The 2021 NBA Playoffs are set to begin on May 22 and will end in the early part of July. This is much later than normal as the league was forced to delay the start of the regular season due to COVID-19 affecting the previous season.
Normally, NBA Playoffs begin at the beginning of April, and things wrap up near the middle of June. The league adjusts the NBA Playoff schedule as teams get eliminated based on the length of each series.
Typically, games in each series are played every other day, and there are some additional travel days built into the schedule as well.
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An Expert’s Guide to the NBA Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs feature the top 16 teams in the league, eight from each conference, competing for the ultimate prize. It’s an 82-game journey to reach the NBA Playoffs, but the action really heats up when the postseason begins.
The NBA Finals typically provide a kickoff to summer as an NBA champion is crowned in June. The best collection of basketball talent in the world is on display in the NBA Playoffs each year, and it draws rooting interest from around the world.
How NBA Playoffs Work
Unlike the NCAA Tournament that is a one-and-done style, the NBA Playoffs are played in series. Teams compete within their conference for the first three rounds before the crossover begins in the NBA Finals.
Teams are seeded based on regular-season records, and the bracket is established before the playoffs begin. There is no re-seeding that is done, and the bracket never changes.
The NBA Finals features a best-of-seven format with the home-court advantage being split between the two teams. Each year the NBA champion is awarded the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The 2021 NBA Playoff bracket will be the same as it always has been in the past, even though there will be a play-in tournament to determine the final two seeds. NBA Playoff brackets don’t change as teams get eliminated like what occurs in other sports.
The top overall seed in each conference will take on the number eight seed, and the rest of the teams will just fall in line from there. The top two teams in each conference would not meet up until the conference finals if they get that far.
2021: Play-In Tournament
The 2021 NBA Playoffs will feature the first-ever play-in tournament for the final two seeds in the NBA Playoffs. The top six spots will be locked in after the regular season, but the 7-10 seeds will all compete for a spot in the NBA Playoffs.
The 7-8 seeds and 9-10 seeds will square off first. The winner of the 7-8 game will automatically be the number 7 seed. The eighth seed will then take on the 9-10 seed winner for the final spot in the NBA Playoffs.
How to Watch NBA Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs are shown live on a number of different channels, but TNT has the rights to the most coverage during the first few rounds of the NBA Playoffs. TNT is also the home of the Western Conference Finals, while ESPN has the Eastern Conference.
The NBA Finals are shown on ABC each year as that company has signed a deal with the league for the broadcasting rights. NBATV also shows some first-round playoff games depending on how many games are on the schedule each night.
2020 NBA Playoff Results
The 2020 NBA season was unlike any other in history as there was a long pause near the end of the regular season due to COVID-19. The entire 2020 NBA Playoffs were played in a “bubble” in Orlando, but the action on the court was still the same.
The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Championship over the Miami Heat. Los Angeles eliminated the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals, and the Heat got past the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
History of NBA Playoffs
The NBA first adopted the 16-team NBA Playoff format in 1984, and there has been little change since that time. The first two rounds of the playoffs used to be the best-of-give series, but now all of the rounds require four wins to advance.
In 2005-06 the league made an additional change to the playoff format by changing it so the teams with the two best records in the NBA would not have to meet up in the second round. Division winners are still guaranteed a top-four seed, but two teams from the same division could be the two top seeds.
The Los Angeles Lakers have made 62 appearances in the NBA Playoffs, which is the most of any franchise. The Boston Celtics are second on the list with 58 total playoff appearances.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have each won 17 NBA Championships, tied for the most all-time.
The NBA Playoffs typically begin at the beginning of April, with the NBA Finals taking place in May/June. The NBA Playoffs don’t start until each team has played an entire regular season schedule.
The NBA Playoffs are played in four different rounds, and teams compete in their respective conference until a conference champion is determined. The winning team from each conference then faces off in the NBA Finals for the right to win the NBA Championship.
There are 16 total teams that make the NBA Playoffs each year. The top eight seeds from the Eastern and Western Conference qualify for the postseason.
The NBA Playoffs are broken up into four different rounds, and each round is a best-of-seven series. It takes 16 total wins to capture the NBA championship.
There are four rounds in the NBA Playoffs, with the first three rounds being played in each conference. The final round, the NBA Finals, features the champions of both the Eastern and Western Conference.