The 2019-20 NBA season will resume inside Disney World on July 30, but before we get to the real games, each team is scheduled to play three scrimmages. After a long layoff, followed by weeks of practice, these contests, beginning July 22 through the 29th, will essentially serve as the preseason schedule.
However, due to the unusual circumstances, combined with the fact that many teams don't have their full roster available, the league has decided to make some slight adjustments to the first round of scrimmages. Instead of the standard 12 minutes, quarters for each team's first exhibition game will be 10 minutes each, according to a report from the Associated Press:
The league is still working on some of the specifics for the first games, even whether to give teams the option of wearing uniforms or practice gear. Most teams, as of Saturday, were still planning to wear their usual regular-season uniforms for all three of their exhibitions -- the new jerseys featuring social justice messaging will not debut until the seeding games that count begin July 30.
Other changes for the exhibition games may include using more than three referees in a rotating system, though that also remains under discussion.
Besides the shortened quarters for the first scrimmage, and the possible additional referees, the games will otherwise be played as normal. Or, at least, they will be from a rules standpoint. Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone stressed that they will very much look like practice games, with teams across the league just looking to get guys some run and escape it with their health still intact.
"The No. 1 thing for me is can we get through these three scrimmages healthy and not getting guys put in a position where they're overworked, playing too many minutes and getting hurt," Malone said. "I think the vast majority of the 22 teams will approach it the same way."
That's a wise approach, and is exactly why the quarters are being shortened a bit for the first scrimmages. And while these exhibitions are primarily for the players to get back in game shape and regain their rhythm, the process will be important for everyone working in the bubble.
From medical staff running the health and safety procedures, to game operations and broadcast crews, the week of scrimmages will serve as a dress rehearsal to make sure things are running smoothly. And if not, it will give them time to implement changes before re-opening night.