Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 6: Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards high fives his teammate during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 6, 2020 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards FAQs: What to know about the NBA’s return plan

Earlier this month, the NBA and NBPA announced an agreement to return to play after a three-month hiatus aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. In early July, 22 teams, including the Wizards, will report to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fl. to begin team training for official game action, which is set to resume later that month.

Below is everything you need to know about the NBA’s return, the Wizards’ outlook and preparations, how to follow and more. This list of FAQs will be updated as more information is made available.

When will official game action resume?

After training camps and a series of scrimmages throughout the month of July, official game play will begin with a pair of primetime games on July 30, though the Wizards will not play their first game until the following day, July 31.

How is the remaining schedule structured?

Last week, the NBA announced the schedule for all 22 teams participating in the league’s restart in Orlando. An overview of the Wizards’ schedule can be found HERE.

Each team in attendance will play eight “seeding games” to determine the top eight teams in each conference who will advance to the NBA Playoffs. The league added one twist to allow for extra competition for the spot in each conference.

According to a league announcement: “If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.”

“If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.”

Once the top eight seeds in each conference are determined, the league will proceed to a traditional 16-team, two-conference playoff format with four best-of-seven rounds, concluding with the NBA Finals. A possible Game 7 of the NBA Finals would take place no later than October 12, but could be moved up depending on the results of prior rounds.

What other teams are returning to play?

Of the 22 teams returning to action, 13 come from the Western Conference and nine from the East. To qualify, teams had to be within six games of the eighth seed at the time play was suspended in March.

Eastern Conference: Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards

Western Conference: Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns

What do the Wizards have to do to qualify for the playoffs?

The Wizards (24-40) are currently 5.5 games back of the Orlando Magic (30-35) for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and 6.0 games back of the Brooklyn Nets (30-34). Washington needs to get within four games of Orlando by the end of the eight seeding games to trigger a double-elimination play-in series against the Magic. In other words, the Wizards must close a 1.5 game gap in the standings and then win the double-elimination series to secure the eighth seed.

Where will the Wizards’ games be broadcast?

The Wizards’ first seven games will be televised on NBC Sports Washington, with the broadcast information for their final game against Boston still to be determined. All games will be broadcast via radio on WFED 1500 AM. As of today, the Wizards will play one nationally televised seeding game when they take on the Sixers on August 5. The game will be broadcast on NBATV.

When and where will the Wizards begin training for their return to play?

For the last few weeks, Wizards players have been training on an individual, voluntary basis at the team facility. Inclusion of the coaching staff in those workouts was slowly integrated as the return process moved from Phase 1 to Phase 2 of the NBA’s plan. On July 1, the team will begin to host mandatory workouts at the team facility, though they still be conducted individually.

Once arriving in Orlando on July 7 and after passing the necessary testing requirements, players will be cleared to being participating in team workouts, practices, weight training and other team activities, including the team’s scrimmages leading up to the seeding games.

How does the NBA’s return to play impact the offseason schedule?

In addition to the remainder of the season’s schedule, the league announced a number of key offseason dates that were delayed due to the hiatus, including the NBA Draft Lottery, the NBA Draft and a tip-off date for the 2020-21 season. Assuming all moves according to schedule, the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is set to take place on August 25 and the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery on October 16. The start of the 2020-21 regular season will likely tip off in early December.

How does the new format impact the NBA Draft Lottery?

According to a league announcement: “The 14 NBA Lottery teams would be the eight teams that do not participate in the restart and the six teams that participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams would be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through games of March 11. The 16 playoff teams would draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.”

No team in attendance in Orlando will see their lottery odds improve based on how they play in the seeding games. Based on the current standings, the Wizards will likely be either the 9th or 10th best odds if they do not qualify for the playoffs and the 15th best odds if they qualify for the playoffs.

Why Orlando?

The remainder of the season will be conducted in its entirety at Walt Disney World Resort, a private campus environment that allows players and staff and enclosed setting for all their games, practices, housing and recreation for however long their team is competing. The campus environment is intended to minimize risks related to COVID-19.

What is the league doing to keep the environment safe for those in attendance?

The league sent to teams an extensive series of health and safety protocols, including guidelines for team training camps in their home cities, the travel and arrival process in Orlando, living accommodations on the Disney World Resort campus, recreational options and, of course, on-court and in-arena activity.

The NBA’s guidelines included a six-phase plan that runs through the NBA Playoffs. The first three phases apply to the 22 participating teams’ efforts to train and prepare for resumption while in their home cities; Phase 4 covers transport, arrival and clearance to begin team activities in Orlando; and Phases 5-6 detail protocols for the resumption of gameplay, including scrimmages, seeding games and the NBA Playoffs.

General protocol that applies from start to finish includes facemask requirements at all times, except for when dining, working out, participating in activity outdoors not within six feet of another person and time spent in one’s individual room. The league states that six feet of distance should be maintained at all times excluding workouts, training and game play.

Ticket information

The remainder of the NBA season will be closed to the public. All information related to Wizards season tickets, partial plans, group tickets, individual game tickets and more can be found HERE.

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