Basketball is back…or at least it will be very soon. The NBA announced that the playoffs will be played in Orlando with the players and their families staying in a hotel. The NBA will operate in somewhat of a “bubble” with the players, their families, and everyone else it takes to produce live basketball having minimal contact with the outside world. However, there’s a catch.
The catch being that the NBA will only be bringing 22 teams to Orlando, ending the season for 8 teams. 13 teams from the Western Conference will be heading to Orlando. The Minnesota TImberwolves and the holders of the league’s worst record, The Golden State Warriors are the only Western Conference teams to not make the playoffs. 9 teams from the Eastern Conference will be going to Orlando to join the Western Conference teams.
Here are the teams who won’t be making the trip to Orlando:
Golden State Warriors
New York Knicks
The question is If your team has been eliminated, Who are you rooting for?
COVID-19 has created a once in a lifetime scenario for basketball fans to root for the playoff team of their choosing. After the conclusion of the playoffs your partisanship can return to your hometown team.
Right off the bat a few teams are off limits.Some teams are too good and rooting for them would just be plain out front-running. These teams are the Bucks, Raptors, Lakers, Clippers, and the Nuggets.
Other teams like the Rockets and 76ers who underperformed in the regular season but could go far in the playoffs due to their star players should also be off limits.
That leaves the Jazz, Thunder, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Spurs, Kings, Spurs, and the Suns from the west.
From the east the Celtics, Heat, Pacers, Nets, Magic, and the Wizards are also left for consideration.
From here on out the weeding-out of teams is based on where you live and who you regularly root for. As a Knicks fan for example I can eliminate the Celtics because of a general disdain for all Boston sports teams. The Nets can also be eliminated due to cross-town rivalry reasons.
It must also be taken into consideration that I would like to pick a team that is likely to make it past the 1st round. That being said, I think it’s fair to eliminate the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Spurs, Kings, Suns, Magic, and Wizards from consideration.
With all of these criteria in place the only teams left are the Jazz, Thunder, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Heat, and the Pacers.
Each team has an upside to rooting for them. If you feel like supporting local guy the Jazz are led by Westchester County, New York native Donovan Mitchell. The Thunder shocked the whole league by avoiding a long-term rebuild. The Mavs are led by young talent in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Grizzlies have the next star in Ja Morant. The Pacers who for most of the season have been without star guard Victor Oladipo have played solid team basketball, led by Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, and TJ Warren. The Heat traded for Jimmy Butler in the offseason and paired him with Kendrick Nunn, fan favorite rookies Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, and emerging star big man Bam Adebayo.
This is an exciting time for basketball fans. Especially for those whose team was part of the 22 tabbed to play in Orlando. If your team wasn’t selected to play in Orlando choosing a team to root for may just be a great way to stay in the action.