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NBA’s 72-game season unfolds; playoff play-in tourney in effect

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

A BRAND-NEW season of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is upon us; a modified version to adapt to the prevailing conditions with the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike the customary season that features 82 regular season games, the 2020-21 edition of The Association will have a 72-game slate for each team. A playoff play-in tournament to determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference will also be implemented.

As per the structure and format for the about-to-start season of the NBA shared to members of the media, each team will play three games against each opponent in its conference (42 total games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games. Within each team’s division, the league office has randomly assigned which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road.  

All five teams from within a division will play all five teams from one other intraconference division twice at home, and all five teams from the remaining intraconference division twice on the road.

Each team will play two games against each opponent in the other conference (30 total games per team), with each pairing featuring one home game and one road game.

The 2020-21 regular-season schedule is being released in two segments. The schedule for the first half of the season was released on Dec. 4. The schedule for the second half of the season will be released during the latter part of the first half portion of the schedule.

The All-Star break is scheduled to take place on March 5-10, 2021, between the first half and second half of the regular season.

Meanwhile, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved a proposal to implement a playoff play-in tournament on a one-year basis for this season.

Initially applied in the successful NBA “bubble” in Orlando, Florida, last season, the play-in tournament expands the league playoffs as it will be determining the teams which will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

It will take place after the regular season and before the first round of the playoffs and will include the teams with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference.

The teams with the seventh-highest and eighth-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The teams with the ninth-highest and 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot.

At the conclusion of the regular season, the team with the seventh-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Seven-Eight Game”). The winner of the Seven-Eight Game in each conference will be the seventh seed in the playoffs for its conference.

The team with the ninth-highest winning percentage in each conference will host the team with the 10th-highest winning percentage in its conference in a Play-In Game (the “Nine-Ten Game”). The loser of the Seven-Eight Game will host the winner of the Nine-Ten Game in a Play-In Game, and the winner of that game will be the eighth seed in the playoffs for its conference.

The NBA saw its 2019-20 hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but the league survived it, holding a bubble tournament beginning in July till October with the Los Angeles (LA) Lakers emerging as champions.

In the Philippines, NBA games are broadcast over Cignal TV – Channel 96 SD and Channel 262 HD.

The season-opener between the defending champs Lakers and cross-town rivals LA Clippers will be available on Wednesday at 11 a.m. with replay at 8 p.m.

On Dec. 24, it will be the New Orleans Pelicans versus the Toronto Raptors at 8:30 a.m., Utah Jazz against the Portland Trail Blazers at 11 a.m., and Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Boston Celtics (delayed telecast) at 1:30 p.m.

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