The NBA, as many know, will resume its season in Orlando’s Disney World following the unprecedented circumstances brought on by the outbreak of COVID-19. This playing situation is certainly unprecedented and odd, to say the least. Twenty-two teams will resume an expedited NBA season with just eight remaining regular-season games, followed by play-in tournaments if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed.
If the ninth seed for either respective conference is within four games of the eighth seed when the regular season concludes, they can earn the final playoff seed by winning two consecutive games versus the eighth seed in a tournament format. However, if they lose one game, the eighth seed stays.
Following the end of eight regular-season games and potential play-in tournaments for the final playoff spot in each conference, the NBA Playoffs and Finals will continue through mid-October.
Each of the twenty-two teams is allowed to travel with 35 people maximum and as teams are eliminated, more family members will be able to join the athletes. The athletes and their families will not be permitted to roam Disney World during their stay and must stay in the NBA bubble for the duration of the remaining NBA season.
These are certainly perplexing times with the precautions being taken due to coronavirus. However, the NBA season resuming at all is a blessing and breath of fresh air for NBA fans everywhere. With the NBA season being taken to “the most magical place on Earth”, fans surely hope for an equally magical end to this season.
With the NBA season now resuming in Disney World, it felt right to draw parallels between the magical setting and the exciting season ahead. Without further ado, here are the main attractions of what shapes up to be a highly anticipated return for basketball fans everywhere.
The Spinning Tea Cups: Magic Kingdom
The “Mad Tea Party” ride in the Magic Kingdom of Disney World Orlando is one of the most iconic in the park. However, it’s more cute than invigorating and it leaves you wondering if it belongs among the other coasters and thrill rides the park has to offer. Additionally, they’ll also likely leave you nauseated and regret having entertained them in the first place.
If any remaining NBA team is riding the teacups come July and August, it’s the Washington Wizards. They have the worst remaining record at 24-40 and on top of that, didn’t have much going for them before the season’s delay due to COVID-19. They’ve won just three of their last seven games before the shutdown and their wins came against the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Atlanta Hawks. Those teams had twenty-one, fifteen, and twenty wins respectively, which are all less than Washington’s pitiful win count itself.
Meanwhile, even the team with the next worst record, who is continuing their season in Orlando (the Phoenix Suns), has some statement wins recently. Particularly, their wins against the NBA’s best-record, Milwaukee Bucks, and the fourth seed Jazz within their last seven games before the shutdown.
The Wizards don’t have much reason for optimism while continuing their season besides a single man named Bradley Beal. It’s quite fair to wonder if they belong and expect some nauseated Washington fans come the season’s end.
Expedition Everest: Animal Kingdom
Expedition Everest is perhaps the best among all of Disney World’s rides throughout its various parks when it comes to premier thrill attractions. The line is usually quite long, as anticipation for the unique abominable snowman experience is always sky-high. One never knows what to expect around every corner as the ride flies around at 50 miles per hour. It is exciting and thrilling to experience without any doubt, but seems short-lived and leaves a desire for more when over.
It seems like this Houston Rockets squad with their dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden is ready for an Expedition Everest-type playoff experience. Nobody could forget the 2016 season when Westbrook and Harden made arguably the most impressive MVP debate in recent league history.
Harden averaged 29.1 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and 11.2 assists per game, while Westbrook put himself into history averaging a triple-double on the season and an impressive 31.6 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, and 10.4 assists per game. So, needless to say, when the players were united in Houston, this season producing the most highly-anticipated small-ball duo, perhaps in league history, expectations were high.
However, Houston has only managed to place themselves as high as the sixth seed in the Western Conference up until this point and even have the same record as the team who traded away Westbrook: the Oklahoma City Thunder. The duo has provided exciting moments all season, but never really lived up to the wait, anticipation, and excitement. Having lost four of their last five games, including losses against pitiful teams not even in the playoff picture, including the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets, expect short-lived playoffs for Houston and their dynamic small-ball duo.
Space Mountain: Magic Kingdom
When planning a trip to Disney World Orlando, one cannot possibly neglect Space Mountain. Space Mountain is the must-see, must-experience, and must-ride attraction of Disney World’s three parks. It’s an indoor rollercoaster that is completely submerged in darkness and features twists, turns, loops, and thrills around every corner while seemingly blasting you off into the vast emptiness of space itself.
When it comes to the main attraction of this remaining NBA season, the storyline that seems to jump out is the battle for LA. The Bucks seem to be a league above every other contender in the Eastern Conference while being six and a half games of the East’s second seed and boasting a lucrative 53-12 record.
Perhaps the most important stat of all is the home record for Milwaukee. They have a seemingly invincible home record of 28-3 this season and due to their standing, will have the home-court advantage the entire duration of the playoffs. Not many should seriously contend for the Eastern Conference Finals’ appearance outside of Milwaukee.
However, the battle for the West is front and center in Los Angeles and still very much alive. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the Western Conference’s top seeding with a record of 49-14 while the Clippers are the second seed, right behind the purple and gold with a record of 44-20. Both teams boast a dynamic duo of superstar players, with the Lakers bringing LeBron James and Anthony Davis into consideration for the best duo league-wide. However, the Clippers also have a duo of their own with a pair of elite two-way players, with the defending Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and six-time All-Star Paul George.
Although the Lakers still boast a higher seeding than the Clippers and the title of being the best of the West, the Clippers have won two of three matchups versus the Lakers thus far and are very much a threat to send The King and The Brow packing come playoff time. With LeBron James searching to build his resume as the greatest of all time with his fourth Finals win and the Lakers looking for their first championship since Kobe a decade ago, the hopes are high for the Lake Show.
However, Kawhi Leonard is perhaps the biggest rising star in sports and looking to repeat after pulling off one of the most iconic and memorable finals wins in history last season. The showdown in Los Angeles for the Western Conference’s NBA Finals representation is not a storyline to forget and is the height of excitement as the season continues.
With the NBA season now continuing in the most magical place on Earth, there’s certainly hope this season and playoffs have some magic injected into them as well, for likely the first time the players can exclaim “we’re going to Disney!” before achieving championship status. This season certainly has a lot of basketball left to be played and a lot of excitement following the culmination of what has been a rollercoaster of a season. Stay tuned here at the Sports Wave as we continue to break down the biggest storylines as they unfold, and thank you for taking the time to visit here at The Sports Wave today!