There’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the NBA, and that includes the Miami Heat.
But at least some clarity was offered Thursday night in the wake of the league’s decision to suspend the season because of the coronavirus pandemic. In what he titled “A Letter to NBA Fans,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote “the hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”
With the stoppage starting Thursday, the 30-day mark is April 10. That means all but three of the remaining 17 games on the Heat’s regular-season schedule would need to be either canceled or rescheduled.
In an email to season-ticket holders, the Heat wrote: “We anticipate that remaining regular-season games will be played. But the timeframe of when that could happen remains unclear. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and very fluid situation.”
How the NBA proceeds when/if it does resume the season is still to be determined. Jumping right into the playoffs is one of the many possibilities, but so is playing out the remaining of the regular season and pushing the playoffs deep into the summer as the Heat’s letter to season-ticket holders alluded to.
In the meantime, Heat players are encouraged to stay in South Florida to avoid travel and remain prepared for the possibility of the continuation of the season. NBA teams are not allowed to hold group practices, meetings or workouts through at least Monday, but facilities remain open for individual workouts.
So, where does the Heat (41-24) stand at this break following Wednesday’s home loss to the Charlotte Hornets?
Well, if the NBA decides to resume the season by jumping straight into the playoffs, Miami will be a part of it and have home-court advantage in the first round. The Heat stands in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and it would face the fifth-place Indiana Pacers in the first round of the postseason if playoff matchups were to be determined by the current standings.
The hiatus could give Heat center Meyers Leonard an opportunity to fully heal from a sprained left ankle that has forced him to miss the past 16 games, and it will also give other injured players around the NBA time to recover.
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The Heat, which owns the league’s seventh-best offensive rating and 14th-best defensive rating this season, is nine wins away from its first 50-win season since the final year of the Big 3 era in 2013-14. Miami would need to post a 9-8 record over the final 17 games to hit 50 wins if the remainder of the regular season is played.
But that is very much still up in the air, with the NBA now in an unprecedented stoppage.
“This remains a complicated and rapidly evolving situation that reminds us that we are all part of a broader society with a responsibility to look out for one another,” Silver wrote in his letter to NBA fans.
The Heat created a website for updates on the league’s hiatus, encouraging fans to visit nba.com/heat/Covid19.
“While this is a highly unusual situation, we believe the league made the right call and acted in the best interests of our players, partners, guests and employees,” the Heat wrote in its email to season-ticket holders.
As for the NBA’s plan to deal with tickets for the remainder of the season, Silver wrote in his letter to NBA fans: “Tickets already purchased for a postponed game will be honored when the game is rescheduled. If games are not played or played in an empty arena, teams will work with fans on a credit for a future game or a refund.”
There are still so many things that need to be worked out, but the league is hopeful it will resume the season at some point.
“In the meantime, we will continue to coordinate with infectious disease and public health experts along with government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming our games,” Silver wrote.
▪ The Heat is in the process of formulating a plan to financially assist the arena workers who will lose income because of the NBA’s coronavirus shutdown, according to a league source.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love announced Thursday that he was donating $100,000 to help support the Cavaliers’ arena and support staff who are affected by the stoppage. And Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo announced Friday that he was also pledging $100,000 to the Bucks’ arena staff.
“It’s bigger than basketball!” Antetokounmpo tweeted on Friday. “And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier.”
In addition, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin joined in and said Friday he plans to donate $100,000 to the Pistons’ arena staff. Then New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson announced Friday evening that he would cover the salaries for the Pelicans’ arena staff for the next 30 days.