Orlando Magic benefit from keeping conference distinction to finish season

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Then the 1 through 16 system seems less favorable for the Orlando Magic. The Magic have a better chance to make gains if the East/West distinction remains.

With the season on hold, there have been discussions on how to restart the season. There have also been discussions on the format the NBA will use to determine its champion, tweaking the typical playoff formula with every invited team staying in the same location.

The league is considering several ideas to finish its season. They may finally try out an idea that has been floating around for some time. This finally might be the year that the top 16 teams regardless of conference.

That is only one idea of course. The league might still conduct some regular season or it might not. The league might have some kind of play-in tournament. It might conduct a group play as its first round like the World Cup.

The question is which system would the Orlando Magic fare better in.

Teams will need some time to ramp up to the playoffs. And the league seems determined to play some games before the playoffs begin. Everyone is going to need the time to get back into rhythm.

One idea would have teams reaching 72 total games to end the regular season — roughly six or seven games for most teams. This would give teams a chance to compete for playoff spots and positioning. It would also give whatever teams arrive at Disney or the campus site a chance to play for something before the postseason begins.

That would be part of a playoff format that will look and feel completely different. The league still does not seem to have a grip on how it wants the playoffs to look.

While there are a lot of outlandish ideas getting bandied about, the two main options remain the most basic — the traditional two conference standings and the 1-through-16 format, eliminating the conferences once the playoffs begin.

For the traditional format, the Orlando Magic are going to play either the Milwaukee Bucks or the Toronto Raptors, depending on how the rest of the regular season goes.

If the NBA goes directly into the playoffs, then they will play the Bucks. But if extra games are played, then they have a chance to pass the Brooklyn Nets in the standings and play the Toronto Raptors. Either series would be extremely difficult for the Magic. But anything can happen under these strange circumstances.

The 1-through-16 system seems less favorable for the Magic.

If the playoffs begin without any extra games, the Magic would still play the Bucks. But instead of playing the Toronto Raptors, the Orlando Magic would end up playing the Los Angeles Lakers if they pass the Brooklyn Nets in the standing. The Lakers have the second-best record in the NBA.

A regular season could give the Magic the chance to advance a bit further. And the ability to play into the postseason is all the Magic want — whether that comes with an extended regular season or with a play-in tournament.

If additional games are played, the Orlando Magic have a chance to catch the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis has a 2.0 game lead on Orlando. This has the Magic playing against the Raptors as it stands now.

The LA Clippers would have a chance to catch the Toronto Raptors in the same scenario. This would create a Magic vs. Clippers matchup.

There are still a lot of moving parts with the NBA’s return. The biggest moving target is nailing down the playoff format. It needs to be a format that gives every team that goes to the site incentive and an opportunity to make the Playoffs.

The league is clearly open to some new ideas.

Although this would be the best time to try out the 1-through-16 system and (temporarily) get rid of the conference distinction, the Magic have a better chance of getting a more favorable matchup in the traditional conference format.

Although the Raptors should and will be the favorites, a Magic-vs.-Raptors matchup is Orlando’s best chance to advance.

Next: Mohamed Bamba has not wasted the hiatus

In any case, any format of basketball is going to be exciting.