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NBA announces 2-part schedule release, season structure, play-in tournament

NBA announces 2-part schedule release, season structure, play-in tournament

The NBA doesn’t plan to release the first half of the 2020-21 schedule until around the start of training camp on Dec. 1, but with each passing day, additional details emerge about how the fast-approaching season will work when the league returns to action outside of a “bubble” on Dec. 22.

On Tuesday, the NBA announced information about the season’s structure and format, confirming that each team will play 72 regular-season games, with each team playing three games against each opponent in their conference (42 games per team). Each pairing will feature either two home games and one road game, or one home game and two road games, as assigned randomly by the league office.

Each team also will play two games against opponents outside their conference (30 games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.

So the Lakers and Clippers both will play each Western Conference team three times and each Eastern Conference team twice.

Against their Western Conference foes, the L.A. teams are scheduled to play two home games against the Northwest Division teams: Denver, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Portland and Utah, and one home game against teams from the Southwest Division: Dallas, Houston, Memphis, New Orleans and San Antonio.

Against their Pacific Division opponents, the Lakers will host Golden State and Phoenix twice. The Clippers will be the home team twice against the Lakers and Sacramento.

The league also made official the dates of the All-Star break – minus the All-Star Game – between March 5-10 and indicated that the second half of the regular-season schedule will be released near that midway point, as well as any postponed games that “can reasonably be added” to the rest of the schedule.

And the NBA announced information about the playoff play-In tournament for the seventh- through 10th-seeded teams, approved on a one-year basis. That’s set to be played between May 18-21.

The teams with the seventh- and eighth-highest winning percentages will have two chances to make the playoffs while the teams with the ninth- and 10th-highest winning percentages will have one chance.

This time, the team with the seventh-best record in each conference will host No. 8 in one game. The winner secures the No. 7 seed, while the loser hosts the winner of a game between No. 9 and No. 10. The winner of that game gets the final playoff spot.

The league debuted the play-in tournament this summer at Walt Disney World, though it only featured the Nos. 8-9 teams in the Western Conference. Portland knocked out Memphis to earn the final seed in the playoffs.

The NBA Finals are set to run through July 22. With the Summer Olympics set to begin July 23 in Tokyo – and the qualifying tournaments for the remaining four spots in the men’s field scheduled to run from June 29 to July 4 – that almost certainly eliminates a number of players from considering participating in the Olympics.

If all goes according to plan, preseason games will be played from Dec. 11-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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