NBA to hold playoffs in Florida “bubble”

The National Basketball Association will begin its trek to declaring a league champion beginning Thursday night. Utah takes on New Orleans at 6:30 p.m. in the return-to-play opener before the Clippers and Lakers square off at 9 p.m. in a potential Western Conference Finals preview. Both first-night games will air live on TNT.

A total of 22 NBA teams have traveled to the NBA “bubble” in Florida where they will finish out their seasons at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. Each team will play eight seeding games prior to a traditional playoffs.

When the season was suspended in March, the Bucks (53-12) were 6.5 games ahead of Toronto in the Eastern Conference, and the L.A. Lakers (49-14) were 5.5 games in front of the Clippers. Houston’s James Harden was leading the league in points per game with 34.4.

NHL restarts in Canadian “hubs”

NHL teams officially return to the ice this Saturday in two “hub” cities.The Eastern Conference will play in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the Western Conference will play in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada up until the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final, all of which will be held at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The top four teams in each conference will play a round robin tournament to determine seeding. The remaining eight teams in both conferences will meet an opponent in a best-of-five series to determine who advances to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

When the season was suspended, Boston was leading the Eastern Conference and the NHL with 44 wins and 100 points, followed by Tampa Bay (43 wins). St. Louis and Colorado, each with 42 wins apiece, were ahead of the rest of the pack in the West.

The Carolina Hurricanes face the New York Rangers in the first NHL matchup since March beginning at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Carolina, who was 35-28, will need to win three of five games to advance to the playoffs.