When it comes to professional basketball, one of the many exciting aspects is the sheer number of games played throughout the season, but how many games each team plays during a regular season.
In a standard NBA season, each team plays a total of 82 games. The league consists of 30 teams, divided into two conferences: the Eastern and Western Conferences. Each conference comprises three divisions, with five teams per division.
The games are divided among in-division, out-of-division, and interconference match-ups, allowing for an exciting and varied season of competition. However, it is worth noting that the 2020 season saw a reduced number of games due to the Covid pandemic.
Understanding the number of games played during an NBA season is crucial for fans, players, and teams alike. It sheds light on the competitive nature of professional basketball and the fierce contest among NBA athletes pursuing glory on the court.
With 82 games in a regular season, it’s clear that the NBA offers plentiful opportunities for its fan base to revel in the thrilling action that has come to define the sport.
NBA Regular Season Games
The NBA regular season comprises multiple games played between teams competing for a chance to qualify for the playoffs. Each season offers an exciting display of talent, athleticism, and teamwork.
Total Number of Games
Each team in the NBA plays a total of 82 games in a standard regular season. This translates to a total of 1,230 games across all teams in the league. The 82-game format has been in place since the 1967-68 season, with only a few exceptions, such as the 2020 season, which was affected by the Covid pandemic.
Distribution of Games Across Conferences
The NBA league consists of 30 teams, which are divided into two conferences — the Eastern and Western conferences. Each conference has three divisions, with five teams in each division. The regular-season games are distributed in a format that ensures a balanced and competitive schedule for each team.
Here’s a breakdown of how the regular-season games are distributed among conferences and divisions:
- Each team plays their divisional opponents four times (a total of 16 games)
- Teams face off against teams from the other two divisions within their conference three or four times (a total of 36 games)
- Each team plays against teams from the opposing conference twice (a total of 30 games)
In summary, the NBA regular season consists of 82 games per team, with a strategic distribution of games across conferences and divisions to ensure a balanced competition. This format has been consistent over the years, except for some special circumstances such as the 2020 season affected by the pandemic.
NBA Postseason Games
The NBA postseason consists of a series of games played by the top teams from each conference following the end of the regular season. This is when the excitement reaches its peak, with seeded teams battling through several rounds of competition to reach the championship stage.
Historically, 16 teams have participated in the playoffs, with the top eight teams from each conference being selected. These teams engage in a series of elimination rounds, each requiring a team to win four out of seven games to progress. The structure of the playoff rounds includes:
- First Round
- Conference Semifinals
- Conference Finals
It should be noted that, in recent years, a Play-In Tournament has been introduced which includes the 7th to 10th seeds from each conference, adding on four extra NBA playoff qualification games per conference.
The NBA Finals represent the culmination of the playoffs, featuring the two Conference Champions battling for the league crown. The Finals follow the same seven-game series format, with the first team to win four games being declared the winner.
Throughout NBA history, the Finals have showcased some of the most memorable moments, rivalries, and legends in the sport. The ultimate prize, the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy, is awarded to the victorious team at the conclusion of the series.
NBA Preseason Games
The NBA preseason is an essential part of the league, giving teams a chance to prepare for the regular season by showcasing their talent and testing new strategies. During this time, NBA teams play a series of exhibition games, which allows coaches to evaluate player performance and make final roster decisions.
Typically, each NBA team plays a minimum of four and a maximum of eight preseason games. The exact number of games can vary from year to year, depending on factors such as scheduling adjustments and special circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a reduction in the number of preseason games in 2021.
Although preseason games do not count towards a team’s regular season record, they are important for a variety of reasons. Some key benefits of the NBA preseason include:
- Opportunity for rookies and new players to adjust to their team’s system and playing style
- Chance for teams to assess their lineup and make adjustments before the regular season begins
- Allows for injured players to ease back into gameplay and get up to speed
- Provides teams with valuable experience playing against real opponents, as opposed to just practicing with themselves
While the NBA preseason might not have the same level of excitement and pressure as the regular season or playoffs, it still holds a significant role in shaping a team’s direction and success. By participating in these exhibition games, teams have the opportunity to build chemistry, develop strategy, and ultimately prepare for the challenges that lie ahead in the regular season.
Historical Changes to NBA Seasons
The NBA has gone through several changes since its inception in 1946, when it began as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The league transitioned to its current name, the National Basketball Association, in 1949 when it merged with the National Basketball League. Throughout its existence, the number of games in the NBA regular season has evolved.
In the 1967-68 season, the NBA expanded to 12 teams and increased the regular season games to 82 per team. This format has largely remained the same, with 30 teams now participating and each playing 82 games during a standard season. However, there have been instances where the typical 82-game format has been altered due to lockouts or shortened seasons.
Lockouts and Shortened Seasons
Over the years, the NBA has experienced several lockouts, which have affected the number of games played in a season. Lockouts mainly result from disputes or negotiations over collective bargaining agreements between team owners and players. Some notable lockouts in NBA history include:
- 1998-99 lockout: This lockout lasted for 204 days, causing the regular season to be reduced from 82 games to 50.
- 2011-12 lockout: This more recent lockout lasted for 161 days, and the regular season was shortened to 66 games.
Additionally, there have been instances where seasons were shortened due to extraordinary circumstances. One significant example was the 2019-2020 season, which was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The NBA suspended the regular season in March 2020, ultimately reducing the number of regular-season games for most teams to around 65-67 before resuming and concluding with an adjusted playoff format later in the year.
Effects of Changes in Schedule
Impact on Player Health
One of the most significant effects of changes in the NBA schedule is the impact on player health. Reducing the number of games in a season or altering the game schedule can affect players’ ability to recover from injuries and fatigue.
For instance, during a compressed schedule or instances where there are back-to-back games, players have less time for recovery, which may increase their risk of injury. On the other hand, an extended schedule with fewer games may provide players with more time to recuperate and maintain their physical health.
Influence on Fan Engagement
Changes in the NBA schedule can also have a significant influence on fan engagement. Fans often invest their time and emotions in following their favorite teams and players throughout the season. Altering the number of games played or the game schedule can affect fans’ ability to keep up with the action, which may influence their overall interest in the NBA.
For example, a condensed schedule with more games may sometimes be overwhelming for fans, making it difficult for them to follow every game. At the same time, an extended schedule with fewer games may lead to gaps in the action, potentially causing a drop in fan excitement and engagement.