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New NBA season: 72 games per team, tip-off Dec. 22

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to begin their title defense in late December, the NBA announced. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to begin their title defense in late December, the NBA announced. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The 2020-21 NBA season will start on Dec. 22 and feature 72 games per team, a two-part schedule release and a play-in tournament, the league announced.

The first half of the regular-season schedule will be released near the start of training camp, which is planned for Dec. 1. The second half of the schedule will be released near the end of the first half of the season.

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First-half games will run from Dec. 22 to March 4. The All-Star break is scheduled for March 5-10. The second half is scheduled for March 11 to May 16.

Each NBA team will play three games against each opponent in their respective conference for a total of 42 games apiece. Those games will include either two home games and a road game or one home game and two road games for each team and respective opponent. The NBA has randomly assigned which opponents will play twice at home or twice on the road.

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Each team also will play two games against each opponent from the alternate conference for a total of 30 games per team.

The break in schedule release will allow the league to include games that are postponed from the first half to be played in the second half.

The league's play-in tournament -- planned for May 18 to 21 -- will determine teams that fill the No. 7 and No. 8 playoff seeds for the Eastern Conference and Western Conference, respectively. The play-in tournament will feature the teams with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference.

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The play-in tournament was approved Thursday by a vote from the league's board of governors.

The 2020-21 NBA playoffs are from May 22 to July 22.

Tentative NBA schedule for 2020-2021

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Preseason games: Dec. 11 to 19

First half of regular season: Dec. 22 to March 4

All-Star break: March 5 to 10

Second half of regular season: March 11 to May 16

Play-in tournament: May 18 to 21

NBA playoffs: May 22 to July 22

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