As soon a player tested positive for COVID-19, the National Basketball Association suspended play. And the National Hockey League quickly followed suit. Will the leagues resume regular season play? And when and where will the playoffs be held?
National Hockey League Suspends Play
The National Hockey League (NHL) suspended play on 12 March 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic. And the Stanley Cup Playoffs were originally scheduled to begin less than a month later on 8 April.
On 21 May, the 31 NHL teams voted on a proposal to hold a tournament of the 24 teams with the best records when play was suspended.
The top four teams in the Eastern and Western conferences would receive first-round byes.
As a result, the following four ice hockey teams would not have to play in the Eastern Conference first round:
And the following ice hockey teams would not have to play in the Western Conference first round:
The fifth through 12th seeded teams of each conference would compete in a best-of-five series.
As a result, the followings eight teams in the Eastern Conference would compete in the second round:
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Florida Panthers
- Montreal Canadiens
- New York Islanders
- New York Rangers
- Pittsburg Penguins
- Toronto Maple Leafs
And the following eight teams in the Western Conference would compete in the second round:
- Arizona Coyotes
- Calgary Flames
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Edmonton Oilers
- Minnesota Wild
- Nashville Predators
- Vancouver Canucks
- Winnipeg Jets
Finally, the following seven teams would not compete:
- Anaheim Ducks
- Buffalo Sabres
- Detroit Red Wings
- Los Angeles Kings
- New Jersey Devils
- Ottawa Senators
- San Jose Sharks
When Will NHL Playoffs Be Held?
Training camps could reopen in late June or early July. So when would the playoffs actually begin?
In fact, the NHL needs to consider a variety of factors.
Logistics, COVID-19 testing, U.S. – Canada border closures, limited access to players from Europe, and14-day quarantines for anyone entering Canada are among the considerations.
Therefore, the NHL has not yet reached a decision. It could be as early as July. And it could be as late as November.
Where Will NHL Playoffs Be Played?
Because most of the host cities in the NHL are COVID-19 hot spots, it is highly unlikely that the NHL will hold games in those cities.
Therefore, in order to minimize the chances of transmission, the NHL could hold games in “hub cities”, which have low COVID-19 infection rates.
The following cities have put in bids to hold games:
- Columbus, Ohio
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Toronto Ontario
- Vancouver, British Columbia
Players would be quarantined in hotels the hub cities to minimize the chance of infection.
National Basketball Association Suspends Play
The National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended league play on 11 March when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
At the time, teams had already played between 63 and 67 regular-season games. And each team plays 82 games in the regular NBA season.
There had been rumours that teams would place enough games to bring their season totals up to 70 games.
However, according to Sports Illustrated, the NBA was considering three options as of 23 May.
Firstly, it could simply move directly on to the playoffs. And this would mean a traditional 16-team format.
Secondly, it could stage the playoffs while allowing additional teams to take part.
Thirdly, all 30 teams could take part in a league-wide tournament.
Where Will NBA Playoffs Be Held?
Unlike the NHL, the NBA seems to prefer playing all games in a single hub city.
While the league had considered playing all playoff games in Las Vegas, Central Florida has emerged as the frontrunner.
In fact, the league has been in talks with the Walt Disney Company to hold all of its playoff games in Central Florida.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex measures 40 square miles. It is located near Disney World in Orlando.
Which NBA Teams Will Play?
Under NBA rules, the eight teams in each conference with the most wins at the end of the regular season qualify for the playoffs.
These were the eight teams in the Eastern Conference with the most wins as of 11 March:
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic
(According to Win-Loss Record)
And these were the eight teams in the Western Conference with the most wins as of 11 March:
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Denver Nuggets
- Utah Jazz
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Houston Rockets
- Dallas Mavericks
- Memphis Grizzlies
(According to Win-Loss Record)
When Will NBA Playoffs Be Played?
The NBA Playoffs were originally scheduled to begin on 18 April 2020. Before play could resume, teams would need time to engage in practice.
Therefore, it is unlikely that play could continue until July at the earliest.
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