When the NBA rolled out the first half of schedule for the 2020-21 season, the league knew that there would be positive tests. But did they expect an outbreak to the degree that they are experiencing it now?
Two-thirds of the teams have either had at least a game postponed either directly (infection) or indirectly (contact tracing)because of the pandemic and the league’s health and safety protocols. The league has had 19 games canceled since Jan. 10. In the last two weeks, 27 players have tested positive.
Although the league informed all 30 teams that outbreaks and postponements would happen and released the first half of the schedule to give itself space to reschedule cancelled games in the schedule’s second half.
This pandemic isn’t fading away soon, and certainly won’t fade away and fall off when the NBA releases the second half of the schedule. Teams having eight players or less will continue to be an issue. As a result, cancellations and postponements will continue to be an issue. Now is it feasible for the NBA to pause and reset? Yes. However, given that we’re one the verge of eclipsing 20 games and not to mention the “Delete Eight” restarting after nine months of inactivity, pausing the league when they are playing is unfair. The NBA could have done this:
According to the Athletic’s John Hollinger, the league could have scheduled the 72 games required to honor those broadcast deals by having the teams play a schedule with an emphasis on the divisions, with the remainder of the games within the conferences. Hollinger believes that this minimizes the cancellations and postponements by limiting the number and exchange of opponents and simplifies contact tracing.
Hollinger also thinks that the NBA should do this for the second half of the schedule. The league could put teams in small groups of six to 10 teams. Grouping the teams together this way, in theory minimizes contact tracing and risk of infection.
The NBA will attempt to go through this schedule for better or worse, but given these outbreaks, it’s hard not to wonder if the NBA could have done better in terms of scheduling.
What do you think the NBA could have done differently in scheduling the games? Let us know in the comments and on twitter.