It is fair to say that the 2019/20 NBA season has been a strange affair to date. While it started as usual, the global COVID-19 pandemic, which affected all US sports, saw it postponed on 11th March 2020. That was a real blow for both fans and players who did not know when things would resume again. It also hit sports betting Indiana statewide and sports betting in other states, too. The usual revenue from basketball wagers just disappeared. The good news for all though, is that there is now some light at the end of the tunnel! 

NBA officials met on 4th June 2020 to review the situation and how play could start again with COVID-19 still around. They have agreed that play can begin again on 31st July 2020, which was met with great relief from all those who love basketball. It will just be great to see the best current NBA players in full flow again and to check out some fresh games. Of course, it may not entirely be business as usual. 

But how different could the NBA look? 

Disney World set to take center stage 

When you think of the NBA and pro ball, Disney World in Florida may not be the first place to pop into your head. It might surprise you to find out that Disney World could shake up the NBA season when it resumes. But why is that? A caveat in the NBA’s plans to restart on 31st July 2020 is that all remaining games will be played at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. This is for all teams who will be included when play starts once more. 

This could have a significant impact on results as traditional home and away advantage is no longer a factor. Will some teams who do not travel well find it hard to perform and will the lack of home fans to roar them on make some players underperform? Only time will tell, but everyone having to play at the same neutral venue could throw up some interesting results. As well as the Disney World effect, other changes below could also make for an unpredictable remainder to the current NBA season.

Fewer teams and a revised fixture list

Another big change that fans and teams will notice when play resumes is the league being cut down to 22 teams. That will include teams like the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference while the likes of the LA Lakers and Denver Nuggets will be part of the revised Western Conference. The NBA had confirmed that the criteria for which of the teams will be included are; the 16 teams in playoff positions when play was suspended and the six others who are six games or less behind the 8th seed in their conference. 

Naturally, this also means that a new regular season fixture list will be drawn up to take into account the reduced number of teams coming back to play. That may well have a massive impact on the overall standings and which teams end up doing well under the new arrangements. NBA officials have also confirmed that the standard playoff format will be followed when regular-season games end. This would see a 16-team playoff field set and games played with a conference-based approach, leading up to the finals, which are arranged for October 2020. 

Will there be crowds at all? 

We have already looked at how playing all remaining games at Disney World could affect teams or players. But what if there are also no crowds to watch games at courtside? Not only could fans be banned due to COVID-19 fears, but many simply will not be able to travel to Florida to support their team in person. With no encouragement or heckling to fire them up, will players be able to hit their usual heights or motivate themselves enough? You also have to factor in the impact of a stricter medical routine for COVID-19 testing when play restarts. This could well see the whole league suspended again or teams unable to field a side if the virus is found with different players on different teams.

2019/20 season will look a lot different when back

All NBA fans will be eager to see play resume at the end of July as planned. Many, though, might be in for a shock when they see how different things will be. Not only will where the games be played be a massive change, but the teams included, the revised fixtures, and other COVID-19 safety measures will have a significant bearing. The great news is that the action will still be awesome, and at least the season will be able to be completed.