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NBA 2019-20 season restart: Everything you need to know

Clear answers to questions about play-in tournament, new dates and more

LeBron James performs lunges at a Lakers practice in Orlando
Image: LeBron James performs lunges at a Lakers practice in Orlando

With 22 teams now housed in the NBA bubble and the season set to restart on July 30, how will the revised 2019-20 season unfold?

The NBA is back on Sky Sports

The NBA is back on Sky Sports

What games can you watch live on Sky Sports when the NBA season resumes on July 30?

The 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic. On June 4, the NBA's Board of Governors approved a competitive format for the comeback of the 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play and a start date of July 30.

preview image 1:18
Take a look at around the NBA campus in Orlando ahead of the season restart on July 30

On June 26, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) finalised a comprehensive plan for a July 30 restart to the 2019-20 season, which includes stringent health and safety protocols, a single-site campus at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the goal of taking collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice.

In anticipation of the comeback of the NBA, here are some common questions and answers about the season comeback for 2019-20.

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Jaydee Dyer takes us through how the format will look in Florida as the NBA returns

When does the 2019-20 season comeback begin and end?

July 30 is the start date. The Finals will end no later than October 13.

Which teams will be playing?

A total of 22 teams will return to play this season, nine from the Eastern Conference, 13 from the Western Conference.

Eastern Conference teams: Milwaukee Bucks; Toronto Raptors; Boston Celtics; Miami Heat; Indiana Pacers; Philadelphia 76ers; Brooklyn Nets; Orlando Magic; Washington Wizards.

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Western Conference teams: 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; Phoenix Suns.

What are seeding games?

The eight remaining games each returning team will play before the playoffs begin. The games were selected from a team's remaining regular-season matchups.

Will there be scrimmage/warm-up games?

Yes. Teams will compete in three inter-squad scrimmages from July 22-28 in final preparation for the resumption of the season.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver poses with Mickey Mouse - credit NBA.com
Image: NBA commissioner Adam Silver poses with Mickey Mouse - credit NBA.com

Where will games be played?

The NBA and Disney reached an agreement to have games played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. The venues for all games will be inside the Arena, Field House and Visa Athletic Center.

Will fans be in attendance?

There will be no live audience or tickets available for the remaining 2019-20 season restart games through the NBA Finals due to coronavirus health protocols.

What are the NBA's medical protocols?

The NBA has worked closely with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to coronavirus, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.

What's happening inside the NBA bubble?

What's happening inside the NBA bubble?

Stay up to date with what the players are up to on and off the court

What are the dates for the playoffs?

The first round begins on August 17. The conference semi-finals begin on August 31. The Conference Finals begin on September 15. The NBA Finals begin on September 30.

How many total games will each team in the 22-team field have played before the playoffs begin?

It varies by team, but most of the 22 teams will play 72 or 73 games after the eight 'seeding games' are added to their regular-season game total. The Dallas Mavericks will have played the most total games (75) and the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers will have played the least (71).

Magic Johnson encourages NBA fans to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus 1:17
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson said restarting the NBA season will not distract from or hinder the global Black Lives Matter movement

How will playoff seeding work?

The seven teams in each conference with the best records (regular-season games plus seeding games) will have clinched a playoff spot. The usual tie-breaker scenarios will be in place for those seeds. The eighth seed could potentially come down to a play-in tournament.

How will the play-in tournament work?

If the team with the eighth-best record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, no play-in tournament will be necessary. The final playoff berth will simply go to the team with the eighth-best record (regular-season games plus seeding games).

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But if the team with the eighth-best record in its conference is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best record in the same conference, then we'll have a battle for the final spot between those two teams.

The tournament will basically be a best-of-two series -- where the No 9 seed will have to win two head-to-head match-ups to take over the No 8 spot.

Current NBA standings | NBA playoff picture & tie-breaker scenarios

Will the playoff format be any different?

It will be the same. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA playoffs will proceed in a traditional conference-based format featuring the usual best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semi-finals, Conference Finals and The Finals.

When is the NBA Draft Lottery?

August 25.
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How will lottery teams be determined?

The 14 lottery teams will be the eight teams that do not participate in the comeback and the six teams that participate in the comeback but do not qualify for the playoffs. These teams will be seeded in the lottery and assigned odds based on their records through March 11.

The 16 playoff teams will draft in inverse order of their combined records across regular-season games and seeding games.

When is the NBA Draft?

October 16. The Early Entry deadline will be August 17 and the Early Entry withdrawal deadline will be October 6.

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When is the 2020-21 free agency period?

Teams and free agents can begin negotiating at 6pm ET (11pm in the UK) on October 18, which is six hours before the annual moratorium. The moratorium will begin at 12:01 am ET (5:01am) on October 19 and continue through midday ET (5pm in the UK) on October 23.

When will the 2020-21 season start?

The 2020-21 NBA regular season will likely begin on December 1, 2020.

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