Unlike normal years, the regular season schedule will be published in two segments. The first of these will come at the start of training camp.
The first part of the schedule will be available around the start of training camps and will cover December 22 to March 4.
The All-Star hiatus is then scheduled to take place March 5-10, between the first and second half of the regular season.
The second part of the calendar will be released towards the end of the first part, although an exact date has not been specified yet. It will run from March 11 to May 16 and will include the remaining games of each team’s 72-game schedule, as well as those that have been postponed and can reasonably be added.
At the end of the second part of the program, the play-in tournament will take place. It should take place from May 18 to 21. The tournament will include the teams with the seventh to tenth highest winning percentages in each conference.
How will the play-in tournament work?
At the end of the regular season, the play-in tournament will begin.
In order to secure their postseason place, the teams with the seventh and eighth highest winning percentages will each have two chances to win a game.
The teams with the ninth and tenth highest winning percentages will each need to win back-to-back games to earn a postseason berth.
The team with the seventh highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth highest winning percentage in its conference. To take as an example the final standings of the regular season of last season: in the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets (seventh) and Orlando Magic (eighth) will face each other. The winner of this play-in match in the 2020-21 season will be considered the seventh seed in the playoff conference.
The team with the ninth highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the tenth highest winning percentage in its conference. Using last season’s Eastern Conference regular season standings as an example once again: The Charlotte Hornets (ninth) and Washington Wizards (10th) would face each other.
The loser of this match is eliminated from the postseason dispute. The winner then plays the loser of the match between the seventh and eighth highest winning percentages. Whoever wins this match qualifies for the postseason as the No. 8 seed.
A hypothetical Eastern Conference play-in tournament using last season’s leaderboard could then look like this when all is said and done:
• The Nets beat the Magic, so the Nets make the playoffs as a No. 7 seed.
• The Hornets beat the Wizards, so the Wizards are eliminated from playoff contention.
• The Magic plays the Hornets, and the winner becomes the # 8 seed.
How will the season be structured?
Each team is currently scheduled to play three matches against each intra-conference opponent, for a total of 42 matches per team. In these three-game sets, teams will always play at least one home game and one road game, with the ratio randomly assigned by the league.
Within each team’s division, the NBA will randomly assign which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road.
The five teams from one division will face the five teams from another intra-conference division twice at home and face the five remaining intra-conference teams twice on the road.
Teams will play a total of two matches against each interconference opponent, for a total of 30 matches per team. These pairings will include a home game and a road game.
What does the full schedule look like right now?
December 11-19, 2020: pre-season games
December 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: first half of the regular season
5-10 mars 2021: pause All-Star
March 11 – May 16, 2021: second half of the regular season
18-21 mai 2021: Tournoi Play-in
May 22 – July 22, 2021: NBA 2021 playoffs