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2020 NBA return format: Schedule, teams, location, standings, and details

2020 NBA return format: Schedule, teams, location, standings, and details

The 2019-20 NBA season will have a conclusion.

The league's Board of Governors have approved a 22-team plan to resume the season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and each team will play an eight-game schedule to determine seeding for the 2020 NBA playoffs. 

Here's everything you need to know about the NBA's return inside a "bubble" in Orlando.

Who are the teams going to Orlando? What are the NBA standings?

Nine returning teams are from the Eastern Conference and 13 are from the Western Conference. In the East, only Washington has a chance to jump into playoff position, while in the West, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix could all advance into playoff position. 

Here are the standings entering the restart:

East

  1. x-Milwaukee -- 53-12
  2. x-Toronto -- 46-18
  3. x-Boston -- 43-21
  4. x-Miami -- 41-24
  5. x-Indiana -- 39-26
  6. x-Philadelphia -- 39-26
  7. Brooklyn -- 30-34
  8. Orlando -- 30-35
  9. Washington -- 24-40

West

  1. x-L.A. Lakers  -- 49-14
  2. x-L.A. Clippers -- 44-20
  3. x-Denver -- 43-22
  4. x-Utah -- 41-23
  5. x-Oklahoma City -- 40-24
  6. x-Houston -- 40-24
  7. Dallas -- 40-27
  8. Memphis -- 32-33
  9. Portland -- 29-37
  10. New Orleans -- 28-36
  11. Sacramento -- 28-36
  12. San Antonio -- 27-36
  13. Phoenix -- 26-39

At 39-26, the Sixers sit sixth in the Eastern Conference. They're clinched for the playoffs, but they have an opportunity to earn a higher seed with the eight "regular season" games on their schedule. The fifth-seeded Pacers are also 39-26, while the fourth-seeded Heat are two games ahead of the Sixers.

The final regular-season games will impact the Sixers in the 2020 NBA draft, as well. If the Thunder finish with one of the NBA's 11 best records, the Sixers will own Oklahoma City's top-20 protected first-round pick, which they acquired when they traded Markelle Fultz to Orlando last February. 

What is the Sixers' schedule?

The NBA schedule for the 22 teams headed to Orlando was released on June 26. It will begin August 1 at 1 p.m. ET, with five games being played that day. The Sixers are one of those games. Here's their full schedule for the seeding games:

Aug. 1, 7 p.m.: Indiana
Aug. 3, 8 p.m: San Antonio
Aug. 5, 4 p.m.: Washington
Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m.: Orlando
Aug. 9, 6:30 p.m.: Portland
Aug. 11, 4:30 p.m.: Phoenix
Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Toronto 
Aug. 14, TBD: Houston 

How will the new format address COVID-19?

The season has been suspended since March 11, when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. On March 19, the Sixers announced that three members of the organization had tested positive for COVID-19. As of July 1, the Sixers say that no members of their organization have tested positive as they prepare for Orlando. 

The NBA's health and safety memo is 113 pages long. Players and staff will quarantine for 36 hours and will be required to test negative in two tests, 24 hours apart, upon arrival. There will be "regular" testing for players and coaches. 

Where do the Sixers stand entering the restart?

The Sixers’ last game before the hiatus was a 124-106 win over the Pistons in which Joel Embiid scored 30 points after a five-game absence because of a left shoulder sprain and Al Horford had 20 points and 10 rebounds. That victory improved the Sixers to an NBA-best 29-2 at Wells Fargo Center, the best home mark in the league. They’ve been woeful on the road and sport a 10-24 away record. 

“Obviously playing in front of no fans, especially our fans, isn't ideal,” head coach Brett Brown said on May 15. “It's not ideal. Do I think it'll water down the competitive side? I don't. … Of course, it's going to have some level of an impact. I do feel just the mere fact that we'll be playing again might be able to sort of minimize whatever awkwardness playing in front of zero fans is going to teach all of us.

"I think it will be almost comical, the communication with referees and the back and forth with players and the rest. … And so how it will play out, I don't know. None of us have ever done this.” 

One potential benefit of the hiatus for the Sixers is the additional time it provided Ben Simmons to rehab. The two-time All-Star had missed the team’s final eight games before the suspension because of a nerve impingement in his lower back, but he will be fully healthy when games begin on August 1

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2020 NBA restart: How Sixers think they'll adapt to 'weird,' fan-less games

2020 NBA restart: How Sixers think they'll adapt to 'weird,' fan-less games

There is no good comparison for playing competitive basketball games away from the outside world during a pandemic.

That didn’t stop a handful of Sixers over the last week from putting the NBA's planned resumption in familiar terms, though.

“It’s going to be like the AAU tournament of the century, kind of,” Josh Richardson said.

