NBA Returns, Betting Is Back… Although 2020 Hasn’t Been Much Of A Slam Dunk

Barbara Nathan Updated on July 29, 2020
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Virtually every other aspect of our lives has created major upheaval this year, so why should NJ sports betting be any different? NBA returns, but what now?

Ordinarily, the NBA regular season starts in late October and ends in late April, followed by the playoffs.

That’s where the top eight teams in each conference square off and, ultimately, sometime in June, the NBA champion is crowned. But not this year.

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Mid-March Shutdown of All Major Sports

Due to COVID-19, all of the major sports leagues in the US, including the NBA, were compelled, for safety reasons, to shut down completely in March. On March 16, all nine Atlantic City casinos closed.

After remaining closed for an unprecedented nearly four months, all but the Borgata reopened July 2 or 3.

Borgata finally reopened, too, but not until July 26. However, online and mobile casinos and sportsbooks remained open.

As disconcerting as it was not being able to visit our favorite Atlantic City casinos for such a prolonged period, casino players did not experience anywhere near the difficulty adapting as sports bettors.

First, NJ online casino and mobile gambling was readily available 24/7. Secondly, we all knew that the casinos couldn’t stay closed indefinitely. It was only a matter of time before Gov. Murphy would give the green light for them to reopen.

However, during the entire shutdown, it was anybody’s guess whether the 2020 NBA and NHL seasons were over for good or if they could pick up where they left off and resume at a later date. It was also anybody’s guess whether the major league baseball season would even start.

Online sportsbooks remained open. But for discriminating players who couldn’t care less who the top professional dart players or Chinese baseball players were, the pickings were slim indeed.

The MLB, NHL, & NBA Return ASAP

The good news now is that in addition to Major League Baseball, which has already started, the NBA and NHL are also back, and football is right around the corner.

Typically, the summer is one of the slowest times of the year for sports betting. But in this topsy-turvy year, the sportsbooks and bettors will have all the action they can handle.

But it’s the only way that will allow the leagues to complete the 2019-2020 regular seasons, or at least a modified and shortened version, and crown a champion before the start of the new 2020-21 season.

Therefore, once again, the NJ online sportsbooks will offer full-scale betting on the NBA. Just as before, you will have no shortage of options. The sportsbooks will post point spreads, moneylines, and totals on every game. Or if you like to dabble in specialty bets like parlays, props, in-play bets, and futures, all of those are available, too.

However, there are other aspects of this resumed but abbreviated NBA season that will be very different. So before you plunge in, it is important to understand where and under what conditions the games will take place, which teams will participate, how many games they will play, and how the playoff seedings will be determined.

22 of the 30 Teams are ready for NBA action to resume. Are you?

As mentioned, the interrupted 2019-20 NBA season is resuming. But for those of you who haven’t kept up with the published reports on how the balance of the season will play out, don’t assume anything. If you think it’s simply a matter of assigning new dates where each team will play out all of the remaining home and away games previously scheduled, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, some teams won’t play at all. Also, if you typically make your betting selections based on such factors as home court advantage and team travel schedules, you can throw those handicapping aids out the window. None of the teams will play on their own home court, nor will there be any travel to different cities.

All games will take place at the same neutral site, which has been specially designed for this purpose.

Balance of 2019-2020 NBA season basics

Here is a brief summary of the important facts you need to know about how the remainder of the current NBA season will work. For more detailed information, keep reading.

  • Regular season: Thurs., July 30 – Fri, Aug. 14. Each participating team will play a total of eight games. Most of the games will be nationally televised.
  • Participating teams: Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, only the 22 with the best records so far have been invited to play.
  • NBA Playoffs: The playoffs will consist of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference and the top eight teams in the Western Conference. The playoffs will adhere to the same Best of Seven format for each series as usual. The playoffs will start on Mon., Aug. 17. They will end on Tues., Oct. 13 at the latest.
  • Where the games will take place: All of the games will take place inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center at the Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, FL, otherwise known as the NBA Bubble.

NBA Returns – Participating teams

Going forward, the NBA’s primary concern is to protect the health and safety of the players and other team personnel and everyone they may come into contact with during the course of their daily activities.

A great deal of thought, therefore, went into setting up stringent rules and protocols whereby team personnel and their families could be reasonably assured that the agreement to participate would not pose otherwise avoidable health risks. Even so, individual players who, for whatever reason, prefer not to participate, would not be obligated to do so.

One of the requirements is being away from one’s home city and family for an extended period of time. Under the circumstances, players who are experiencing health problems or are still recovering from injuries or who have family or personal problems they need to address may choose not to join the NBA Bubble in Orlando, and that is their prerogative.

