It remains unknown what scheme the NBA plans to operate as they continue to organize a return.
With reports that commissioner Adam Silver and the league office informed the Board of Governors that July 31 is the time frame for a season return, fans should expect a released playoff format in the coming weeks.
The NBA has noted a new method of seeding the postseason into 1-16 – placing the 16 teams with the best regular-season record, regardless of conference.
Doing so would grant the No. 8 seeded Heat (41-24) against the No. 9 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder (40-24). Here’s the backstory the trending format files in Miami’s first-round series:
- An anticipated rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals. However, the only current player who played in the series was Udonis Haslem.
- Two teams expected to be on verge of rebuild last offseason before acquiring its star players (Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul).
- Heat’s Erik Spoelstra against Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan. Both coaches are considered to be candidates for NBA Coach of the Year Award.
- Both Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari were rumored to be heading to South Beach before unexpected turnarounds left them with the Thunder.
Although the idea seems out of the box and complicated to enact, all signs of how the league plans to return makes it a valid proposition.
Reported days ago, league officials are in “exploratory conversations” to resume basketball at Disney’s ESPN World of Sports Complex. Such reports label the possibility of the suggested format to work, as long-distance traveling won’t be taking place whatsoever.
Regardless of whether or not the NBA chooses to use the traditional format, Miami would be tasked to take on the winner of the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks-No. 8 Orlando Magic in the second round. Instead of Oklahoma City, they will take on the No. 5 seeded Indiana Pacers.
Miami holds an advantage on both potential first-round matchups, defeating Indiana twice earlier in the season and Oklahoma City on the road in their only face-off this year.
Concerns approach in the third round of the postseason, as Miami would likely face the No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers, a squad they would have met in the NBA Finals under the traditional setup.
If the Heat were to defeat the Clippers, they’ll be expected to take on the Los Angeles Lakers. To put this into perspective, Miami would presumably have to defeat Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks, Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers, and LeBron James’ Lakers.
The long-established postseason system would cut Miami some slack, as they’ll only face two of the three teams.
However, this is playoff basketball. People don’t spend nearly two and a half hours watching a game to see mediocre teams in the league’s biggest stage. Although the Heat will face its biggest challenge in years, the format could generate top-notch postseason play.