We don't know when basketball will return.
But if it does in time for a postseason - regardless of how said postseason looks - count one recent Hall of Famer as someone who is excited.
"Man, I can't wait for the playoffs this year."
That was Kevin Garnett as told to current LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers who recently spoke with his former player on the day that Garnett was elected into the Hall of Fame. Rivers, who spoke with media members on a conference call, elaborated on why Garnett felt so strongly. "In typical KG fashion, 'No excuses, no one should have any excuses. Everyone's going to be healthy. Everyone's going to be rested. I don't want to hear any excuses.' I thought about it, I said, 'He's right.'"
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Rivers mentioned that both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George should be in phenomenal shape should the NBA return to finish the 2019-20 season. He also mentioned the Philadelphia 76ers as a team that could be in position to take advantage of the time off with the opportunity for both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to return from injuries that had sidelined them in the weeks leading into the COVID-19 suspension.
Of course, there's a major caveat. It's dangerous to assume that players will simply be able to lace 'em up and get right back into it after an extended hiatus. Regardless of social distancing workout regimens, there's no substitute for being in basketball shape or rhythm. Some players will show varying degrees of rust. Some players may struggle more than others to quickly return to form.
But for argument's sake, let's put all of that aside and for a moment just contemplate the idea of a postseason with everyone healthy.
How would the Clippers look with a healthy Leonard and George? They were 7-1 with their re-configured starting lineup following the acquisition of Marcus Morris.
How would the Lakers fare with LeBron James and Anthony Davis at 100%? They were 11-2 over their last 13 with statement wins over both the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks.
How relieved would the Bucks be with time for Giannis Antetokounmpo to get right? He suffered a sprained knee in that loss to the Lakers and missed each of the next two games - both losses - which means suddenly a team on pace to win 70 much of the season was suddenly in relative free fall. Sure, it was deemed minor, but a knee injury of any type is nothing to scoff at and any lingering issue to the presumptive MVP wouldn't have inspired much confidence for a title push.
How much of a threat would the Philadelphia 76ers be with time for both Simmons and Embiid to work their way back into shape? With a losing record over their last 17 games, the sixth-seeded Sixers were sliding in the wrong direction even after spending a good chunk of the season underachieving. They're suddenly in position to start with a proverbial clean slate.
How about the Toronto Raptors? You know... the team that's missed more games due to injury than any other projected playoff team? Nick Nurse has somehow guided the Raptors to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference despite the daily patchwork lineups a result of an endless game of musical chairs.
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How might the Houston Rockets benefit from a little extra time to freshen up? Many pundits wondered how they'd ultimately hold up going small over the long haul and after showing some signs of that coming to a head, the Rockets find themselves with ample time to regather and recharge.
How about the Boston Celtics? Somewhat lost in the emergence of Jayson Tatum have been underlying concerns about how they'd re-integrate Kemba Walker who had only just returned to the lineup after missing nine games since the start of February. With even more time to continue his rehab, Walker should be as fresh as he's been all year and ready to roll.
How about the team with the NBA's third-best record since December 1? So maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder haven't dealt with many injuries, it's still a team reliant upon a 34-year-old point guard with a history of late-season health hiccups. You think Chris Paul might benefit from a little time off?
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This list goes on and on, but the point remains that with everyone healthy, we'd enter whatever is left of a season with every team more or less on an even playing field. The same can't be said for most seasons after the attrition of an 82-game season leaves some teams licking their wounds before Game 1 of the 1st Round.
There are no excuses in the sense that every team is dealing with the same set of circumstances. Odd? Absolutely. Fair. You bet.
So when Kevin Garnett says that he can't wait for the playoffs, I'm right there with him.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.