On top of that, the Lakers had recently toppled their two biggest championship threats in the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks and James was making a push for the MVP with some vintage performances.
But now with the season set to return with a unique 22-team format on a neutral court in Orlando, Florida, the Lakers — and other top teams — will loose the home-court advantage they had worked towards for 60-plus games.
However, there have been discussions between NBA executives to give teams with home-court advantage some extra perks for the postseason, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Those include:
- The higher-seeded team being awarded the first possession of the second, third and fourth quarters, following the traditional jump ball to begin the game.
- The higher-seeded team being allowed to designate one player to be able to be whistled for seven fouls instead of six before fouling out.
- The higher-seeded team receiving an extra coach’s challenge.
- The higher-seeded teams being able to transport their actual hardwood home court from their arenas to Orlando to try to preserve the feel of their home playing experience.
- An off-court feature in which playoff teams, in order of seeding 1-16, receive first choice on picking which hotel they will stay at in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Disney World Resort. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Co.
Ric Bucher: Lakers Proposed Advantages for Home Court
The report from ESPN on the advantage proposals cited executives that “would have hosted first-round series” and quoted an anonymous Eastern Conference exec.
But FS1 NBA analyst Ric Bucher said the proposal came directly from the Lakers during an appearance on Speak for Yourself, saying L.A. is nervous to play on a neutral court.
“I started looking into this. This wasn’t the top seed getting together and coming up with ideas. You know who proposed these ideas? The LA Lakers proposed these ideas to the league in an email. I’ve talked to some of the other executives and they have said, ‘these haven’t even been discussed with us,'” Bucher said. “Why would they be looking for advantages if they think they’re the best team? Because they’re a little bit nervous about playing in a neutral site, playing under these unusual circumstances.”
Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer: Don’t Care About Home-Court Edge
For what it’s worth, the Lakers were 26-6 away form Staples Center this season, although this setting will be completely different than a normal road game. However, while the Lakers will miss the comfy confines of their home court and the purple and gold clad fans, there’s no reason to think their game won’t travel to Florida.
The Bucks had the best record in the NBA when the season was put on hold and coach Mike Budenholzer has said he just wants games to resume, regardless of some new form of home-court advantage — although he’d welcome it.
“I’ve been just so hoping that we actually play the games, I don’t care if they even give us the home-court advantage,” Budenholzer told ESPN’s Golic and Wingo on Wednesday. “I’m like, just be sure we play. We’ve got to get to Orlando. We’ve got to have a chance to play for a championship in the playoffs.
“I don’t care what they do. We have such a hungry team and mindset, that yeah, sure, great, give us an extra timeout, give us an extra possession. Whatever the ideas are, I’m all for it.”
The Bucks are the championship favorites at +190, with the Lakers following close behind at +250, per The Action Network. The Clippers are the next closest at +300 before it takes a huge drop with the Rockets the next closest at +1,200.