NBA schedule to be released in two sections; includes play-in tourney

The NBA on Tuesday released several details about the 2020-21 season and its structure.

It will be released in two segments, as Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk had previously mentioned, and will involve a play-in tournament to determine the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences, which could potentially help teams on the cusp.

The first half of the schedule will be released around the start of training camp (that date is rumored to be Dec. 1), and the second half will be released toward the end of the first half. The second half schedule will include games that may have been postponed during the first half, or games that can be “reasonably added to the second half schedule,” according to a press release from the league (the thought being some games may not be able to be played as scheduled if players are out with the coronavirus).

In the 72-game season, teams will play three games against each intraconference opponent, “with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games,” according to a press release. 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.”

Also, “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," according to the release. “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.”

So, the Hawks will play one home game and one away game vs. Western Conference teams.

The Board of Governors also unanimously approved a play-in tournament on a one-year basis, which will involve the teams from each conference with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest win percentages.

Essentially, after the second half of the regular season ends, the No. 7 team will host the No. 8 team in a play-in game and that winner will become the No. 7 seed. The No. 9 team will host the No. 10 team, and the loser of the No. 7-No. 8 game will host the winner of the No. 9-No. 10 game, with the winner of that game becoming the No. 8 seed.

Here are some tentative dates for the 2020-21 season, as detailed by the league:

  • Dec. 11-19, 2020: preseason games
  • Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: first half of the regular season
  • March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break
  • March 11 – May 16, 2021: second half of the regular season
  • May 18-21, 2021: play-in tournament
  • May 22 – July 22, 2021: Playoffs

About the Author