Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Basketball is apparently back. The NBA has released its 88-game seeding schedule for the 22 teams that will gather during July at the ESPN Sports Complex in Disney World. NBC Sports Boston has announced that they will carry all eight Celtics games, and six of those contests are also scheduled for national TV.
The league is forging ahead with its plan to finish the season and postseason despite evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic is anything but under control, especially in Florida.
The NBA and the players association – both of which have ($$$)millions of reasons to play out the season – reached agreement Friday morning on the final plan. Two of your favorite Celtics were deeply involved.
Commissioner Adam Silver admitted the restart attempt is risky, but he insisted the league must move forward.
“We know that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future,” Silver said on a conference call Friday afternoon with several league officials. “And we are left with no choice but to learn to live with this virus.
“No options are risk-free right now.” […]
“My ultimate conclusion is that we can’t outrun the virus, and that this is what we’re gonna be living with for the foreseeable future — which is why we designed the campus the way we did,” Silver said. “And so it’s a closed network; and while it’s not impermeable, we are in essence protected from cases around us. At least, that’s the model.
“So for those reasons, we’re still very comfortable being in Orlando.”
Silver also acknowledged that the plan might ultimately not work.
“If we were to have significant spread of coronavirus through our community, that ultimately might lead us to stopping,” Silver said. “But we’re working closely with the Players’ Association, with Disney, and with public health officials in Florida as to what that line should be. And it hasn’t been precisely designed. I think we want to get down on the ground and start to see how our testing’s working and how the protocols are working and then we’ll make decisions as we go.”
Assuming the games are played, the Celtics have the third most favorable schedule in terms of opponents’ won-lost records, while the Raptors have the second toughest. That might help Boston move up from their current 3 seed past Toronto for the East’s no. 2 spot.
The Celtics’ biggest game? Aug. 7 against the Toronto Raptors. Here’s why: Toronto currently holds the No. 2 seed in the East. Boston would love to surpass the Raptors to avoid a tough first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, and claiming the No. 2 seed would help.
A certain Boston legend who now specializes in spicy takes spoke a lot of Truth about the Celtics chances in this wild new NBA landscape.
One more point that emerged yesterday: the NBA and its players remain committed to the current push for social justice in America.
“We’ve been working with (NBPA Executive Director) Michele [Roberts], Chris [Paul] and Andre [Iguodala] and several other players on a shared goal that the season restart leads to collective action towards combating systematic racism and promoting social justice,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “This includes strategies to increase Black representation in all positions across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-operated businesses across NBA business activities, and the formation of an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community.”
The NBA is a league full of predominantly Black players but mostly White coaches and executives. Part of the calls for change has included more representation in front offices. The promise to include more Black-owned businesses in the NBA’s dealings was also a major point for the players.
“I think we agree on a number of initiatives that would spotlight social injustices,” Paul said. “I think that’s what makes me so excited about our league… to see the type of input and the ideas that guys have so that we can build awareness, we can spotlight on some of these Black-owned businesses. I’m excited for what we can do that’s a lot bigger than the game.”
October 13 is scheduled as the potential last day of the NBA Finals. Between now and then, the possibilities range from the most intense playoffs we’ve ever seen to no basketball at all. All of that will play out in the real-world backdrop of a deadly pandemic, a reeling economy, social upheaval and, don’t forget, the US presidential election on November 3.
You think 2020 has been insane so far? Buckle up, it’s about to get crazier.
NBC Sports Boston: NBA season return: Breaking down the Celtics’ final eight games in Orlando | Is the No. 2 seed in reach for restart Celtics? | Celtics legend Paul Pierce says Boston has NBA’s ‘best starting five” | Celtics at Home: What if the NBA can’t control the Orlando bubble?
Pro Basketball Talk: Seven must-watch games from NBA Orlando restart
Bleacher Report: Biggest Winners and Losers from NBA’s Schedule Release
On Page 2: The Tre & Tacko Show
Look, it’s some actual news about basketball when it was played in arenas with fans. Can you remember those days?
Congrats to the two rookies for their honors. Waters, the G League Rookie of the Year, showed during his brief appearances with the Celtics that can definitely play at the NBA level. With two-way players eligible for this unprecedented finish to the season, it’s plausible that Tremont may see some minutes in meaningful situations.
If this were a normal year, which it is absolutely not, Waters would have had no impact on the Celtics’ postseason hopes. As a two-way player who splits his roster time between the main club and its G League affiliate, he wouldn’t even been eligible to make the Celtics’ postseason roster.
Right now however, he could be an asset. When an NBA player tests positive for the coronavirus, they are immediately put in quarantine. This, alongside the fact that there will be players who will understandably opt out of the league-mandated trip to Walt Disney World given the risks of playing during this pandemic, means that teams will have an additional need to expand their rosters. […]
Waters, however, may have already shown that he has little more to learn down in what amounts to the basketball minor leagues. In 36 games with the Red Claws, Waters has averaged 18.0 points and 3.2 rebounds and has established himself as the team’s key offensive player. He has also been impressive at defense, averaging nearly two steals a game. […]
Meanwhile, the Celtics’ other two-way player, Tacko Fall, is less likely to make much of a difference, but it will at least be fun to have him on the bench.
Although Tacko is unlikely to be a factor, he’ll be a joyous human victory cigar should the Celtics have any blowout wins. There will be no Gino sightings in Disney World, but there could certainly be some Tacko Times.
And, finally… Baller Brad
Are these highlights from the Bob Cousy era? No! It’s Brad Stevens making it rain for the Zionsvillle (Indiana) Community High School Eagles back in the day. Simply unstoppable.
The Rest of the Links:
NBC Sports Boston: NBA salary cap, luxury tax creating difficult decisions for Celtics’ bench