Report: NBA may “come back” with 1-16 playoff tourney, Toronto Raptors vs. Memphis Grizzlies first round

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According to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the NBA is considering skipping the regular season and jumping straight into the playoffs when and if it comes back this season.

This means that only the 16 playoff teams would need to report to the Disney World “bubble.”

Furthermore, there’s a possibility that the NBA will disregard conference standings, and seed the 16 playoff teams 1 through 16 regardless of conference.

This all makes sense for number of reasons:

  1. The season is, obviously, already way behind and time is short. Skipping the regular season and jumping right into the playoffs gets things moving faster.
  2. The fewer teams that have to report to the “bubble site,” the safer said bubble site would potentially be, and the fewer resources (i.e., tests) the bubble would take up.
  3. Since all the teams will be in one place, and there’s no travel, keeping the conference seeding doesn’t offer any real benefit.

Regarding this last idea, it’s actually the perfect trial run for the concept, as its been bouncing around for a while. Why not give it a shot? The coronavirus has already tossed any normality out the window, making this an ideal time to experiment.

Can I Interest You in a Toronto Raptors vs. Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Series?

So let’s imagine, for the moment, that this all goes forward. The bubble spins up in late June, probably with 2-3 “exhibition games” to help everyone get back into shape, and then the first round kicks off. Your seeding, courtesy of our man Jay Rosales, looks like this:

NBA Playoffs bracket, no conference

Jay Rosales

The Raptors, with the third-best record in the league, would play the team with the 14th-best record.

Raptors-Grizzlies in Round 1? Oh, hell yeah.

This is an awesome matchup, because A) who the heck wants to see the Magic again, B) the Grizzlies are super fun, and C) the Raptors and Grizzlies didn’t even play each other this season!

We’ve been robbed of seeing the Raptors face their old friend Jonas Valanciunas, not to mention new face Ja Morant, as well as Canadians Dillon Brooks and Brandon Clarke. Seeing these teams square off in a best-of-seven or best-of-five would be fantastic.

The above bracket also leaves open the possibility of a Raptors-Bucks or Raptors-Clippers Final, should the Raptors make it that far. It wouldn’t be easy: the second-round matchup would be either Denver or Indiana, and we’d be looking at (most likely) the Lakers in the third round. In fact, the Raptors would potentially (again, likely) face three Western Conference opponents before even getting to the Finals! Fascinating.

There are, naturally, still several hurdles for the NBA to jump over before a comeback is even confirmed, let alone this idea made official. But the very idea of a Raptors-Grizzlies series actually has me a little excited about the possibility of a bubble tournament!

What do you think of this possible scenario?