Most of the questions you seem to hear about the NBA's long hiatus in between games this season involve which teams could be helped by it. Like, who benefitted most from the break and how does that affect the title odds?
But the break is likely to hurt some teams as well and not only the eight who had their seasons prematurely cut short when they were not invited to Disney World. Here are five teams that probably would have been better off if the season just kept rolling...
One of the ways the break could hurt a team is if that team was playing really well before things came to a halt. The Raptors had the longest win streak in the NBA at the time the hiatus began (four games), and the best record in East over the previous 15 games (11-4). According to Basketball Reference's archive, they also had no significant injuries to report.
Things were shaping up well for Toronto and they were starting to create some distance between them, the No. 2 seed in the East, and the Celtics. Getting the two-seed would have been important in a normal postseason, as it usually means home court advantage until the conference finals.
The Clippers could be dinged by the break in two ways. One is that their entire season was carefully designed around the load management of Kawhi Leonard. They were playing the long game, sitting him out here and there, hoping it would help keep him fresh for the playoffs. Now, those efforts have no real bearing on the present. Every team and every player should be well-rested after so much time off.
The other way the break could be bad for the Clippers is how it may have helped the Lakers, their biggest competitor in the Western Conference. The months off gave an aging Lakers team time to rest and heal up. That means we should see the best version of LeBron James (35), Dwight Howard (34), Danny Green (33), JaVale McGee (32) and others. Plus, the rest could mean Anthony Davis won't be banged up come playoff time like he has been in the past.
Denver is a team that could have been helped by the Lakers entering the postseason tired, as they are younger and might need some breaks to emerge through what appears to be an L.A. stronghold on the West. The Nuggets also had some trouble with players getting coronavirus and/or not making the trip to Orlando.
Nikola Jokic, their best player, got Covid-19 and still hasn't joined the team at Disney World. They also have yet to see Gary Harris, Torrey Craig and Michael Porter Jr. And there has been some speculation about Monte Morris' whereabouts. Remember, the Nuggets also had to shut down their practice facility due to a coronavirus scare not long before teams traveled to Orlando.
The Kings are one of the teams that was playing some of their best basketball of the season right when things got crazy in mid-March and the league pressed pause. They were 10-5 in their previous 15 games, a stretch that not only vaulted them into the playoff race, but could have made the difference in them getting invited in the first place.
Maybe they were peaking too soon. Maybe it was a mirage. But for a young team that had disappointed so far this season compared to last, it seemed like they were finally hitting their stride. They also had some coronavirus cases of their own and, like the Nuggets, had to shut down their facilities. One piece of good news for Sacramento, though, is that Marvin Bagley III had time to heal his foot.
The Grizzlies had played themselves into the postseason picture before the break began, leaving things off at 32-33 with the eight-seed in the West. Now they go to Orlando with an adjusted playoff format and teams only needing to get within four games of them to force a play-in tournament.
That's not good for them and neither is the fact the New Orleans Pelicans, the 10th-seed, have reasons to suggest the break was really good for them. The Pelicans came out of it with a trimmed down Zion Williamson and a favorable schedule. Can Memphis hang on?
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