NBA now targeting December tipoff, playoff play-in games

NBA commissioner Adam Silver takes questions at a recent press conference.

The NBA is now targeting a Dec. 22 tipoff for the 2020-21 season following a Board of Governors call on Friday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania added that the league is considering a 72-game regular season, presumably to finish around the same time as it traditionally does in late June, or perhaps early July.

This news follows reports from earlier in the day that stated the league was focusing on a late-December start to next season. Per Marc Stein of the New York Times, the league had been “gaining momentum” on deciding on Christmas Day.

Also, Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported similar news, first mentioning that the league was considering a shortened season.

Along with all that, Charania reported that the NBA wants to continue to incorporate a playoff “play-in” game, something that was utilized to determine the eighth seed in the Western Conference this past season on the Disney campus. In that game, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the NBA is hopeful of having teams play games in home markets, with at least some fans back in attendance — but added much of that will be determined by the coronavirus pandemic and what can be done safely.

“The goal for us next season is to play a standard season, 82-game season and playoffs. In home arenas, in front of fans,” Silver said last month.

Ideally, Charania added, the season will have been completed by the time Tokyo Olympics begin in late July, allowing NBA players to represent their national teams.

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the Board of Governors would be holding a call Friday, writing that they would focus on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18) to begin next season.

“That course could ultimately be followed, but in recent days, some governors have pivoted and begun considering the quicker timeline,” Windhorst and Lowe reported. “Others continue to want to hold out for fans to be permitted into more arenas.”

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of Amico Hoops. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for both Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and

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