The NBA Season Resumes On July 31

Friday, June 5, 2020

The NBA took a major step toward getting back on the court Thursday, with the league's Board of Governors approving a 22-team format for restarting the league season next month at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.

The vote was 29-1, with Portland casting the dissenting vote, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league did not publicly release voting details. The National Basketball Players Association has scheduled a meeting for Friday to vote on the plan.

Teams would arrive at Disney around July 7 and play an eight-game slate of games starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex. All teams will stay, practice and play at Disney and the NBA Finals - which would have started Thursday if not for the coronavirus pandemic that caused the NBA to suspend its season on March 11 - will likely stretch into October.

The eight-game slate - it's unclear if they will be classified as regular season games - will help determine playoff seeding. From there, the league could have a play-in tournament for the final spot in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference postseason fields.

While working to finish this season, the league also has made decisions on next season - with the draft lottery rescheduled for August 25, the draft on October 15 and opening night for the 2020-21 campaign is tentatively set for December 1. The G League also announced Thursday that it canceled the remainder of this season.

But one of the biggest hurdles is now cleared, in an NBA season like none other. The league is planning for the same playoff rules as usual, that being every round utilizing a best-of-seven format.

The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a berth.

Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston and reigning NBA champion Toronto had already clinched playoff berths. Now with only eight games remaining for each team, it means that eight other clubs - Miami, Indiana, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Utah, Oklahoma City and Houston - have postseason spots secured, and Dallas virtually has one as well.

That leaves nine teams vying for three remaining playoff berths. In the East, Brooklyn, Orlando and Washington are in the race for two spots. In the West, Memphis, Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Phoenix will jostle for one spot.

If the gap between eighth place and ninth place in either conference is four games or less when the eight-game slate ends, those teams will play off for the No. 8 seed. The team in ninth place would have to go 2-0 in a two-game series to advance.

The NBA season officially resumes on July 31.

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