The NBA’s return to play plan has been approved, and the league will continue the 2019-20 season on July 31 in Orlando, Fla. Each team will play eight regular season games before the playoffs begin.
The Sacramento Kings will have a chance to end their 14-year postseason drought, but will have to leapfrog two teams to get the No. 9 seed. If they’re able to get into the top-nine and are within four games of the No. 8 seed, there will be a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
ESPN is reporting that the NBA will tweak the standings where the league will use win percentage as the first tiebreaker. Tim Bontemps explained what this means for Sacramento:
“So, for example: The Trail Blazers, Pelicans and Kings are currently tied for ninth place in the Western Conference standings and are each eight games under .500. The Trail Blazers, however, have played 66 games (29-37), and the Pelicans and Kings have played 64 (28-36). As a result, Portland is one one-thousandth of a point ahead of both the Pelicans and Kings in winning percentage heading into Orlando. Because the NBA chose to use winning percentage to break ties, if Portland has the same record as either New Orleans or Sacramento in Orlando — and, thus, the same number of games at or under .500 for the season — Portland will finish ahead of them despite having been swept by the Pelicans this season and having tied Sacramento.”
The solution for the Kings to avoid a tiebreaker is simple: win games. Sacramento sits 3.5 games behind the Pelicans for the No. 8 seed, and is scheduled to play New Orleans twice over its final eight games.
It’s obviously going to have a different feel when things resume, and I am expecting a lower seed to make a run in the playoffs. The Kings will have everyone back and healthy, so hopefully head coach Luke Walton can get the team rolling right from the start. Sacramento was playing well before the March 11 stoppage, winning 13 of its last 20 games.
This news doesn’t help the Kings, but if they’re able to play as well as they did before the shutdown, they will have a chance to end the longest playoff drought in the NBA.
How many games do you think the Kings will out of their final eight contests?
On to some more links:
Where do you rank the Kings among the 22 teams whose season will resume? Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey released his latest power rankings, and has Sacramento pretty far down hist list.
Many athletes have been using their platform to speak out with everything that is happening around the country. Sacramento’s best player called out a prominent news anchor for comments she made about athletes who protest. (h/t NBC Sports’ James Ham)
The NBA and NBAPA held a conference call late last week to go over some of the details on how the league plans on resuming play amidst the pandemic. The Athletic’s Shams Charania goes over what was discussed between the two parties.