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NBA

NBA 2020-21 Schedule: All you need to know from structure, format, key dates and more

With the start of the 2020-21 NBA season on Dec. 22 here's everything you need to know about the schedule, its format and key dates this season.

Schedule release(s)

The schedule for the season will be announced in two parts.

The schedule for the first half of the season will be released around the start of training camp while the schedule for the second half, will be announced towards the end of the first half of the season.

The second half of the schedule release 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.

Key dates

*as per tentative schedule announced (ET).

  • Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games
  • Dec. 22, 2020: NBA tip-off 2020
  • 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

Structure and format

The league's 2020-21 season will see each team play 72 regular-season games beginning on Dec. 22.

As per the league's official release, here are the key aspects in relation to the structuring of these 72 games:

  • 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.

Here's a look at the above breakdown for better understanding:

  • 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.

Here's a look at the breakdown of the complete schedule for each team:

Play-in tournament details

On the unanimous approval from the Board of Governors, a Playoff play-in tournament will be implemented on a one-year basis for the 2020-21 season.

Set to take place after the end of the regular season and before the start of the playoffs, this play-in tournament will include teams seeded 7-10 in each conference.

Similar to the play-in tournament in the Orlando bubble for the 2019-20 season, the two teams seeded higher (7-8) will receive two chances to earn a spot in the playoffs while the teams seeded 9-10 in each conference would need to win two consecutive games to earn their playoff spot.

At the end of the regular season, the seventh seed will host the eighth seed in a Play-in Game (the "Seven-Eight Game"). The winner of this game is confirmed as the seventh seed in their respective conference, meanwhile, the loser will play host to the winner of the "Nine-Ten Game", a Play-in Game between teams seeded ninth (host) and tenth, for the eighth and final postseason berth in their respective conferences.

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