The NBA announced on Tuesday the structure and format for the 2020-21 season, which will include a Play-In Tournament to determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.
With the regular season starting on Tuesday, December 22nd, just two-months after the completion of the NBA Finals, the league has made extensive changes to accommodate this unconventional COVID year.
Regular Season Breakdown
The 2020-21 season will feature 72 games for each team. The opponent breakdown for the regular season is described below:
- Each team will play three games against each intraconference opponent (42 total games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games. Within each team’s division, the league office has randomly assigned which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road.
- All five teams from within a division will play all five teams from one other intraconference division twice at home, and all five teams from the remaining intraconference division twice on the road.
- Each team will play two games against each interconference opponent (30 total games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.
Play-In Tournament Details
The Play-In Tournament in the Orlando bubble was met with huge fanfare and excitement so now the NBA is testing the idea again. The Board of Governors unanimously approved a proposal to implement a playoff Play-In Tournament on a one-year basis for the 2020-21 season.
The Play-In Tournament, which will take place after the regular season and before the first round of the playoffs, will include the teams with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference.
The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the ninth-highest and tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will be the seventh seed in the playoffs for its conference.
The team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Nine-Ten Game”). The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the playoffs for its conference.
New schedule release format
Among the other changes to the NBA’s format is that the 2020-21 regular-season schedule is being released in two segments. The schedule for the First Half of the season will be released around the start of training camp.
The schedule for the Second Half of the season will be released during the latter part of the First Half portion of the schedule. The Second Half schedule will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not scheduled in the First Half as well as any games postponed during the First Half that can reasonably be added to the Second Half schedule.
The All-Star break is scheduled to take place March 5-10, 2021, between the First Half and Second Half of the regular season.
Tentative full season schedule
- Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games
- Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season
- March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break
- March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season
- May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament
- May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs
It may be odd to say this in November but it’s almost time for basketball!