s unfair for the teams that were on the cusp of making the playoffs and having their season cut short. Players will refuse to play just to finish up regular-season games with no payoff. Damian Lillard already made it clear that he will not compete if there’s no chance his team even makes the playoffs.
Damian Lillard won’t play if the Trail Blazers don’t have a “true opportunity” to make the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/Fq6SY5tOnN
— ESPN (@espn) May 26, 2020
The NBA has different options on the table, but there should be one that sticks out and makes the most sense. For years, the idea of changing the format of the playoffs to a 1-16 seeding has been discussed but has never been seriously considered. Until now.
If there was ever a time for the NBA to experiment with new playoff formatting, now is a perfect time. The NBA should combine both conferences and restructure the seeding for each team. If this were to happen with no regular-season games being played out, the format would look like this:
How does this playoff format benefit the Celtics? Does it even benefit the Celtics? Regardless of whether the NBA resumes the season with the standard playoff format or with a new 1-16 seeding format, Boston would still play Philadelphia in the first round. The 76ers got the best of Boston during the regular season. But it’s a good thing the regular season doesn’t matter now.
Next up, they’d have to go through the Clippers. Boston and LA had two battles during the regular season and split the series 1-1. Jayson Tatum dropped Paul George and hit a three to send it to overtime, but the Celtics lost that game. A few months later, Tatum wasn’t going to let that happen again. He would go on to drop 39 points in a 2OT win over LA.
After that, they have to go through Milwaukee to make it to the NBA Finals. Boston and Milwaukee only played twice this season and split the series 1-1. The Celtics came back from nearly 20-down the first game to beat Milwaukee but lost the second time around after failing to make another miraculous comeback.
In order to make it to the NBA Finals, the Celtics would most likely have to go through big-name players like Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Celtics would have to beat Philly and two of the top-5 teams in the NBA to be rewarded with a matchup against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now that we’re here, I’ll be the first to admit it: this seeding does not look good for Boston. Philly would be Boston’s easiest matchup, and that comes in the first round. After that, they have to beat a juggernaut in LA and the best team in the league in Milwaukee. This is considering there are no big upsets and whatnot, but this is most likely what the Celtics would have to go through to meet LeBron James and the Lakers in the Finals.
The Celtics can beat any team in the NBA, and they’ve beaten every team mentioned above once this season. The only team that they didn’t split the season series with was Philly. I’m not saying the Celtics will win it all, but they definitely can. Especially now that everybody will be at full strength and motivated to make a deep playoff run, Boston can do it.
If the Celtics managed to win the NBA championship while having to beat the 76ers, Clippers, Bucks, and Lakers, I don’t want to hear a thing about an asterisk next to their name. Every fan base will say there’s an asterisk next to whoever wins the title unless their team wins it.
After suspending the season and jumping right back into everything months later, this championship win will be impressive for whoever wins it. The Celtics would have a tough road ahead of them, but if any team can defy the odds, it’s Boston.
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-Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck)
Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald