During the modified regular season, each team will play 42 conference games — three each against 14 opponents — rather than 52 conference games during a typical 82-game season. Each team will still play 30 nonconference games, playing each opponent once at home and once on the road.
For the conference games, all five teams within a division will get two home games against all five teams from another division within their conference and one home game against all five teams in the conference’s other division. For example, the Washington Wizards and the four other Southeast Division teams will each get two home games and one road game against every Central Division team. Each Southeast Division team will also play one home game and two road games against every Atlantic Division team.
The NBA plans to release its game-by-game schedule in two parts to account for the possibility of matchups delayed by coronavirus issues. The first half of the schedule will be released around Dec. 1. The second half will be announced shortly before the all-star break.
The NBA’s play-in tournament will be a one-year test, expanding on a concept staged in the bubble used to complete the 2019-20 season. At Disney World, the NBA hosted a play-in round featuring the eighth and ninth seeds that generated significant interest because of the Western Conference’s tight playoff race. The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in that round to claim the final playoff spot and a first-round date with LeBron James and the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
This season, the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th seeds in each conference will be entered into play-in tournaments. In each conference, the seventh seed will play the eighth seed, with the winner claiming the seventh seed. The ninth seed will play the 10th seed, with the loser eliminated. The loser of the seventh-vs.-eighth game will play the winner of the ninth-vs.-10th game. That winner will advance to the playoffs as the eighth seed; the loser will be eliminated.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association previously reached an agreement on the financial terms governing the season, setting the salary cap at $109.1 million and the luxury tax line at $132.6 million. Commissioner Adam Silver has yet to unveil updated health and safety protocols.