MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to all sports, but action is starting to get going again. After months of waiting on a return to the court, the team is set to return. Later this month the NBA’s restart will happen in Orlando.
It’s a unique situation. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins spoke to media Sunday.
March 10 was the last time the Grizzlies played a game at FedEx Forum. July 30 is the start date for the NBA’s re-start at Walt Disney World Resort.
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According to reports, the NBA spent over $150 million to create what they call a bubble. 22 teams will play 8 games to determine playoff seeding. It will be a different vibe with no fans inside the three arenas being used.
Fans aren’t allowed at games. There will be extra safety measures with testing and those who are inside the bubble have to remain on-site. That’s just one of the safety measures being taken. Players and staff will be away from their families for weeks. Guests won’t be allowed inside the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs in August.
Led by a rookie head coach and electrifying point guard, the Grizzlies were a surprise NBA story back in March. The franchise was poised for its first playoff appearance since 2017. Then COVD-19 hit.
Now, with games tipping off later this month, coach Taylor Jenkins said getting into a rhythm quickly is crucial.
“I definitely think one of the biggest priorities is finding that chemistry again,” said Jenkins. “Big emphasis on playing five on five. Whether its half court, full court. It’s going to vary throughout the days in our training models that we’re going to put together.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge is the unique setup of the Orlando bubble.
“There’s not a script for that,” Jenkins said. “I think as I’ve had conversations with a lot of the guys, I think they’re spending a lot of time with their family right now kind of devising their best course of action.
This is the new reality in the sports world. From August to October, those at the resort will undergo daily testing and must remain on site.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said his players are spending time with their families now and adjusting to this Orlando setup will be challenging both on and off the court.
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“So many hours are going to be spent outside the gym in a bubble there, the resorts in Orlando. But also what are we doing with the families? I think the Grizzlies have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out how are we going to help our players and our staff’s families while we’re gone.
The Grizzlies will officially begin this next phase of the 2020 season July 31 against the Portland Trailblazers. Jenkins said the team’s belief in what they’ve built so far will determine if they can hold onto the final playoff spot.
“We need to have confidence in our style of play,” Jenkins said. “We need to have confidence in our teammates and our chemistry that we’ve been building.”
The Grizzlies will head to Orlando Wednesday. Each team will have three scrimmages to get ready for the re-start. Those run from July 22-28.
The league has started mandatory testing every other day before teams head to Orlando, 25 players have tested positive for COVID-19
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