NBA season from December 22, ex-champs Toronto Raptors sweat over base

NBA (National Basketball Association) lifted a moratorium on trade on Monday afternoon as a precursor to Draft 2020 on Wednesday night. With the negotiating window for free agents opening on Friday, NBA franchises face hectic weeks as they negotiate trade of players, settle terms with draftees, and plan training camps and pre-season matches.

As franchises rebuild squads for the season starting on December 22, 2019 champions Toronto Raptors also search for a home away from home as they have been asked to set camp in the US due to pandemic restrictions over travelling to Canada.

The Raptors, who won the Atlantic Division and then lost to Boston Celtics in the Conference Semi-finals in the 2019-20 season that ended a couple of weeks ago, are looking for a good arena in the US that would suit them. They are also negotiating with the Canadian government for permission to play home matches at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In the interim, they have picked a place near Los Angeles for a mini-camp from Friday.

Raptors are keen to play home games in Toronto, but with Covid-19 cases rising in Ontario and across the US, the issue with the border might not be resolved before the season begins. Raptors GM Bobby Webster told a press conference on Tuesday that he expects an end to their predicament “in the near future”.

The NBA announced on Tuesday that the regular season will comprise 2160 matches with the 30 teams playing 72 matches each.

The regular season will end on May 16 and the playoffs will be played from May 22-July 22, 2021. That will leave little time for the players to join the national teams for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, scheduled from July 23.

“Each team will play three games against each intra-conference opponent (42 games per team), with each pairing featuring either two home games and one road game or one home game and two road games. Within each team’s division, the league office has randomly assigned which two opponents will be played twice at home and which two opponents will be played twice on the road,” NBA announced on Tuesday.

The first phase of the regular season schedule will be held from December 22 to March 4, 2021 and the second from March 11-May 16, after the All-Star break from March 5-10.

The regular season will be followed by a Play-In tournament (March 18-21, 2021) to determine the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.

Key dates in 2020-21 NBA schedule:

Dec 11-19: Pre-season games

Dec 22-March 4: First Half of regular season

March 5-10: All-Star break

March 11-May 16: Second Half of regular season

May 18-21: Play-In Tournament

May 22-July 22: 2021 NBA Playoffs

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