Under normal circumstances, the Milwaukee Bucks would have had homecourt through the playoffs. Now top seeds are proposing alternative advantages.
With 65 games played before the coronavirus pandemic brought the NBA season skidding to a halt back in March, the Milwaukee Bucks were one of the NBA’s most dominant home teams, and on track to ensuring they would be able to use that to their advantage moving forward.
A 6.5 game lead over the second placed Toronto Raptors meant that the Bucks were within touching distance of wrapping up homecourt advantage through the East, while two fewer losses and four more wins than the Lakers also left the Bucks in a strong position to claim homecourt all the way through the postseason.
Of course, now the Bucks find themselves in a position where none of that really matters.
The continuing challenges of living with coronavirus makes it currently untenable for fans to be in attendance at games, while the travel requirements attached to the NBA in its usual form have now also taken away from any traditional sense of a home base.
With the season looking likely to resume at the end of next month, the Bucks will join the rest of the league’s teams in a campus-like environment in Orlando, where the season will be played to its conclusion on a neutral site at Walt Disney World.
In a strange stroke of irony, if playoff seedings were to hold up as per the current standings, that means the Bucks, whose excellent play had all but sealed homecourt advantage, would find themselves pitted against the Orlando Magic, the only team that could claim something close to homecourt under the current plans, in the first round.
Of course, this break from tradition is a necessity if the NBA wants to find a way to finish the season, and a team such as the Bucks want the opportunity to win a championship they’re well-positioned to compete for.
Still, with the clear majority of the regular season played, its understandable why there may be some discontent among the teams who would usually be rewarded with a notable advantage for the postseason, but instead may find their good work forcing them into what might be the most level playing field of any postseason in NBA history.
Therefore, it’s not that surprising that according to a report from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, some of the NBA’s top seeded teams are having discussions about whether alternative advantages could be put in place to compensate for the loss of homecourt.
“Executives from the teams that would host a first-round series in the playoffs told ESPN that they had internal discussions within their own front offices about reviving their home-court advantage in some fashion, and that some have already shared ideas with other teams in the same situation with the hopes of having an ally when making an appeal to the league.”
According to reports, teams have been discussing proposals to compensate for the loss of homecourt advantage that would have played into the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the NBA’s elite.
Among the ideas floated, according to McMenamin, are the higher seed starting the second third and fourth quarters with possession, extra fouls being afforded to a designated player, additional coaches’ challenges, getting first preference when it comes to hotel choices at Walt Disney World, or even having games played on the actual hardwood court from their home arenas.
The chances of wider support for these ideas are likely to be minimal, and so top seeded teams such as the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, and Clippers will almost certainly just have to move on while accepting that this season presents a unique challenge for everyone.
Perhaps the most plausible of those options comes in the form of hotel choice, as otherwise the NBA’s allocation of hotel to various teams likely does have the potential to become a somewhat petty source of contention. If the Bucks do get afforded a choice in that regard, at least the Lopez brothers will be able to offer up the inside track.
Still, for Milwaukee, the reality is they have been the NBA’s best team all season and have little reason to feel they can’t be that once again by the time an unusual playoffs draws to an end. The Bucks are not the Sixers — completely reliant on home games to have a chance of winning — and while some of their rivals may be clinging to the prospect of any advantage, Milwaukee should be content to simply finish what they started.