After the NBA season along with everything else, basketball returned at the end of July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex inside in Orlando, Florida. These pro basketball games are unlike any previous year, with no fans in attendance due to requirements and a compressed schedule.shut down the
The best 22 of the league’s 30 teams are wrapping up playing eight games to finish the regular season on Friday, with 15 of the 16 teams securing their playoff tickets. One spot, however, remains unsettled: the eighth and final team in the Western Conference. A play-in tournament starting Saturday between the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will determine who gets in.
(Sorry Suns fans, going 8-0 in the bubble was great, but it wasn’t enough to make up for going 26-39 during the rest of the season.)
ABC will broadcast the Grizzlies and Blazers at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) on Saturday. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the play-in?
To make the bubble more competitive, the NBA added the possibility of a play-in tournament between the eighth and ninth seeds in each conference. While it wasn’t needed to settle things in the East, on Thursday four teams were still fighting for the chance to play in the West, with the Blazers and Grizzlies both making it through.
With the Blazers controlling the eighth seed, they have an advantage going into the tournament. If they win Saturday, Portland is the final seed and Memphis is eliminated.
If the Grizzlies win, however, a second play-in game will take place on Sunday between the two teams with the winner advancing to the playoffs to take on the Los Angeles Lakers beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
What is the TV schedule for the play-in?
- Game 1: Saturday, Aug. 15, Memphis at Portland, 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) on ABC
- Game 2, if necessary: Sunday, Aug. 16, Memphis at Portland, 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT) on ESPN
When do the regular NBA playoffs start?
The regular NBA playoffs, which follow a traditional seven-game format, will begin on Monday, Aug. 17, with the league having four games every day for at least the first week. All games will be broadcast nationally on either TNT, ESPN, ABC or NBA TV.
Here’s the schedule for Monday, with all games set to air on ESPN:
- Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets, 1:30 p.m. ET (10:30 a.m. PT)
- Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors, 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT)
- Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics, 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT)
- Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT)
How can I watch the NBA playoffs on TV?
As in a regular non-COVID season, Disney-owned ABC and ESPN will broadcast games, with ABC broadcasting the NBA Finals. ESPN is the exclusive TV network for the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.
AT&T-owned Turner Sports, which runs TNT and “jointly” manages the league’s NBA Digital division that includes NBA TV, will also be broadcasting games. The network is a close NBA partner and broadcasts several regular-season games weekly as well as the bulk of playoff games. TNT is the exclusive TV network for the 2020 Western Conference Finals.
You can see the NBA’s national television schedule here, with games on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.
You don’t need cable or satellite TV to watch the games on ESPN or TNT. Most of the channels are offered on four of the major live TV streaming services, though not all offer ABC, TNT and NBA TV, and you’ll want to double-check that your regional sports network is included.
Sling TV’s $30-a-month Orange package includes ESPN and TNT but not ABC. If you want NBA TV you will also need to subscribe to the “Sports Extra” add-on for an additional $10 per month. Read our Sling TV review.
FuboTV recently added ESPN and ABC (where available) to give it three of the four major channels — ABC, ESPN and NBA TV — if you get the $60 per month Standard package plus the $6 per month Fubo Extra add-on (for NBA TV).
TNT is no longer available on FuboTV. Read our FuboTV review.
AT&T TV Now includes ABC, ESPN and TNT with its $55 per month Plus package, with some regional sports networks, like those in New York and Los Angeles, available in the $80 per Max offering. NBA TV, however, is not included until you go to the $124 per month Xtra package. Read our AT&T TV Now review.
Those who paid for League Pass, the NBA’s out-of-market offering that lets viewers watch every game, will be able to continue watching through their TV provider or online. Those who were paying for the service on a monthly basis were billed starting on July 30. (Billing was paused in March when the league shut down.)
Those looking to get League Pass to catch all the action for the rest of the regular season will be able to pay $29 for the rest of the year, or $40 for League Pass Premium, which drops commercials in exchange for an in-arena feed during timeouts and quarter breaks.
Some quick things to note: League Pass doesn’t include NBA TV by default (it’s available as a $20 add-on for both packages) so you won’t be able to watch national games on NBA TV. The service also does not allow you to watch games broadcast on TV in your area, including those on a regional sports network or on a national provider (like ESPN, ABC, NBA TV or TNT).
How long does the season go?
The NBA resumed its regular season on July 30 and ends today, with one or two play-in games taking place, if necessary, on Saturday and Sunday.
Each of the invited teams will play eight regular-season games to both figure out seeding and get ready for the playoffs. The exact schedule for each of the teams can be found on NBA.com, although games — at least for most of the final weeks of the regular season — will generally be played throughout the day.
When do the playoffs start?
The playoffs will begin on Monday, Aug. 17. Game 7 of the NBA Finals will take place, if necessary, no later than Oct. 13.
Which teams are in?
The 22 teams invited to Orlando for the restart included the 16 teams that would have qualified for the playoffs at the time of the restart, plus six teams that were six games or fewer from the eighth and final playoff seed in their respective conferences.
- 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
- Phoenix Suns
The other remaining eight teams are all done for the year and are prepping for the offseason and NBA Draft, which will be held on Oct. 16. Better luck next year, Knicks fans.
Which players are sitting out?
Whether it’s from injury, positive COVID-19 tests or any other reason, like a concern about getting hurt or catching the coronavirus, there are a number of notable players sitting out the restart.
- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
- Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
- DeAndre Jordan (Brooklyn Nets)
- Taurean Prince (Brooklyn Nets)
- Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets)
- Wilson Chandler (Brooklyn Nets)
- LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
- Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah Jazz)
- Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks)
- Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers)
- Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
- Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards)
- Thabo Sefolosha (Houston Rockets)
- Trevor Ariza (Portland Trail Blazers)
Among the players listed, Jordan, Prince and Dinwiddie all tested positive for the coronavirus.
How does the play-in tournament work?
Here’s how this will all go down, according to an FAQ posted on NBA.com:
“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 would be necessary. The final playoff berth would simply go to the team with the eighth-best record (regular-season games plus seeding games)” in that respective conference.
But, the site continues, “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 [would] basically be a best-of-two series — where the No. 9 seed would have to win two head-to-head matchups to take over the No. 8 spot.”
Where are the games being held?
The NBA is using three different venues on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus: The HP Field House, Visa Athletic Center and a site Disney calls “The Arena.”
The HP Field House has been previously used to host an NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament called the Orlando Invitational. Its next tournament — featuring the likes of Auburn, Michigan State and Gonzaga — is currently set to run Thanksgiving weekend.
Where are the players staying? What do they do when not playing?
The players, team staff and their personnel and families are divided across three different Disney properties: the Grand Destino, the Grand Floridian and the Yacht Club.
The hotels are sorted by team standings, with top seeds like the Bucks, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers staying at the Grand Destino, which opened last year. Teams that are on the playoff bubble — like the Blazers, Kings and Pelicans — are staying at Disney’s Yacht Club.
As Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania notes, when not playing players can attend other games, go to movie screenings and play video games, plus take advantage of pools, trails, barbers, manicurists and pedicurists.
Ping-pong is also available, but just singles games. Doubles are not allowed in order to maintain social distancing, as pointed out by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.