That includes players on teams that have either already clinched a playoff berth or are still in contention.

On the other hand, given both the significantly shortened remainder of the regular season and the considerable adjustments all participating players would have to make, it makes no sense to ask players on teams with no shot at making the playoffs to make the trip.

That is the thinking behind extending the invitation to the following teams only (listed for each conference, in order of their rank in the conference based on the games played this season so far).

Eastern Conference

  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Boston Celtics
  • Miami Heat
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Orlando Magic
  • Washington Wizards

Western Conference

  • LA Lakers
  • LA Clippers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Utah Jazz
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Houston Rockets
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Portland Trailblazers
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Phoenix Suns

Only eight teams from each conference can make the playoffs. However, in this instance, final seeding within each conference will be based solely on conference standing. Which team leads each division will be immaterial.

However, as indicated above, along with the teams in the top eight spots so far, the teams in each conference that so far are within five places of the eighth-seeded team will also play. That way, if the team currently in eighth place should falter, another team could sneak into the last playoff spot instead.

Which teams are excluded?

However, for the following eight NBA teams with the worst record (six in the Eastern Conference and two in the Western Conference), their season is officially over. No players from these teams will make the trip to Orlando.

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • NY Knicks
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Golden State Warriors

How the NBA Bubble will work

Players started arriving at the Bubble on July 7 to prepare and practice for the remainder of the season. The games will take place at three different arenas inside the Walt Disney complex specifically designed for this purpose. None of the games will have spectators.

Everyone making the trip to join the NBA Bubble is subject to a strict set of rules, including but not limited to the following. Non-adherence can be cause for ejection from the premises.

  • Wearing a mask while indoors is required at all times unless eating or in one’s own room.
  • As of this writing, no guests are permitted.
  • Participants must adhere to strict rules regarding where they obtain their food.
  • Upon entering the Orlando Bubble, all players are required to quarantine for up to 48 hours and register two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests. Daily COVID-19 tests are required thereafter as well with a mandatory designated additional quarantine period for anyone who misses a test. As of this writing,  two of 322 players have tested positive for the virus after arriving at the Orlando Bubble while still undergoing the mandatory initial quarantine. They have since left the area to remain quarantined elsewhere.
  • Players who arrive at the Bubble late and/or leave for any reason and then wish to return will also be subject to extended quarantine requirements. Returning players must not only produce a negative COVID-19 test for each day they are away from the Bubble but will be required to spend up to 10 days in quarantine upon their return.

Special rules for those with previous positive tests for COVID-19

Players who have had the virus in the past are not necessarily excluded from participating. However, besides being symptom-free, they must pass a thorough medical examination and produce two consecutive negative tests before they can be cleared to join their teammates in the Bubble.

Guidelines for Bettors

Now that you have a basic idea about what lies ahead for the rest of this NBA season, many of you will probably want to place some bets.

Which NJ sportsbooks will take your NBA bets?

Of course, as long as you are physically situated in New Jersey you can bet at any of the state-regulated online or mobile sportsbooks where you have an account.

Or, if you prefer, you can visit one of the sportsbooks in Atlantic City. As of this writing, these are the five AC casino sportsbooks that are currently open:

  • Borgata
  • William Hill at Ocean Casino Resort
  • William Hill at Tropicana
  • DraftKings at Resorts
  • Hard Rock

We suggest you check with the sportsbook you want to visit beforehand, as the hours of operation may be reduced. Provided the sportsbook is open, you can watch the games there. But if you want to eat or drink, you will have to order your food and beverages elsewhere and have them in your hotel room or outside.

Some helpful NBA handicapping hints: Important factors to consider

As for deciding what bets to make, you are strictly on your own. However, I would give a decided edge to teams whose coach and participating players have a lot of experience as opposed to teams that will be relying heavily on rookies. Also, some teams will be missing key players. While their absence will be built into the line, it might not be to the extent it should be, particularly when the season starts.

Lastly, Caesars Casino & Sports is offering a prop bet on whether or not the NBA playoffs will be played this year. The current odds are -120 for Yes and +100 for No. At first, I thought the odds for Yes should have been steeper, but maybe not.

MLB games this week have already been canceled due to Marlins and Phillies players recently having positive COVID-19 tests. So even though the NBA games won’t entail travel back and forth like the MLB games, it is entirely possible that the rest of the season won’t play out as planned after all.

Here on NJ Online Casino and our other site NJ Gambling Websites, we will continue to keep you informed of the important developments in the NBA and all major sports.

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