The NBA announced Friday that it has finalized a plan for restarting the 2019-2020 season, which was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league also released a complete game schedule for the remaining matchups.
The season will resume on July 30, with what the league described in a press release as "stringent health and safety protocols." The league said all of the season's remaining games will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida, with no fans present.
On opening night, the Utah Jazz will face the New Orleans Pelicans, and the Los Angeles Clippers will take on the Los Angeles Lakers. The following day, the Boston Celtics will face the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Houston Rockets will face the Dallas Mavericks.
Twenty-two teams will participate in the season restart: the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages, and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth-seed team in each conference. Each of those teams will play eight "seeding games."
The seeding games will run through August 14. At that point, the seven teams in each conference with the highest combined winning percentages across regular-season games and seeding games will be the first through seventh seeds for the NBA Playoffs for that conference, according to the release. If the eighth team in each conference is more than four games ahead of the ninth, it will be the eighth seed — if not, the two teams will face off in a play-in tournament to determine the eighth seed on August 15 or 16.
Once the 16-team playoff field has been established, the league will move forward with the regular conference format. The NBA finals will begin on August 17 and end no later than October 13.
The league also noted that "the goal of the season restart" is to "find tangible and sustainable ways to address racial inequality across the country." That includes increasing black representation in the NBA, working with more black-owned businesses, and forming a foundation to promote educational and economic opportunities within the black community.
"We have worked together with the Players Association to establish a restart plan that prioritizes health and safety, preserves competitive fairness and provides a platform to address social justice issues," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in the release. "We are grateful to our longtime collaborator Disney for its role in playing host and making this return to play possible, and we also thank the public health officials and infectious disease specialists who helped guide the creation of comprehensive medical protocols and protections."
Of the 302 players tested on June 23, 16 were positive for the virus, the league said in a statement earlier Friday.