The NBA’s Board of Governors met Thursday to approve the 22-team return-to-play plan that will take place at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While there are still some other details that need to be finalized, the vote passing a big step towards basketball coming back.
The plan involves the 16 current playoff teams as well as six teams that are within six games of the eighth seed. Thirteen teams in the Western Conference will be heading to Orlando, while just nine Eastern Conference teams will.
As it stands, the NBA is hopeful to resume play on July 31, with the last possible date for the 2020 Finals being Game 7 on Oct. 12. With eight regular-season games and a full playoff slate needing to be held, having about two and a half months to do it may be tough.
However, the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver seem to have a framework in place that will allow for all these games to take place without overworking the players, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
The regular season will extend 16 days, with five to six games per day. There will be four hours between games on each individual court to accommodate overtimes, cleanings and warm-ups.
The league will be using three courts in the complex for games. In the eight-game regular-season format, each team is expected to play one back-to-back.
The NBA is expected to be aggressive in moving up the dates to start playoff series when the previous round’s series come to an end. The NBA Finals format is expected to include games every other day.
Under this plan, everything should be able to fit in the two and a half month time period. If the regular season starts on July 31 and spans 16 days, that means the final standings would be set on Aug. 15.
From that point, the play-in tournament could be done on Aug. 16 and 17, with off days being given to the teams who have already cemented their spots. The 2020 Playoffs would theoretically begin on Aug. 18.
Without the need for travel, it will be rare to see a team have two full days off in between games. Games will likely happen every other day the way they do normally when the location doesn’t change between games.
If games are played every other day, finishing the season by Oct. 12 could actually be doable. Then, the NBA can continue with their initial hope to start the 2020-21 season by Dec. 1.