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NBA announces structure of 2020/21 season

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has finalised the competitive structure for the upcoming season, set to begin on December 22.

The announcement follows the economic agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).

The 2020/21 season will see every team play 42 intraconference games and 30 interconference games. Away from normal practice, the regular season will be released into two segments, with the first half expected to be released at the beginning of December, at the same time as the teams will begin their training camps ahead of the opening fixtures.

The second half of the schedule is due to be released in February, towards the end of the first set of fixtures to allow time for rescheduled games to go ahead.

Following this, the All-Star game, that occurs during a break in the season, will be held between March 5-21. It was unknown for a while whether the fixture would be allowed to go ahead as officials viewed the break as an opportunity for rescheduled games to take place. The playoffs will then commence from May 22 and conclude no later than July 22, just a day before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics begin, meaning some players may not be able to compete in the Games.

As part of the finalisation of the structure, the Play-In Tournament, which was only confirmed this week by the Board of Governors, has also been scheduled in for between May 18-21. Play-in games were played during the conclusion of the 2019/20 season in Florida, which includes a mini-tournament for teams seeded seventh to tenth in each conference playing for the final two postseason slots for the respective conferences. It is the first time this tournament will be held.

The announcement of the schedule will excite local NBA fans whose teams can now begin the process of planning for their eventual return into the venues, something that is expected to differ between teams in differing parts of the US where regulations are based locally.

Certain teams, notably the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves, have already stated that fans will not able to attend games until further notice. On the other hand, the Golden State Warriors are looking at possible measures to enable fan attendance as soon as possible, with rapid virus testing one of the proposals being considered.

Last month, the it was reported that the NBA had suffered a 10 per cent drop in revenue to US$8.3 billion due to the COVID-19 crisis. Ticket sales had accounted for as much as US$800 million of the overall losses, according to the report from ESPN.

Author: Jake Wilkin