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Last Updated: June 9, 2020

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NBA Board of Governors Approved the 22 Team Return to Play Format


On Thursday, June 4th, 2020 the NBA board of governors voted on and approved the National Basketball Association’s proposal for the 22 team return to play plan. The vote was 29 in favor of the proposed format and 1 against it coming from the Portland Trail Blazers representative. This is the first essential formal step of the process in order for the 2019 – 2020 NBA season to resume and eventually be completed. Now there are several other steps necessary prior to professional basketball commencing in the United States of America.

The next part of the process for the 2019 – 2020 NBA season to restart involves the National Basketball Association (NBA) working with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) must come to terms on the details of how the remainder of the season will operate. The players need to approve the 22 team return to play proposal as well. Both the NBA and the NBPA are working with government officials, infectious disease specialists, and public health experts to determine a thorough program to counteract and mitigate the risks related to COVID - 19, such as a regular testing procedure and rigorous safety practices to protect the health of everyone involved.

“The Board’s approval of the restart format is a necessary step toward resuming the NBA season,” the commissioner of the National Basketball Association Adam Silver said. “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts. We also recognize that as we prepare to resume play, our society is reeling from recent tragedies of racial violence and injustice, and we will continue to work closely with our teams and players to use our collective resources and influence to address these issues in very real and concrete ways.”

When and Where the NBA Would Resume

According to the proposed format that was recently approved by the NBA’s board of governors the 2019 – 2020 NBA season restart would begin on Friday, July 31st, 2020 and it would finish no later than Monday, October 12th, 2020 which would be the day of game 7 of the 2020 NBA Finals. All of the games would be played near Orlando, Florida.

The plan is also contingent upon an agreement with The Walt Disney Company enabling the NBA to use the Walt Disney World Resort close to Orlando, Florida. This would be the one and only site for a campus where the games would be played, practices would be held, and housing for the all involved for the rest of the NBA season.

22 Teams Included in the Proposal

The 22 teams included in the current return to play format includes the top 8 teams with the best record in both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference as well as 6 additional teams that are 6 games or less behind the 8th seed in their respective conferences. Teams such as the Chicago Bulls would be excluded from the rest of the 2019 – 2020 NBA season. These two groups of teams represent the 22 best records in the NBA prior to the work stoppage in March of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22 teams as of now are the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles 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 and Phoenix Suns. All of the 22 teams that are included in the return to play proposal are listed below with their records, team roster, and statistics.

Terms and Conditions for the NBA Restart

“The season restart would begin with eight “seeding games” for each returning team and include the possibility of a play-in tournament for the eighth and final playoff seed in each conference depending on combined records across regular-season games and seeding games. Once the 16-team playoff field is set, the NBA Playoffs would proceed in a traditional conference-based format with four rounds and best-of-seven series in each round.”

“Each returning team would play eight seeding games, as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups. At the conclusion of the seeding games, the seven teams in each conference with the best combined records across regular-season games and seeding games would qualify for the playoffs.”

“If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference is more than four games ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference, then the team with the eighth-best record would earn the eighth playoff seed.”

“If the team with the eighth-best combined record in its conference (Team A) is four games or fewer ahead of the team with the ninth-best combined record in the same conference (Team B), then Teams A and B would compete in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed. To earn the eighth playoff seed, Team A would need to defeat Team B once and Team B would need to defeat Team A two games in a row.”

“The 2019-20 season would conclude with a traditional playoff format with best-of-seven series in the first round, conference semifinals, conference finals and the NBA Finals.”

The 2020 NBA Draft

The 2020 NBA draft will be held on Thursday, October 15th, 2020 as long as the season resumed on Friday, July 31st, 2020. The lottery for this draft would happen on Tuesday, August 25th, 2020. The 2020 – 2021 NBA regular season would then be scheduled to begin on Tuesday, December 1st, 2020.


“NBA Board of Governors approves competitive format to restart 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play”,, June 4, 2020.

“NBA Standings: Season 2019 – 2020”,, June 4, 2020.

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