After a four and a half month hiatus, the NBA has finally returned, albeit under some unusual circumstances. Twenty two teams have been invited to isolate in a “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida to compete for eight playoff spots in each conference. Once the seeds are filled, the playoff teams will stay in the bubble to battle it out in a traditional NBA playoff format, beginning Aug. 17, for a chance at winning a championship.
The NBA underwent several major changes in order to restart the season. Players must adhere to strict protocols while in Orlando, which include daily COVID-19 testing, social distancing guidelines and the inability to leave the bubble without permission from the league. The league has also given players the opportunity to opt out of playing in the bubble if they feel their health is in jeopardy and teams the power to replace those players with new roster additions if needed.
You would be forgiven for forgetting about the turbulent and competitive state of the NBA before the league’s 141 day suspension and the pandemic-driven headlines. This four-part series will take a look at what each playoff team brings to the NBA bubble, beginning with the teams that are expecting to bring a trophy home: “The Favorites.”