“I think it’s the richest summer camp in the history of basketball,” Alec Burks said. 

Of course, AAU tournaments and summer camps aren’t played with NBA championships at stake, and players there don’t usually have to adhere to stringent health and safety rules. If everything progresses smoothly at Disney World, the Sixers will transition from an in-room quarantine in which their neighbors’ identities were a mystery to high-stakes competition in a three-week span.

The Sixers’ first practice is scheduled for Saturday, and they have scrimmages set for July 24, July 26 and July 28. Their first game after the league’s hiatus is scheduled for Aug. 1. 

While there’s a chance to adjust, it’s not a ton of time to acclimate to the isolated, fan-less atmosphere. 

“I think the first games will just be weird,” Matisse Thybulle said. “I think a lot of the energy that we’re used to getting from the fans will have to come from the bench. We have amazing guys on our team across the board so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. … I think with this, it’s going to be a cool challenge and it can also help us.”

Several teammates agreed with Thybulle’s view that the bench would need to inject energy. Richardson even thought the competition might be something like a lethargic regular-season game — a December matchup against the Wizards, as an example — where the playoffs are far away and it’s difficult for players to find motivation. 

I feel like that’s the same in a regular game ... because teams can come out flat and there’s always got to be a guy or a few guys to get guys’ heads in the game or to rev everybody up a little bit,” he said. “I think we’ll definitely have to bring our own energy. It’s going to be like scrimmages, I guess, the whole time. … But I’ll be one of those guys trying to bring energy. I know (Kyle O’Quinn)’s going to be a big energy guy for us. So hopefully some guys will step up, get a little uncomfortable and be able to help us in a different way.

The Wells Fargo Center crowd won’t be behind the Sixers, which they'll surely miss after going an NBA-best 29-2 at home. The roar of the fans when the Sixers are on a run and taking control won’t be there anymore. But the grumbling, tension and boos when the team is playing below its best and on the verge of letting a game slip away won’t be either, and it’s possible that will be the greater loss. The Sixers often seemed to respond to that collective demand for better effort by sharpening their focus. 

How will that in-person pressure from thousands of people no longer being present affect the players? If it feels like one’s playing a scrimmage or a pick-up game, it wouldn’t be surprising to see certain players operate with a little more looseness, a little less apparent knowledge that the game they’re playing in matters. That could mean a higher willingness to fire jumpers for players sometimes reluctant to take them, or a bit more flash and bravado from someone who gets hot and is having a good time without as strong an awareness of the score and situation as he might otherwise have. 

So, while the notion of energy exclusively coming from the bench sounds like it could be great for the Sixers for their “road” games, given how much the team struggled away from Philadelphia this season (10-24), the bench also may need to provide somewhat of a moderating influence, along with strategic input. We should be able to clearly hear everything, from coaches and players shouting out adjustments in pick-and-roll coverages to instructions that a player should keep a tighter handle on the ball. 

The bench obviously won’t be a single, homogeneous entity. Norvel Pelle won’t be shouting out the same things to his teammates as Thybulle. 

“Everybody’s bringing their own energy in a different manner,” Pelle said. “I know I’m a little out there with the (air) guitar and all the extra stuff. It just brings smiles to people.”

In these odd circumstances, the Sixers might appreciate a little levity. 

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Sixers' Josh Richardson provides behind-the-scenes look at life in Disney World quarantine

Sixers' Josh Richardson provides behind-the-scenes look at life in Disney World quarantine

If you were curious about what life is like for NBA players currently quarantining at Disney World, Josh Richardson likely answered a few of your questions Friday night.

In an Instagram Live, Richardson gave a thorough tour of his room. He showed his wardrobe, gaming setup and various amenities at the Grand Floridian Hotel. 

Though the neighbor situation sounds a bit mysterious to Richardson, given that he’s had to stay in his room, he said he knows Mike Scott is nearby because he could “hear him screaming on his GTA headset this morning.” 

Richardson also gave an update on rookie Matisse Thybulle, who memorably had not satisfied his teammates’ desire for biscuits on a road trip earlier this season. The quantity of biscuits Thybulle dragged on to the Sixers’ flight to Florida was sufficient, according to Richardson.

“Matisse did a good job on the plane,” Richardson said. “He did what he had to do.”

What are Richardson's teammates up to?

Joel Embiid is joking about the food and Tobias Harris has crossed paths again with his old friend Boban Marjanovic.

Ben Simmons is unsurprisingly playing video games, while Marial Shayok caught an old Iowa State game on television.

Soon enough, the Sixers will be able to leave their rooms and play basketball, as long as they return negative coronavirus tests. The team’s first practice is set for Saturday, while its first scrimmage is scheduled for July 24. 

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