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Report: NBA could employ 3-game playoff series format

With practice facilities opening up Friday, the NBA could be returning sooner than we think.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a press conference during NBA All Star Saturday Night at United Center.  Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA opened its practice facilities on Friday to teams in cities that have lessened stay-at-home restrictions. Only three teams — the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers and Nuggets, per reports — decided to let players practice in a controlled environment while taking strict safety precautions.

It’s unclear when every team will be back at practice, but The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor had a lot of stuff on next steps. The NBA could “truncate the playoff schedule with three-game series in the early rounds, or schedule back-to-back games at any point, to swiftly conclude the playoffs.”

We don’t know if the NBA will decide to return with the regular season or head right into the postseason. There had been talk of a tournament-style playoff that would allow all teams to participate via play-in games. This idea is unlikely to happen, per O’Connor. The NHL is reportedly looking into this but that could be because of the amount of teams realistically contending.

As for non-playoff teams, which are plentiful in the NBA, there are mixed reviews. We’ve already seen comments from Steve Kerr saying the Warriors are in offseason mode. O’Connor quotes a few sources, including Larry Nance Jr. of the Cavaliers, saying they’d want to play out the regular season in preparation for 2020-21.

If the regular season were to return, the entire calendar would need to be pushed back. We already know the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery has been moved back from May 19. That should push back the date of the 2020 NBA Draft and would effectively throw everything off. This could mean next season starts around Christmas Day, first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Either way, there’s not much time for the NBA to start making decisions. The clock is ticking on this season.