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The NBA season is back in action after only a few months ago we saw the Los Angeles Lakers take down the Miami Heat in the Finals. How will the 2020-21 NBA season fare?

This regular season will be much different from last, with it starting a few days ago in contrast to who it usually starts at the end of October. This season will also follow more protocols regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How will this season go as we enter a new world for sports and the NBA? Will there be another playoff bubble? Will we see issues occur like the NFL in postponing or canceling games? We already saw it with the Houston Rockets game getting canceled. 

Then there is also the league storylines. Will James Harden stay in Houston? Will LeBron win a fifth ring as the Lakers go back-to-back? Can the Clippers overcome last year's 3-1 choke job? Will the Heat make it back, or will it be the Bucks? Is KD back and the Nets going to be trouble?

Let's take a look at our preview and predictions for this NBA season. 

Standings

LeBron-vs-giannis-bucks-lakers-2020

Eastern Conference

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Brooklyn Nets
3. Miami Heat
4. Boston Celtics
5. Philadelphia 76ers
6. Toronto Raptors
7. Indiana Pacers
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Washington Wizards (Play-In)
10. Orlando Magic (Play-In)
11. Chicago Bulls
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
14. Charlotte Hornets
15. New York Knicks

Western Conference Standings

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Denver Nuggets
4. Portland Trail Blazers
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Golden State Warriors
8. New Orleans Pelicans
9. Utah Jazz (Play-In)
10. Houston Rockets (Play-In)
11. San Antonio Spurs
12. Minnesota Timberwolves
13. Memphis Grizzlies
14. Sacramento Kings
15. Oklahoma City Thunder

Awards

MVP

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Defensive Player of the Year

Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Rookie of the Year

James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

Most Improved Player of the Year

Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets

Sixth Man of the Year

Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets

Coach of the Year

Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers

Executive of the Year

Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers

Eastern Conference Playoffs

Like last year, the ninth seed will have a chance to steal a playoff spot this season. The NBA is switching it up a little bit though, giving the 10th seed a chance as well. Here's the format, per the NBA:
The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will be the seventh seed in the playoffs for its conference.

The team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Nine-Ten Game”). The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the playoffs for its conference.

Play-In Tournament

7/8 Seed Game
Pacers defeat Hawks to become 7th seed

9/10 Seed Game
Wizards defeat Magic

8th Seed Game
Wizards defeat Hawks twice to become the 8th seed

First Round

(1) Bucks over (8) Wizards in 6
(2) Nets over (7) Pacers in 5
(3) Heat over (6) Raptors in 6
(4) Celtics over (5) 76ers in 6

Semifinals

(1) Bucks over (4) Celtics in 6
(2) Nets over (3) Heat in 7

Finals

(2) Nets over (1) Bucks in 6

Western Conference Playoffs

Play-In Tournament

7/8 Seed Game
Warriors defeat Pelicans to become 7th seed

9/10 Seed Game
Rockets defeat Jazz 

8th Seed Game 
Pelicans defeat Rockets to become 8th seed

First Round

(1) Lakers over (8) Pelicans in 5
(7) Warriors over (2) Clippers in 7
(6) Suns over (3) Nuggets in 7
(4) Blazers over (5) Mavericks in 6

Semifinals

(1) Lakers over (4) Blazers in 6
(7) Warriors over (6) Suns in 7

Finals

(1) Lakers over (7) Warriors in 5

NBA Finals

Lakers over Nets in 5

Finals MVP: LeBron James

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