2020 NBA playoffs

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2020 NBA playoffs
DatesAugust 17–October 13, 2020
Defending championsToronto Raptors

The 2020 NBA playoffs will be the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2019–20 season. The playoffs were originally scheduled to begin on April 18. However, the league suspended the season on March 11, 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic after players tested positive for the virus.[1]

On June 4, 2020, the NBA Board of Governors approved a plan to restart the season on July 31, 2020;[2] this proposal was then approved by members of the National Basketball Players Association on June 5. Under this plan, the 22 top teams in the league at the time of the suspension will play eight additional regular season games to determine playoff seeding, and 16 of those clubs will then play in a conventional postseason tournament. However, should the ninth seed within a conference finish the regular season within four games of the eighth seed, they will then compete in a play-in series.[3]



After the NBA suspended its season on March 11, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league started to explore implementing a special postseason format just for this year.[4]

On June 4, 2020, the NBA Board of Governors approved a plan to restart the season on July 31, 2020 in the NBA Bubble, with 22 of the 30 teams in the league, all clubs within six games of a playoff spot. Under this plan, the 22 teams will play eight regular-season "seeding" games. A possible best-of-three play-in series for the final seed in each conference would then be held if the ninth seed finishes the regular season within four games of the eighth seed. The eighth seed would start with a de facto 1–0 lead, meaning that it would need just one win to advance, while the ninth seed would need two. The NBA's regular playoff format would then proceed as normal. All games would be played behind closed doors at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World.[2]

Under the NBA's regular playoff format, the eight teams with the most wins in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The seedings are based on each team's record. Each conference's bracket is fixed; there is no reseeding. All rounds are best-of-seven series; the series ends when one team wins four games, and that team advances to the next round. All rounds, including the NBA Finals, are in a 2–2–1–1–1 format. In the conference playoffs, home court advantage goes to the higher-seeded team (number one being the highest). Seeding is based on each team's regular season record within a conference; if two teams have the same record, standard tiebreaker rules are used. Conference seedings are ignored for the NBA Finals: Home court advantage goes to the team with the better regular season record, and, if needed, ties are broken based on head to head record, followed by intra-conference record.

Playoff qualifying[edit]

On February 23, 2020, the Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot.[5] The Toronto Raptors,[6] Los Angeles Lakers,[7] and Boston Celtics[8] subsequently clinched playoff berths before the season was suspended on March 11.[4]

Denotes team that clinched a playoff berth prior to the March 11 suspension of the season
* Denotes team that automatically clinched a playoff berth or a division title on the June approval of the 22-team plan to resume the season

Eastern Conference[edit]

Seed Team Record Clinched
Playoff berth Division title Best record
in conference
Best record
in NBA
1 Milwaukee Bucks 55–14 February 23†[5] June 4* August 6[9] August 6
2 Toronto Raptors 49–19 March 5†[6]
3 Boston Celtics 46–23 March 10†[8]
4 Miami Heat 43–26 June 4*[2] June 4*
5 Indiana Pacers 42–27 June 4*[2]
6 Philadelphia 76ers 42–27 June 4*[2]
7 Brooklyn Nets 33–36 August 7[10]
8 Orlando Magic 32–38 August 7[11]

Western Conference[edit]

Seed Team Record Clinched
Playoff berth Division title Best record
in conference
Best record
in NBA
1 Los Angeles Lakers 51–17 March 6†[7] August 3[12] August 3[12]
2 Los Angeles Clippers 46–22 June 4*[2]
3 Denver Nuggets 45–24 June 4*[2]
4 Houston Rockets 43–25 June 4*[2]
5 Utah Jazz 43–26 June 4*[2]
6 Oklahoma City Thunder 42–26 June 4*[2]
7 Dallas Mavericks 41–30 August 2[13]
8 Memphis Grizzlies 33–37

Playoff bracket[edit]

Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Teams with home court advantage, the higher-seeded team, are shown in italics.

  First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
E1 Milwaukee*  
Eastern Conference
W1 LA Lakers*  
Western Conference

* Division winner
Bold Series winner
Italic Team with home-court advantage

Media coverage[edit]


ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV are set to telecast the playoffs nationally in the United States. During the first two rounds, games will be split between TNT, ESPN, and ABC regardless of conference. NBA TV will also televise selected games in the first round. Regional sports networks affiliated with the teams could also broadcast the games, except for games televised on ABC. The Western Conference Finals will air on TNT, while ESPN will televise the Eastern Conference Finals. ABC owns the exclusive television rights to the 2020 NBA Finals, which would be the 18th consecutive year for the network.


  1. ^ "NBA to suspend season following tonight's games" (Press release). National Basketball Association. March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "NBA approves 22-team format to finish season". ESPN. June 4, 2020. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  3. ^ "NBPA reps vote to approve 22-team format to finish season". Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Zillgitt, Jeff (March 12, 2020). "What's next for NBA, teams, players during coronavirus hiatus?". USA Today. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Bucks earliest to clinch playoff berth in 15 years". ESPN.com. February 23, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Raptors clinch playoff spot with win over Warriors". TSN.ca. March 6, 2020. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Lakers Clinch 1st Playoff Berth Since 2013 with Win over Giannis, Bucks". Bleacher Report. March 7, 2020. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Celtics Clinch Playoff Spot With Win Over Pacers". Sports Illustrated. March 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  9. ^ "Giannis Antetokounmpo says Bucks' biggest obstacle after clinching 1-seed 'is ourselves'". ESPN. August 6, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  10. ^ "Nets 'took care of business' in clinching playoff spot, Jacque Vaughn says". ESPN. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  11. ^ "Holiday scores 28; Pelicans top Wizards without Williamson". ESPN. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Lakers beat Jazz 116-108 to clinch top seed in West". ESPN. August 3, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  13. ^ "Mavericks clinch playoff spot with Grizzlies' loss; drought to end at 3 years". ESPN. August 2, 2020. Retrieved August 2, 2020.

External links[edit]