In a report by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press from inside the bubble, it appears that the NBA is going to reduce game time of the first exhibition game for every team inside the bubble, moving from standard 12 minute quarters to 10 minute quarters. The move will reduce overall game time from 48 minutes to 40 and reduce the strain on NBA players and coaches hoping to ease back into a regular basketball schedule.
Via Reynolds’ story, which can be found here:
The NBA is tweaking the rules for those initial matchups, going with 10-minute quarters instead of the usual 12 minutes. The change is for several reasons — among them, not wanting to overly tax players’ bodies after they went more than four months without games, and because some teams do not have their full rosters at Walt Disney World yet because of coronavirus and other issues.
Most NBA teams are feeling a similar strain that Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has felt about not having the full roster to practice in the bubble. For the Nuggets, practices have involved unique combinations of players lining up together, including 6’9 power forward Jerami Grant and 7’2 center Bol Bol each spending some time at shooting guard. While the bubble environment may force some coaches into unique circumstances, playing Grant or Bol at shooting guard is perhaps the last possible situation Malone expects to arise in a playoff series.
Reducing the overall game time in the opening scrimmages will offer some additional relief for a Nuggets squad that is reportedly missing point guard Monte Morris, shooting guard Gary Harris, forward Michael Porter Jr., and wing Torrey Craig. PJ Dozier, Vlatko Čančar, and Keita Bates-Diop also appear to not be in the bubble. It’s unlikely that any of those players returns to practice and is ready to play in the opening scrimmage, which means the Nuggets will have 10 players available and only three guards/wings (Jamal Murray, Will Barton, and Troy Daniels) for an entire game.
When Michael Malone uses this rotation in Denver's scrimmage on Wednesday, I would like a postgame shoutout. pic.twitter.com/6bE6f6OG6L— Ryan Blackburn (@NBABlackburn) July 17, 2020
In addition, the other seven Nuggets players that are definitely in Orlando are all power forwards and centers. While Nikola Jokic, Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee are all in the regular rotation, Noah Vonleh is not. Tyler Cook spent some time with the Nuggets in summer league before spending most of his time with the G-League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bol Bol has been making an impression in practices, but he has yet to play an NBA minute, and his last sanctioned game time was on December 14th in 27 minutes of G-League play.
All of this to say, the Nuggets don’t have the ability to construct a legitimate rotation with so many players outside of the bubble. They will be forced to get creative, but Michael Malone is probably thankful that he will be getting creative for 40 minutes instead of 48.