The NBA is moving forward with its plan of resuming its 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA’s “re-opening” night will feature a double-header July 30 that will air on TNT.
The early game will feature star rookie Zion Williamson leading the New Orleans Pelicans against the Utah Jazz. It was Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s positive test in March that led the NBA suspending its season in mid-March. The back end of the doubleheader will pit the Los Angeles Lakers against its inner city rival Clippers — though the game, like all during the NBA’s restart, will be played in Orlando.
From a TV perspective, the resumption of the season is following the broadcast pattern used for the league’s Opening Week in October, which typically tips off with a double-header on TNT. ESPN will air two games on July 31 — the Boston Celtics vs the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets vs the Dallas Mavericks.
Overall, TNT will have 18 “Seeding Games” and air double-headers on Tuesday, and triple-headers on Thursday. ESPN will have 17, while ABC will get three. Each of the 22 teams that are part of the NBA’s restart will play eight games to determine playoff seeding.
The playoff TV schedule figures to be unchanged from what it would have been during a normal season. If the NBA is able to stage the remainder of the games without having to shut down again, the NBA Finals will finish no later than October 13.
The NBA is attempting to finish out its season amid a worrying trend over the last week that seen cases of the COVID-19 disease increase, particularly in Florida, which will house the NBA’s completion of its season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. The Florida Department of Health says 8,942 people tested positive for the coronavirus, its highest daily total yet.