The NBA unveiled its schedule for the second half of the regular season live on ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday afternoon, laying out how it plans to have all 30 teams play 72 games despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBA released only its first-half schedule in early December, allowing it flexibility to adapt as the pandemic inevitably wreaked havoc in its attempts to play outside the safe confines of a bubble like the one that ended the season. league last season. To keep things as fair as possible, each team was scheduled to play 37 or 38 games during the 73 days that the first half was scheduled.
However, due to the pandemic and the ongoing problems it has caused for some teams, there is no such fairness in the second half schedule. It is not a coincidence, for example, that the four teams that will play the first night back: the Washington Wizards, who will be in Memphis to face the Grizzlies, and the San Antonio Spurs, who will travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks. – All have been significantly affected by COVID-19 in the first half of the season.
The Spurs and Grizzlies have the most games to play, and each has to put in 40 games in a 68-day stretch of the calendar. At the other end of the spectrum are the LA Clippers, who will only have 34 games to play in a 67-day period.
While the NBA’s goal is for all teams to play their 72 scheduled games, sources said the league is aware of the fact that all 30 teams may not reach that number. There is limited flexibility within the schedule to add games or to add dates to the schedule, as the NBA wants the playoffs to be completed on time before the Olympics are scheduled to start in late July.
As a result, the schedule for the second half will conclude on Sunday, May 16, establishing an entry tournament from May 18 to 21, which will feature teams finishing seventh through tenth in the East and West conferences playing for both. last playoff spots on either side of the bracket.
In the opening games of the tournament, the seventh seed will host the eighth seed in each conference, with the winner of the game from each conference earning a playoff spot. The losers of those early games will host the ninth or 10th seed in their respective conference, depending on which of the lower seeded wins the games played between those two teams, for second place in the playoffs.
The NBA playoffs will begin on Saturday, May 22.
There will be five ABC games during the second half of the calendar, all featuring standout matchups from the best teams in the league. Those are:
* The Clippers welcome their co-tenants from the Staples Center, Los Angeles Lakers, on April 4.
* The Lakers travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets on April 10.
* Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors travel to Boston to play the Celtics on April 17.
* The Lakers will play Luka Doncic and the Mavericks in Dallas on April 24.
* And the Nets go to Milwaukee to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on May 2.
As with the first-half schedule, the NBA has resumed the use of baseball-style programming in the second half, with teams playing two games in one city against the same opponent to minimize travel when possible. A prominent example of that is the league-leading Utah Jazz, which plays in Los Angeles against the Lakers on Saturday, April 17 and Monday, April 19, with both games on ESPN.
After opening night of two games with the Wizards-Grizzlies and Spurs-Mavericks, the latter on NBA TV, TNT opens the second half of the season on Thursday, March 11, with the Celtics playing the Nets in Brooklyn and the Clippers. . hosting the Warriors.
ESPN’s opening broadcast of the second-half schedule has the Clippers traveling to New Orleans to face new All-Star Zion Williamson and the Pelicans on Sunday, March 14, followed by the surprising New York Knicks going to Brooklyn and They play the Nets. and the Lakers travel to San Francisco to play the Warriors the following night.