Players are getting acclimatized to the bubble in Orlando ahead of the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, and while physical conditioning will be a huge factor in a team’s success, it might not be the most important thing.
“You gotta get through all the mental stuff first,” Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk told Good Show on Wednesday. “Being in the bubble and being by yourself out here. The most mentally tough teams are going to definitely thrive out here. Then obviously you’re going to have to be in good shape. You had four months off so if you’re in shape and ready to go you’re gonna be good. If you’re not, you’re gonna wear down and you’ll see that.”
The NBA suspended its season in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but game action starts up again Thursday. Each participating team is scheduled to play eight “regular season” games in front of no fans to determine seeding before the playoff begin in mid-August.
“It’s still basketball,” Olynyk said. “It’s nothing different. You’re still going out there and playing the game you love to play at the highest level. The only difference is the atmosphere really.”
Outside of not being able to see family and friends, Olynyk said one of the biggest differences is encountering opponents on a daily basis.
“We’re all staying in the same hotel – we all have kind of like our own floor – so you see everybody almost every day whether it’s walking to practice or meals or testing or whatever it is, so that part is different,” he explained. “The bubble life, it’s not bad. It’s different than everybody’s used to but I mean it’s a good life. We’re staying in a nice hotel, you’re getting fed three times a day and you get to play basketball. There’s not much more you could ask for right now.”
The Toronto native and Gonzaga alumnus was averaging 7.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 18.5 minutes per game in his third season with the Heat prior to the league’s hiatus.
Miami was 41-24 and sat fourth in the Eastern Conference when the season was halted. The Heat play the Nuggets, Raptors, Celtics, Bucks, Suns, Thunder and Pacers twice in the eight games before the playoffs begin.