The NBA has reportedly decided each of the 22 teams participating in the resumption of the 2019-20 season in the Orlando, Florida, area will play 10-minute quarters rather than the traditional 12 in their opening exhibition games.
According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, the decision was made so as not to overly tax players who have been off for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is reportedly also a result of the fact that not every team has a full roster in place yet.
Exhibition play will begin Wednesday with four games, and the exhibition schedule will continue through July 28. The regular season will resume July 30.
While each team will play 10-minute quarters in their first exhibition game, contests will revert to the usual 12-minute quarters in their second and third exhibition games.
Given the long layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reynolds noted that teams and coaches are approaching the exhibition games differently than they would the preseason games before the start of the regular season.
Specifically, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra conferred with Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton and Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder to discuss whether there is anything specific the teams want to work on since the Heat are facing both teams in exhibition games.
Spoelstra said: “You have to fast-track so much before you get to that eight-game regular season. … We’ll approach it that way and play probably everybody available, but definitely work on some things and do a little bit of evaluating as well.”
Following the exhibition slate, each of the remaining 22 teams will play eight games to close out the regular season. The top eight seeds in both conferences will then compete in the playoffs, which are formatted the same as usual.
The only major difference besides the fact that no fans will be in attendance is the No. 9 seed and No. 8 seed in either conference will face off in a play-in series for the final playoff spot if the ninth seed is within four games of the eighth seed.
Under the scenario, the ninth seed would have to beat the eighth seed twice to reach the playoffs, while the eighth seed would have to beat the ninth seed once.
Most of the players set to participate in the restart have entered the bubble and are following protocols, including social distancing measures and staying inside the bubble at all times.
The regular season will resume July 30 with the Jazz vs. the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. The playoffs are slated to begin Aug. 17 and the NBA Finals will commence Sept. 30.