NBA's 2020-21 season to include play-in tournament, unique schedule


The NBA on Tuesday unveiled the structure and format for the 2020-21 season, which is set to begin Dec. 22 and have a 72-game schedule.

Among the most notable elements of the unique structure is a play-in tournament that will determine the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

In addition, the 2020-21 regular-season schedule will be released in two segments. The schedule for the first half of the campaign will be released around the start of training camp, and the second-half schedule will be released toward the end of the first half of the season.

More important details about the 2020-21 season, per the NBA's press release:

  • Each team will play three games against each intraconference opponent 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.

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For the Boston Celtics, this format means they will travel twice to Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee, and only once to the rest of the league's cities.

The C's will host the Knicks, Raptors, Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Magic, and Wizards twice, and the rest of the teams on its schedule once.

Here is the tentative calendar of key dates for the 2020-21 season: 

  • Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games
  • Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season
  • March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break
  • March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season
  • May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament
  • May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs