The NBA and the NBPA officially announced their finalized plans for the resumption of the 2019-20 season, which will begin on July 30 in Orlando with 22 of the 30 teams participating. On Friday, the league officially revealed its schedule for the remainder of the season.
As far as the structure of the schedule goes, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the following notes:
- There will be a maximum of seven games per day.
- Tip-offs will range from noon ET to 9 p.m. ET.
- There are three total courts. Two of them are set up for nationally televised games.
The top eight teams in each conference were selected along with six teams (five in the Western Conference, one in the Eastern Conference) that were within six games of the eighth seed in their respected conference when the season was suspended on March 11. All of the teams will play eight "seeding games" starting on July 30, then begin a typical playoff format that will culminate in October. Should the No. 9 seed in either conference finish within four games of the No. 8 seed, that would trigger a play-in scenario in which the No. 9 team would have to beat the No. 8 team twice in a row to steal their playoff spot.
Such a play-in scenario would take place on Aug. 15 and 16, with the playoffs beginning on Aug. 17. Before we reach that point, though, there are hundreds of seeding games to work through. It all starts on July 30, when the New Orleans Pelicans battle the Utah Jazz and the two Los Angeles juggernauts duke it out in the fourth round of this season's Lakers-Clippers slugfest.
Six games will follow on July 31, with Grizzlies vs. Blazers, Celtics vs. Bucks and Mavericks vs. Rockets all appearing on national television. Fortunately for basketball fans desperate to dive back into the sport, there will be no shortage of nationally televised games in Orlando, which can be found here.
Something that needs to be noted about this schedule is how different it is from what would have played out on the court had the coronavirus not suspended the season. With eight teams now done for the season, the league had to construct a new schedule that still managed to incorporate what teams already had in front of them. The result is a schedule with quite a bit of disparity in terms of difficulty. The following teams will have the easiest road in front of them based on opponent's winning percentage:
Others, meanwhile, will have to navigate extremely difficult schedules. These six teams have the hardest eight-game stretches in Orlando.
Nobody ever said winning an NBA championship would be easy, but this season presents a completely unique set of circumstances. Winning in Orlando will be unlike anything any of these teams have ever achieved before. This schedule is only the beginning.