RP3 told me not to write this column so I am writing this column.
Here’s how the scene played out:
LOUIS, a short 16-year old looking radio producer, enters the 103.7 The Game Studios to present column idea to RAY, much taller and cohosts RP3 & Company weekdays from 6-9 a.m.
LOUIS: Hey Ray, I have a column about the NBA and how the Pelicans still might have the easiest path to the playoffs because of their schedule.
RAY: I don’t know. It would be good content and you’re a good writer but I’m worried about you writing that and cursing the Pelicans.
LOUIS: You’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t.
RAY: Or you could write it and start it with this conversation.
So here we are. The NBA season proposal has been approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors. It was ratified by a 29-1 vote, with the Portland Trailblazers reportedly being the one team that voted against the proposal.
We know more about the season format now.
There are 22 teams are invited to Orlando, with 16 of those teams currently in the postseason and five teams from the Western conference and one team in the East. They are all six games or fewer back of the 8th seed. Every team will play eight regular season games. There will be a possible play-in tournament between the 8 and 9 seeds if the 9 seed is four games or fewer back of the 8 seed. The 9 seed will have to go 2-0 against the 8 seed to earn a playoff spot, while the 8 seed will only have to earn one win. The expectation for the playoffs will be series will be best-of-seven.
The team representing the East will be the Washington Wizards and the teams representing the West are Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix.
According to a formula by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo, the teams’ schedules will based on who was coming up and the teams that are invited to Orlando.
Disclaimer: The formula is not perfect and there will be tweaks but here are the schedules
Sacramento, Utah, Clippers, San Antonio, Memphis, Sacramento , Memphis, Orlando
Portland, Utah, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New Orleans, Boston
Memphis, Houston, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Utah, Memphis
Pelicans, Nets, Mavericks, Rockets, Magic, Pelicans, Pacers, Spurs
Denver, Memphis, New Orleans, Utah, Utah, Denver, Sacramento, New Orleans
Dallas, Clippers, Dallas, Indiana, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, OKC
The Pelicans play five contests against teams that are fighting for the 8th spot. They are currently 3.5 games behind the the Memphis Grizzlies but they have two games against them. New Orleans will have the opportunity to bump down teams like Sacramento and San Antonio. The most challenging games will be against the Jazz and Clippers.
New Orleans had one of the easier schedules before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There seems to be a way the NBA can maintain the strength of schedule for every team with minimal changes once the season returns in Orlando.
The season proposal gives each team the same opportunity they had before the season was over, so it’s on the Pelicans to capitalize on the strength of schedule. The format is not to blame if the Pelicans do not end up within four games or fewer of the 8th seed and they do not compete in the play-in tournament.
This column will 99.9 percent curse the Pelicans’ playoff hopes but I am prepared to take the risk because the reality is they might still have the easiest path to the postseason once the full schedules are announced.