The Yahoo Sports NBA daily bubble primer is complete with up-to-date standings and a breakdown of the schedule, from gambling odds to playoff implications and the biggest storylines. Today marks the last of the restart to the 2019-20 season.
Milwaukee Bucks (56-17)
Toronto Raptors (52-19)
Boston Celtics (48-24)
Miami Heat (44-28)
Indiana Pacers (44-28)
Philadelphia 76ers (42-30)
Brooklyn Nets (35-37)
Orlando Magic (33-40)
Washington Wizards (25-47)
Los Angeles Lakers (52-19)
L.A. Clippers (48-23)
Denver Nuggets (46-26)
Oklahoma City Thunder (44-27)
Houston Rockets (44-27)
Utah Jazz (44-28)
Dallas Mavericks (43-32)
Portland Trail Blazers (35-39)
Memphis Grizzlies (34-39)
Phoenix Suns (34-39)
San Antonio Spurs (32-39)
Sacramento Kings (31-41)
New Orleans Pelicans (30-42)
(All times Eastern)
Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors, 1:30 p.m.
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Denver Nuggets +3 (-110)
Toronto Raptors -3 (-110)
Miami Heat +1 (-110)
Indiana Pacers -1 (-110)
Oklahoma City Thunder +6 (-110)
Los Angeles Clippers -6 (-110)
Philadelphia 76ers +4.5 (-110)
Houston Rockets -4.5 (-110)
Denver Nuggets (46-26) vs. Toronto Raptors (52-19)
The Nuggets have clinched the No. 3 seed in the West.
The Raptors have clinched the No. 2 seed in the East.
Miami Heat (44-28) vs. Indiana Pacers (44-28)
The winner will be the fourth seed in the East. The loser will be the fifth seed. With home-court advantage all but eliminated in the bubble, this game will have far less meaning than it might have in a pre-COVID world.
Oklahoma City Thunder (44-27) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (48-23)
Philadelphia 76ers (42-30) vs. Houston Rockets (44-27)
The Thunder and Rockets are locked into the 4-5 series in the West. OKC could fall to the fifth seed with a loss and a Houston win, but again: Beyond virtual fans and music choices, there is no home-court edge.
The Clippers have clinched the No. 2 seed in the West.
The Sixers have clinched the No. 6 seed in the East.
Who and what to watch
Does home court matter, even a little bit?
Just look at the regular-season finale between the Heat and Pacers, a first-round preview that will decide which team enters as the fourth seed and which lands the fifth seed. Miami stars Jimmy Butler (foot), Bam Adebayo (knee) and Goran Dragic (ankle) have already been ruled out for Friday’s game, while rotational contributors Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala and Derrick Jones Jr. are all listed as questionable. Every regular on the Heat roster is expected to sit or play limited minutes, according to the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman.
Most of them, if not all, would be playing if the home-court advantage mattered in their first-round series.
Likewise, Indiana’s injury report on Wednesday listed Victor Oladipo (ankle), Myles Turner (wrist) and T.J. Warren (foot) as out. The Pacers are already down two starters, including All-Star big Domantas Sabonis.
Asked to what extent home-court advantage mattered in a bubble, Pacers guard T.J. McConnell told reporters on Thursday it was “nonexistent.” In other words, all three of Friday’s games that could impact seeding for the playoffs are utterly inconsequential, at least in terms of an on-court edge this season.
So, what is still at stake on Friday?
The draft order and some spending cash.
The NBA draft lottery is all but locked in:
Golden State Warriors
New York Knicks
San Antonio Spurs
New Orleans Pelicans
Whichever team loses the play-in series — the Grizzlies or Blazers — will hold the 14th spot in the Aug. 20 lottery. The Memphis pick will convert to the Celtics, unless the pingpong balls deliver on the 2.4 percent odds that the Grizzlies jump into the top four, in which case Boston would own their unprotected 2021 pick.
The lottery order is based on games played through March 11, when the season was suspended. However, the order for teams 15-30 is based on combined records before and after the restart. The order for picks 20-24 is dependent on Friday’s results and the ensuing coin flips. Whoever loses the Heat-Pacers game will draft 20th on Oct. 16. Whoever wins could fall to 24th if the Rockets and Thunder both win. The non-stars playing on Friday will have no motivation to lose, though, because they will be playing for job security.
The fourth seed also receives a higher share of the NBA playoff pool money. The players’ association does not publicly disclose those figures, but according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt, the fourth-seeded teams each received $238,001 to split among players to the fifth seeds’ $198,317 in 2018, when the player pool was $20 million. That number increased to $22 million last season. Based on shares from two years ago, each of the 17 members of the fourth-seeded team would receive $2,334 more than their fifth-seeded counterparts.
That may be small change to the average NBA player, but it is always better to walk away with some extra cash.
More from our NBA restart series:
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