NBA expands 2021 post-season to 20 teams

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The 2020-21 NBA post-season will be expanded to include a play-in tournament in each conference, the league announced on Tuesday.

The pandemic-shortened regular season, reduced from 82 to 72 games, will start on December 22.

The post-season will begin on May 18.

Ten teams in each conference will advance to the post-season, with teams seeded seventh through 10th participating in a play-in tournament to gain admission to the conference playoffs.

The COVID-19-truncated 2019-20 season necessitated a delayed start to the coming season, and the league continues to finalise details.

The NBA Board of Governors noted in announcing the changes that the season would be established in two segments - December 22-March 4, followed by the All-Star break (March 5-10), with the second half of the season March 11-May 16.

Intriguing differences in the play-off structure hold that the teams with the seventh-best and eighth-best records in each conference will play one game, with the winner becoming the No.7 seed in the playoffs.

At the same time, the teams with the ninth and 10th-best records will play a game, with the winner of that contest then meeting the loser of the "seven-eight" game for the right to become the No.8 seed in the playoffs.

Moreover, the 72-game schedule will not be perfectly balanced.

Teams will play 42 intraconference games, with each club facing the other teams within its conference three times.

They will play the remaining 30 games against the opposite conference - one at home and one on the road.

The playoffs are due to end by July 22, which is the day before the opening ceremony of the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo.