After the NBA's Board of Governors approved a 22-team competitive format to restart the 2019-20 season with a tentative start date of August 1, the league took its first official step (of many) towards resuming its regular season.
This is obviously the biggest news with regards to the league since the season was suspended on March 12 due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season tipping-off is the headline of a story that includes a lot of other details.
MORE: Press release on Board of Governors decision
What about the domino effects on the rest of the key events that surround the season? How do teams qualify for the playoffs? What is the format for the playoffs? What about the medical guidelines? What about the NBA Draft?
For the answers to those questions and more, here's everything you need to know about the season restart in Orlando, Florida.
Who, When and Where?
As per the format approved by the Board of Governors, the 22 teams that will make the trip to Orlando will include the 16 teams currently in the playoff picture and the six teams that are within six games or fewer of the eighth seed in either conference. That means that of the six teams fighting for a playoff spot, five will come from the Western Conference.
As per the standings from when the season was suspended, the 22 teams are:
|Western Conference||Eastern Conference|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Los Angeles Clippers||Toronto Raptors|
|Denver Nuggets||Boston Celtics|
|Utah Jazz||Miami Heat|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Indiana Pacers|
|Houston Rockets||Philadelphia 76ers|
|Dallas Mavericks||Brooklyn Nets|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Orlando Magic|
|Portland Trail Blazers||Washington Wizards|
|New Orleans Pelicans|
|San Antonio Spurs|
The tentative date for the season to resume for these 22 teams is August 1. The NBA Finals will tentatively end no later than October 13.
The Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando will serve as a single site for practices, games and housing for the remainder of the season.
Seeding games and schedule
Each of these 22 teams will play eight seeding games that will help decide the matchups for the playoffs.
The total number of games played by each team will vary based on the number of games the teams had played prior to the season's suspension. The Dallas Mavericks will finish with the most games played at 75, for example, whereas the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers will play the least at 71.
Play-in tournament & playoff format
At the end of the seeding games, the top seven teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs with the usual tie-breaker rules in place. For the eighth and final spot, there exists the possibility of a play-in tournament.
If the team in the eighth spot in either conference holds a lead of more than four games, then the final playoff spot will go to them. However, if the lead is fewer than four games, then the team in eighth and the team in the ninth will participate in a play-in tournament. The team in eighth will need to defeat the team in ninth once and the team in ninth will need to defeat the team in eighth twice in a row to qualify for the playoffs.
Once all 16 teams are finalized, the playoffs will begin under the traditional format - four rounds of best-of-seven series.
If the season's tentative tip-off date sticks, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is rescheduled for August 26, the 2020 NBA Draft is set for October 16 and the 2020-21 regular season will likely begin on December 2, 2020.
However, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has expressed concern of the NBA starting so soon following the conclusion of this season, so there's a chance the 2020-21 regular season start date will change.
For the NBA Draft Lottery, the 14 teams will include the eight teams that will not participate in the season's restart and the six that do participate in the restart but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams will be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through March 12.
The 16 playoff teams will draft in the inverse orders of their combined records across the regular season and the seeding games.
The NBA Board of Governors approved changes to the lottery system on September 28, 2017. Under the revamped format, the NBA Draft Lottery will ensure that the team with the worst record will receive no worse than the fifth pick. Under the pre-2019 system, the team with the worst record would pick no lower than fourth.
The new system will level the odds at the top of the NBA Draft Lottery so that the teams with the three worst regular-season records will each have a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. In the pre-2019 structure, the top seed had a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery, the second seed had a 19.9 percent and the third seed had a 15.6 percent.
A rigorous program will be established by the NBA and the NBPA, both of whom are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19.
A program that includes a regular testing protocol and strict safety practices.
More tentative details, such as when training camps open and free agency begins, are forthcoming. This article will be updated accordingly.
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