The latest on the 2020-21 NBA schedule

So it’s going to happen.The NBA will hold a 2020-2021 season and they have a schedule to prove it.

Of course it will be different; the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much happening and a quarter of the league has barely played in nine months while the Lakers and Heat finished their NBA Finals series less than two months ago. But we are excited to have it back and we hope the league and the player’s association will do everything in its power to ensure the safety of the players, staff, and their families. With that, here is what the NBA schedule will look like.

For starters, each team will play 72 games, down 10 from the regular 82-game schedule played in a normal season. The first games will be played on Dec. 22 and the last date a game can be played is July 22. Straight from the NBA official website comes the following:  

  • 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.

The league has moved forward with playoff expansion for the 2020-2021. In this set-up, teams seven through eight in each conference will be involved in the playoff Play-In Tournament. In this set-up, the teams with the seventh and eighth-best winning percentages will play against each other. The winner will be that conference’s seventh seed. At the same time, the ninth and tenth teams will play each other with the winner earning the right to play the loser of the seventh-eighth play-in game. The winner of that game will then become the eighth seed in their respective conference. 

There are several other differences compared to previous seasons. First, the NBA has only released the first-half of its schedule (or 48% of the all of the games) with the league planning to release the rest of schedule towards the end of this first tranche of games. Hopefully that happens and there are no outbreaks or anything else that may prevent that from happening. There is an All-Star break scheduled in mid-March but there is no All-Star weekend. This is presumably to allow All-Star teams to be named (which ties to player’s contract incentives) and gives the league some cushion if games need to be rescheduled. 
You can find the first half of the season’s schedule here.