The NBA finally has settled on an NBA restart plan per multiple reports. After weeks of rumors, a 22-team format is expected to be proposed and passed by the Board of Governors on Thursday afternoon that calls for eight regular season games, a potential play-in tournament for the No. 8 seed leading to the usual NBA postseason.
Breaking down the regular season format
The NBA will be inviting the 22 best teams to Orlando for a chance to make the postseason. That will include nine Eastern Conference teams and 13 Western Conference teams since the bottom tier of the East has horrendous records this season. The ninth-seeded Wizards in the East are the worst team in the field with a 24-40 record. The Suns (26-39) are the worst team in the West invited.
—Eight regular season games will be played by all 22 teams and added to the team’s current regular season record.
—At the end of the regular season, there will be a potential play-in game for the No. 8 seed in both conferences if the No. 9 seed is within four games of the No. 8 seed in the standings after a (roughly) 72 game regular season (total game totals will vary by team).
—If the No. 8 seed has more than a four-game lead in either conference, it will not have to play their way into the postseason and no tournament will be held for that conference. If not, a play-in tournament will be held between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed.
—For any play-in tournament, there will be a baked-in advantage for the No. 8 seed. It will only have to win one game against the No. 9 seed in the tournament to advance to the regular postseason. On the flip side, the No. 9 seed will have to beat the No. 8 seed twice in a row to advance to take on the No. 1 seed in the first round.
—All seeds below No. 9 in each conference will be eliminated per usual at the end of the regular season and the usual playoff matchups will take place with a seven-game series (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc.) once any play-in tournament is completed.
Why this format is good news for the Celtics in the present
This is a win on a couple of fronts for Boston. For the current postseason, it gives the Celtics a chance to avoid the Sixers in the first round (something they were penciled in for currently in a 3 vs. 6 matchup) since Philadelphia could easily move up to the 4/5 matchup after playing eight regular season games (they are currently tied with the Pacers for the No. 5 seed). Catching the Raptors for the No. 2 seed will be a challenge (3 games back with eight to play) for Boston but the C’s should have the ability maneuver a bit in the standings if they want and hope they pull a more favorable draw in the 3 vs. 6 matchup (Pacers, Heat) as opposed to a healthy Sixers squad. There is also a chance Boston could fall to the 4/5 matchup with a poor showing in the eight-game regular-season but a 2.5 game cushion over Miami should provide some breathing room there.
Why this format is good news for the Celtics’ draft stash
The Memphis Grizzlies are currently the frontrunner to make the West playoffs as the No. 8 seed (3.5 game lead with eight games to play) but there is a strong likelihood now that they will need to win some kind of play-in tournament to make the postseason. Currently, there are four West teams (Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio) that are within four games of the Grizzlies in the standings so barring a remarkable hot run by Memphis to close the final eight games of the regular season, one of those four squads should finish within four games of the Grizzlies in the standings, which will trigger the play-in tournament.
That opens the door for the Grizzlies to be knocked out by a healthy Blazers squad (big men Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are expected to return) or a Pelicans team that was coming together at the end of the