As the FIBA World Cup draws to a close and its biggest stars look at returning back to their NBA teams, training camp and pre season looms. Another grueling NBA season lies ahead of them, a full slate of regular season games, hopefully with an extended trip to the post season ahead of them.
How many games are in the NBA season 2023? The NBA regular season will feature 82 games per team. 41 played at home and 41 played on the road. This totals 1,230 games for the NBA regular season in 2023-24. Following the Regular season there will be the NBA Play-in, which see’s 4 teams from each conference compete for the final play-off places. This will see an additional 6 games. Following this the NBA playoffs begin, featuring 16 qualifying teams, where the eventual winner will have to win 4x best of 7 game rounds. The playoffs will have in total between 60 and 105 games. In the 2023-24 season there will be the addition of the NBA’s MidSeason Tournament featuring 67 games, while the majority of these games will double as regular season games, the Championship Game to crown the In-season Tournament Winner will be an additional game. In total the NBA’s 2023-24 season will feature a minimum of 1,297 games and a maximum of 1,342. (Excluding any games at All-star weekend).
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As the NBA constantly attempts to evolve, change and grow in order to keep up with the modern world, many additions to the NBA calendar are coming into effect. The Play-in is now an established and heralded new element, the In-season tournament looks set to follow in its footsteps this year. On the horizon is an expansion which could see new teams added and the always talked about reduction in the grueling 82 game regular season. We look at it all below.
How many games are in an NBA season?
The below table breaks down simply the amount of games that an NBA season includes. We have looked at this from the point of a single franchise and the 30 team league as a whole. Calculating the minimum and maximum amount of games they can play.
|NBA 2023-24 season total Games|
|Type of Game||Min Per Team||Max Per Team||League Total Min||League Total Max|
- The In-season Tournament will feature 67 games, although only the final ‘winner takes all’ championship game is an extra fixture outside of the regular season schedule.
- Minimum Playoff games assume all 15 series finish in a 4-0 sweep.
- Maximum Playoff games assume all 15 series finish in the maximum 7 games.
Why is the NBA season 82 games?
Since the 1967-68 season, when the San Diego Rockets (now Houston Rockets) and Seattle SuperSonics (now OKC Thunder) joined the league. Prior to this the league had 81 games for 1 season in 1966-67 and 80 games for the 4 seasons before that starting 1961-61. It has remained at 82 games ever since, despite the league expanding from just 12 to 30 teams over the years.
The current 30 team, 82 game NBA season allows for each of the 30 teams team to play their four Divisional opponents four times a year (16 games), six other teams from the same conference four times a year (24 games), the remaining four conference opponents three times a year (12 games), and the fifteen teams from the opposing conference twice a year (30 games).
Detractors say this doesn’t really make much sense, isn’t necessary and a reduction in games, to maybe 72 would lead to a much leaner and more watchable product. The main argument is player “load management” which has seen teams, in conjunction with sports scientists, actively hold players back from some fixtures in order to maintain their health and performance across the long 82 game regular season. Inevitably this is something that frustrates fans who pay good money to watch these superstars go to work, be it on television or live in the arena.
The main argument for keeping the 82 game schedule is the broadcast contracts, more games equals more money. If the NBA is about 2 things it’s about getting buckets and making money.
Things like the play-in tournament and the in-season tournament are designed to drive up fan engagement in matches that otherwise may have lower viewing figures and incentivise teams to play at full strength wherever possible.
There have been occasions since 1967 when the NBA season hasn’t featured a full 82 game schedule. These sub 82 game seasons are:
1998-99 – shortened to 50 games due to the CBA negotiation caused lockout
2010-11 – shortened to 66 games due to the CBA negotiation caused lockout
2019-20 – Season suspended on march 11 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Resumed with 22 teams playing 8 games in the Orlando Bubble ahead of a full play off slate.
2020-21 – shortened to 72 games to create space for an off season due to the Covid-19 Pandemic
How many games is the NBA In-season Tournament?
