NBA Playoffs Have Unique Intrigue Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo runs with the ball during the NBA basketball match between Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on January 24, 2020. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

In this time of uncertainties, the one thing that has been made clear is that the NBA wants to crown a champion this season. The when, where, and how has yet to be determined. However, the expectation is that some sort of postseason will take place over the summer. Hitting the pause button in the middle of the stretch run is something no one has dealt with before. This will add plenty of intrigue to an NBA Playoffs that was already set to be a wild ride. Each team will be dealing with a situation never before seen, and how it affects them could change the course of the postseason.

The big unknown is how each team will be affected by the mid-season pause. Leadership, chemistry, and momentum will all be major factors when the NBA Playoffs begin. Teams battling injuries could turn this break in a reprieve, as they can get their roster back to full health.

NBA Playoffs; Winners and Losers Amid Unique Circumstances

Core Strength

The Milwaukee Bucks were cruising to the best record in the Eastern Conference when the season was put on pause. Giannis Antetokounmpo was well on his way to a second consecutive MVP award. The core of the Bucks roster has been together for a few seasons. Their ability to sustain momentum despite the interruption in the season will be key. Antetokoumpo will be looking to make it to his first NBA Finals. The Bucks have been on a mission after falling to the eventual champion Raptors last summer. The roster stability should be a helpful bonus when teams are allowed to practice again.

The Denver Nuggets will have a similar advantage when the season resumes. This Nuggets team has been building and progressing over the past few years, and the bulk of their roster has been along for that ride. The chemistry and camaraderie developed will ease the stress of trying to gear up for a postseason run after having the season suspended so abruptly. Injuries were also a looming factor for this team. The break should allow this team to enter the NBA Playoffs at full strength. The Nuggets have fought at the top of the Western Conference standings the last two seasons. Now they will try to go from being an up and coming team to being a true title contender.

Aside from last summer’s addition of Kemba Walker, the Boston Celtics are also in a similar position.  The core group of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart have played plenty of games together. It will be interesting to see if the teams whose rosters have held together for multiple seasons come out of these unprecedented events with an added advantage.

La La Land

Last summer, most of the attention was focused on the two teams in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Clippers made multiple moves and fashioned an extremely deep roster headlined by the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Both All-Stars have missed time for various reasons this season. Unlike the aforementioned teams, chemistry could be an issue not a benefit. Coach Doc Rivers has arguably the league’s deepest roster at his disposal. This team was still figuring each other out as the season progressed, due to injuries that growth was stunted. If the league has to rush things to be able to finish the season, the learning curve for this group will get dramatically steeper. The talent to contend for a title is there, but the mid-season pause could hurt their chances of being at their best during the NBA Playoffs.

Los Angeles’ other team made its big off-season move by bringing in Anthony Davis to team up with LeBron James. The Los Angeles Lakers are 49-14 and sit atop the Western Conference. While there could be some questions of chemistry when dealing with the suspension of the season, overall this could be more of a positive than negative for the purple and gold. This is one of the oldest teams in the league. The mid-season break could help this squad finish with fresher legs than they would have under normal circumstances. James and Davis have both been brilliant this campaign. The break is a positive for both, considering age and injury history respectively. The Lakers will look to regain their regular-season momentum when things finally resume.

New Territory for the NBA Playoffs

Every team will have their own issues to deal with when the season begins again and the NBA Playoffs get closer. No one can foresee how things will progress moving forward. This isn’t a scenario anyone has experienced or one that could have been planned for. The entire country is figuring things out day by day, and the NBA and its players will be no different. No formal plans have been made, but all signs point to the league and its players being determined to finish off the 2019-20 season in some fashion. It is unknown what form that will take. However, the unique circumstances will have the interest and intrigue of this year’s NBA Playoffs will be at a very high level.

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