The NBA has a lot to work out over the next few weeks. Where to play, how many weeks of training camp teams will get, and how to restart the season are just some of the questions that need to be answered.
Logic says you bring back the 16 teams who are qualified for the playoffs and let them decide who the champion is. The main reason to do it this way is to keep the number of people inside the bubble manageable and lessen the risk of another COVID-19 outbreak.
It's also very likely that those teams who don't have a shot of making the postseason are already looking ahead to free agency and the draft. Adam Silver has a chance to push forth some legislation he's wanted to for some time now, and that is seeding the playoff teams 1-16 and then reseeding each round that follows.
This plan eliminates the Western and Eastern Conference teams only playing against each other till the finals. It would also create some intriguing first-round matchups.
Under this scenario, the Thunder at 40-24 would qualify as the overall nine seed, and play the eighth-seeded Miami Heat. Billy Donovan will tell you that the regular season has no bearing on the playoffs.
With the Heat and Thunder hat would go double. The teams have only played once with the Miami winning 115-108 at the Peake.
For the third time in four games, the Thunder have found themselves outworked to start a game, and as a result, they end up on the losing end. Friday, the Heat got the better of Oklahoma City 115-108.
Billy Donovan was asked what's connecting the slow first quarter starts. "We're responding to the game instead of dictating the game," Donovan says there's not enough resistance from the Thunder at the beginning of games, and that teams can score too easy. The Heat outscored Oklahoma City 40-26 in the first quarter on 65 percent shooting.
Miami was getting a good amount of those points in the paint. Even with the return of Nerlens Noel Bam Adebayo was able to net 21, while as a team the Heat won the battle inside 44-34. Maimi did an excellent job of forcing the Thunder into taking threes and low percentage twos with their zone defense. Donovan thinks the Thunder got too stagnant in the first half and settled for jump shots, but did a better job in the second half of working both inside and outside.
Danilo Gallinari had 27, and even though Adebayo's numbers jump out (21,8), Steven Adams was sitting out with a knee contusion he suffered in the Thunder's loss to the Raptors the game before. The Heat had 44 points in the paint if Adams can go, you figure, that number could fall by 10 just by his ability to rebound and cutting down on second-chance shots.
Also, Lou Dort was not a fixture in the Thunder lineup; going by position, it's likely he will guard Jimmy Butler, and that could help keep Butler's scoring under the 20 he is averaging this season. The Heat and Thunder's bench rank 7th and 9th respectively in scoring and Oklahoma City just edged Miami 39-34 with Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo scoring in double figures.
What gives this matchup it's sex appeal is Pat Riley turning down the opportunity to trade for Chris Paul before the season, and Gallinari at the deadline. Were the Thunder to win this series, it would cement the argument that Sam Presti and Riley should split the Executive of the Year honors.
Best guess, the owners will not accept Silver's plan to seed teams 1-16, and the Thunder will play Utah to start the playoffs. It's hard to know how any of these series will play out, because you have no idea how long it's going to take players to get into a rhythm, and deep coaches will have to go into their bench.
Still, it will be a welcome sight when the Thunder returns.