The NBA All-Star break is rapidly approaching, and so too is the end of the first half of the 2020-21 schedule. But now, we no longer have to wonder how the rest of the season will look. On Wednesday, the NBA officially released the second half of the regular season schedule, which runs through May 16.
While the league and its players had previously agreed to play a 72-game slate, the NBA only released the first half of the schedule at the beginning of the season in order to provide itself some flexibility for any games that had to be postponed. It proved to be a smart idea, as 29 games and counting have been postponed due to teams around the league dealing with various COVID-19 related issues.
Here's a quick look at some of the key dates moving forward:
- March 5 -- March 10: All-Star break
- March 10 -- May 16: Second half of the regular season
- May 18 -- May 21: Play-in tournament
- May 22 -- July 22: Playoffs
July 22 is a pretty firm end date because the league wants the season wrapped up before the Olympics which are set to take place this summer. That means they won't have the same level of flexibility as they had in the first half, and it's not clear how they plan to adapt if games continue to be postponed due to COVID-19.
At least for now there's hope that everyone will be able to complete a 72-game schedule, but the league recognizes that might not be possible, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Should some teams fail to reach 72 games, that could create some unique problems if they are involved in the playoff picture.
Just as they did in the first half, the league is attempting to minimize travel as much as possible over the rest of the season. That means more instances of teams playing baseball-style "series."
The second half of the season will start with a double-header on March 10 featuring the Washington Wizards against the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs against the Dallas Mavericks. All four of those teams had numerous games canceled in the first half of the season.