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Brooklyn Nets eye summer start date for postseason tournament

NBA Board of Governors to vote Thursday to decide playoff scenario

June 3, 2020 John Torenli
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The Brooklyn Nets, idle since March 11 along with the rest of the NBA due to the ongoing coroanvirus pandemic, might finally have a start date for their potential return to the hardwood later this summer.

Reports circulating since a meeting of the NBA Board of Governors last Friday indicate that the league is aiming for a July 31 restart date.

All games would be played in and around the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, Florida, where anywhere from 20 to 24 teams would regather to begin training at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in advance of a postseason tournament.

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The league has not yet officially ruled out playing the remainder of the regular season, but that scenario remains highly unlikely.

The Nets, who were 30-34, riding a three-game winning streak and seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race at the time of the stoppage, would be playoff eligible in either of the two scenarios the league is reportedly discussing.

In a 20-team playoff format, the Nets would have to participate in a four-team group stage round robin — similar to the FIFA World Cup — to advance to more traditional best-of-seven postseason rounds.

In a 22- or 24-team scenario, Brooklyn would lie in wait while teams on the outskirts of the original 16-team qualifying field battle it out in elimination games to determine the Nets’ first-round opponent.

The Board of Governors is expected to vote Thursday on which playoff scenario to go with next month, but either way, the Nets will return to the postseason for a second straight season after bowing out in five games to Philadelphia during last year’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

While safety and testing protocols will doubtlessly be the league’s major concerns going forward, the Nets have some huge questions regarding who will be on the roster when the team descends on Disney World either later this month or in early July.

Kevin Durant, the superstar Nets General Manager Sean Marks brought to Brooklyn last summer alongside Kyrie Irving, might be able to participate in the team’s drive toward its first-ever NBA title.

Out for Brooklyn’s first 64 regular-season games and expected to miss the entire season prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Durant has had nearly a full year off since he suffered a torn Achilles during Game 5 of last year’s NBA Finals as a member of the Golden State Warriors.

Irving, who has only played in 20 games thus far this season due to injury, could also be cleared to return, after having shoulder surgery earlier in the year.

That would give the Nets their dynamic duo on the floor for the very first time, albeit in Orlando rather than Brooklyn.

It would also make the Nets a genuine contender to represent the East in the Finals, something they haven’t done since 2003, when the franchise was still situated in New Jersey.

Brooklyn players began visiting the HSS Training Center in Sunset Park last week as the Nets became one of the last NBA teams to be allowed to return to their practice facility in small groups and under strict safety guidelines.

To add Durant and Irving to a team that was playoff-eligible without them would be a major boon not only to the Nets’ championship chances, but to Brooklyn basketball fanatics who have been waiting to see how this season plays out.

Nets owner Joe Tsai lent his signature to a strong joint statement Sunday supporting those angered and frustrated by the “senseless and devastating loss of George Floyd.” Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP

Nothing But Net: With protests and demonstrations taking place right outside Downtown’s Barclays Center, the Nets, along with the New York Liberty, the Long Island Nets and the organization that runs the arena itself weighed in on the ongoing civil unrest sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd. “We mourn the senseless and devastating loss of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who lost their lives because of racial bias,” read the joint statement, which was signed by Nets owner Joe Tsai and his wife, Clara, Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb, Marks, Nets Alternate Governor Ollie Weisberg, Long Island Nets Vice President Alton Byrd and Liberty COO Keia Clarke. “Today, we stand up and speak up against all forms of racial discrimination — overt or subconscious — especially against the Black community. We want to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ … We don’t pretend to have all the solutions. The organizations represented by the undersigned are committed to using our voice and our platform to facilitate empathy and dialogue, to help find answers, to heal the wound and pain. We will continue work alongside our community — our fans, players, employees, and including law enforcement — to raise awareness, push back on racial prejudice and bring about meaningful change.”

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