The NBA’s new In-season tournament looks set to be an excellent addition for the 2023-24 season. This has been a long time in the planning, has been a pet project of Commissioner Adam Silver’s and is aimed at adding some mid-season drama into the NBA calendar!
The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament will tip off on Friday, Nov. 3, consisting of two stages: Group Play and the Knockout Rounds and will culminate with the Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 9.
The Semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 7 and the Championship game will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The NBA has published the complete schedule, here.
In total the Tournament will feature 67 games, involving all 30 NBA teams. However the NBA have designed it so that it doesn’t add more than 1 game to the regular season schedule. 66 of the tournament games, including the semi-finals, will double as regular season fixtures. The Championship game itself where the first In-season Tournament winner will be crowned is the only additional fixture to the NBA calendar.
All 30 NBA teams have been drawn into groups of five within their conference (East/West) based on win-loss records from the previous season. Between Nov. 3 and Nov. 28, each team will play four designated Group Play games on “Tournament Nights” featuring one game against each opponent in its group, with two games at home and two on the road.
The Knockout Rounds will feature 8 teams in a single elimination format. The team with the best record from each of the six groups and a team from each conference with the next best record from Group Play games, known as “Wild Cards” will advance to the single elimination ‘Quarter Finals’ phase.
The quarter finals will be played in NBA team markets on Monday, Dec. 4 and Tuesday, Dec. 5. The Semifinals and Championship will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The qualifying teams will compete for a prize pool and the new In-Season Tournament trophy, the NBA Cup.
How many games is the NBA Play-in Tournament?
The NBA’s Play-in tournament has been in place since the ‘pandemic affected’ 2019-20 NBA season. Its aim is to expand the amount of teams with a chance of making the Play-offs, in order to encourage a competitive attitude throughout the season and reduce the levels of “tanking” for draft picks.
In 2022-23 the Miami Heat reached the NBA Finals after qualifying for the Play-offs via the Play-in tournament.
The Play-in tournament involves 8 teams and always features 6 games, 3 games for each conference, with 2 teams from each conference ultimately making the playoffs as the 7th and 8th seed.
After the final game of the NBA Regular season and the standings are confirmed, the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th teams from each conference enter the Play-in tournament.
Game 1 see’s 7th play 8th with the winner qualifying as the 7th seed.
Game 2 see’s 9th play 10th with the winner then facing the loser of the Game 1’s 7th vs 8th match up in Game 3. With the winner claiming the 8th seed in that conference’s playoffs.
The same format applies to both East and Western Conferences.
How many games is the NBA postseason?
The NBA post-season or Playoffs is the crowning jewel in the NBA calendar. It features 15 Playoff series, 7 in each conference and the NBA Finals.
16 teams, 8 from each conference qualify for the NBA Playoffs each season. Facing each other in order of seeding, 1vs8, 2vs7, 3vs6, 4vs5 in each conference. The team with the better regular season record has home court advantage in each of the best of 7 game series played. The series all take the same 2-2-1-1-1 format. With the first 2 games being played at the higher seeds home court, before moving for 2 games away and then alternating for the final 3 matches. The team with the better record will host 4 games and the team with the lesser record hosts just 3.
Each of the 15 series can last either 4, 5, 6 or 7 games with the first to 4 wins moving on to the next round.
- NBA First Round – 4 series in each conference, 8 series in total. Minimum number of games (4×8) is 32. Maximum number of games (7×8) is 56.
- NBA Second Round (AKA conference Semifinals) – 2 series in each conference, 4 series in total. Minimum number of games (4×4) is 16. Maximum number of games (7×4) is 28.
- NBA Conference Finals – 1 series in each conference, 2 series in total. Minimum number of games (4×2) is 8. Maximum number of games (7×2) is 14.
- NBA Finals – 1 series in total. Minimum number of games (4×1) is 4. Maximum number of games (7×1) is 7.
The Minimum number of games the NBA Playoffs can feature is 60 games, if all series end in 4-0 sweeps. The maximum number of games the NBA postseason can feature is 105 if all 15 series go to 7 games.
Individual teams can play 0, 4 or up to a maximum of 28 games in the NBA Playoffs each season.