The NBA is set for a return to action in the Summer from Orlando, with 22 teams and a play-in for the final playoff spots. Sports Illustrated host Robin Lundberg talked with SI writer Michael Shapiro about which teams on the bubble could be the most viable threat to shake up the postseason and with Aaron Rose of All Raptors about how a team like Toronto might be impacted as they get ready to resume a title defense.
Read the full transcript below:
Robin Lundberg: The NBA is set for a return with a 22 team format. For more, I’m joined by our Michael Shapiro and Aaron Rose of All Raptors. Michael, let’s start with you. When you’re talking about the teams trying to play in, you identified two, in particular, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Blazers as the ones that could be most interesting.
Michael Shapiro: Yeah, you know, we’re going to have six non-playoff teams invited to Orlando to resume this season and of those teams, I really think that New Orleans and Portland have the best chance of sneaking into the playoffs. As for Portland, it’s been a really nightmarish season for them, one marred by a lot of injuries. But it’s tough to really bet against Damian Lillard. He can really score in a hurry and wipe it up against any team in the league. As for New Orleans, they were playing some of their best basketball this season before the NBA’s coronavirus hiatus. If Zion Williamson is ready to play heavy minutes when the season returns. New Orleans could really challenge for a playoffs spot.
Robin Lundberg: But yeah, I mean, Zion obviously is a central figure, maybe even why this plan exists the way it does now. Now Aaron, when it comes to a team like the Raptors, who was already established, already in the playoffs, how do you think this format impacts their title defense?
Aaron Rose: I think the Raptors are a team that comes back, obviously defending the championship and we really have no idea what it’s going to look like in terms of how teams adapt to it. They’re a veteran group. They should have chemistry, should be up to up to snuff and they’re a group that has one of the best coaches in the NBA. They should be ready to go and one through eight, they have one of the best rosters in the NBA. So, if a team like the Lakers, the Clippers or the Bucks, their stars need to take an extra few minutes to get their legs under them. Toronto, their one through eight is just as good as anyone else and they should be able to win those series.
Robin Lundberg: Well, every team will have to deal with the same circumstances. That goes for the Raptors and all others that are involved in Orlando. Guys, I appreciate your time.