NBA approves 22-team format to restart season from July 31
The boards approval is the first formal step
The NBA Board of Governors have approved a competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play and a tentative start date of July 31. The boards approval is the first formal step among many required to resume the season which has been suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the competitive format that the NBA Board of Governors have approved, the 22 returning teams would be the 16 teams (eight per conference) in current playoff positions and the six teams that are currently six games or fewer behind the eighth seed in their respective conferences.
The season restart would begin with eight "seeding games" for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.
Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round. The NBA Finals would end no later than October 12, said NBA in a media statement.
The 22 returning teams for the season restart would be the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards from the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns from the Western Conference.
Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.
If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.
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