The National Basketball Association season that almost never was is about to head into the home stretch, i.e. the playoffs.
The league’s so-called second season begins Saturday following a compacted 66-game regular season that didn’t start until Christmas Day, about two months later than usual due to a 149-day labor dispute. The team owners emerged from negotiations with new restrictions on payrolls and contracts that will put $3 billion into their coffers over the next 10 years.
With the final regular-season games scheduled tonight and Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks, who won the franchise’s first NBA championship last season, are assured of defending their title, but they will enter the playoffs with only about the 12th-best record in the league.
Here are some additional table-setting facts:
Boston Celtics, 17
Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers, 16
Chicago Bulls, 6
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