The league plans to shave eight minutes off the first of three exhibition games for each team in advance of the regular season restart.
Wednesday, July 22, will mark the first time we’ve had official NBA basketball in 133 days. All 22 teams have already been in the Orlando bubble for 11 days, so scrimmaging players other than themselves will be a nice change of pace. But it won’t be without a little twist.
The league plans to perform some of the exhibition games women’s basketball style – four 10-minute quarters. Two minutes will be shaved off each period and eight minutes overall. This will only occur for the first of three games for each team. The last two scrimmages will consist of the traditional, 12-minute quarters format.
The two primary reasons are for players to slowly acclimate back into professional basketball shape and some teams won’t have full rosters for exhibition play.
“You have to fast-track so much before you get to that eight-game regular season,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told Sports Illustrated in an interview, Saturday. “We’ll approach it that way and play probably everybody available, but definitely work on some things and do a little bit of evaluating as well.”
Most squads are severely shorthanded for the restart due to the coronavirus pandemic, injuries or players opting out of the season entirely for various reasons. Even this past week, Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell and New Orleans Pelicans power forward Zion Williamson departed the bubble for family emergencies.
Each team will play three scrimmages over the course of a week with a one-day reprieve before the regular season restarts.
“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,” Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “I think the vast majority of the 22 teams will approach it the same way.”
Other regulations being discussed by the league for exhibition play include allowing teams the option of wearing practice jerseys and having more than three referees officiate games in a rotation system.
The first exhibition game will be between the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers on Wed. at 3 p.m. ET.