The NBA season begins Oct. 19, and it will be interesting for a variety of reasons. The offseason was much shorter, and teams will be going back to the traditional 82-game season. We’ll still have the play-in round for the playoffs, so there will be some incentive to claiming one of the top six spots, but teams are likely to prioritize players’ rest and health at all costs.
It has been a talking point across all sports, but a lot of bettors are unsure how much stock to put into the previous season’s results and stats. COVID-19 altered lineups, changed life on the road and led to fewer games overall, so teams may have played things a little differently.
While the schedule was only 10 games shorter, it was also a lot more condensed. It had a first half and a second half, and teams were unaware of their schedules for the latter part of the season until right around the All-Star break. Teams played their 72 games over 146 days from Dec. 22 to May 16. Teams will play 82 games over 174 days from Oct. 19 to April 10 this season.
Perhaps the biggest change last season was at the top. We got some new blood in the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks took enormous strides in the Eastern Conference. The upstart Phoenix Suns went all the way to the NBA Finals to represent the Western Conference. The Dallas Mavericks made a big push. The Utah Jazz won more games than they had in a decade, and that was with fewer chances to accumulate wins.
It was a treat to see some new teams there, but the usual suspects were also present. The Milwaukee Bucks won the title, the Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers were still high seeds and the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat added more playoff appearances.