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.
On June 26, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association finalized 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.
* * *
Q: When does the 2019-20 season comeback begin and end?
July 30 is the start date. The Finals will end no later than Oct. 13.
Q: Which teams will be playing?
A total of 22 teams will return to play this season.
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Miami Heat
- Indiana Pacers
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Brooklyn Nets
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
- 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
Q: 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.
Q: Will there be scrimmage games?
Yes. Teams will compete in three inter-squad scrimmages from July 22-28 in final preparation for the resumption of the season.
Q: 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.
Q: 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 COVID-19 health protocols.
Q: 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 COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.
Q: What are the dates for the playoffs?
The first round begins August 17. The conference semifinals begin August 31. The conference finals begin September 15. The NBA Finals begin September 30.
Q: 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).
Q: How will playoff seeding work?
The seven teams in each conference with the best records (regular-season games + 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.
Q: 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 + seeding games).
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 matchups to take over the No. 8 spot.
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 semifinals, conference finals and The Finals.
Q: 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.
Q: When is the NBA Draft?
October 16. The Early Entry deadline will be Aug. 17 and the Early Entry withdrawal deadline will be Oct. 6.
Q. When is the 2020-21 free agency period?
Teams and free agents can begin negotiating at 6 p.m. ET on Oct. 18, which is six hours before the annual moratorium. The moratorium will begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Oct. 19 and continue through noon on Oct. 23.
The 2020-21 NBA regular season will likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.