The National Basketball Association (NBA) season is one of the most anticipated times of year for basketball fans. With 30 teams and 82 games per team, the NBA season provides months of exciting matchups and playoff drama. But when exactly does the NBA season begin and end? Let’s take a detailed look at the schedule and key dates for the NBA season.
Overview of the NBA Season Structure
The NBA season traditionally begins in mid-October and runs through mid-June, comprising 82 regular season games for each team. The playoffs then begin in mid-April and culminate in the NBA Finals in early June.
The season is structured as follows:
Each team plays around 5 exhibition games to warm up and evaluate newly acquired players.
Regular Season (October to April)
- 82 games per team
- Generally a game every other day
- Divided into four quarters of around 20 games each
All-Star Break (mid-February)
A few days off for the All-Star Game and festivities.
Playoffs (April to June)
- 16 of 30 teams make the playoffs
- Eight teams from each conference
- Seeding determined by regular season record
- Playoff format is best-of-seven elimination rounds
NBA Finals (June)
- Final playoff round to determine NBA champion
- Best-of-seven series
- Typically concludes in early to mid-June
Now let’s look at some key dates in more detail.
When Does the Regular Season Start and End?
The regular season opens in mid-October and runs through mid-April. Here are the key dates:
- Mid-October: Regular season begins, first games tip off
- Christmas Day: Iconic slate of games on Dec. 25
- Mid-February: All-Star break for All-Star Game
- Early April: Regular season ends, playoff seeding set
The exact dates vary year to year based on the schedule, but opening night is typically in the third week of October. The NBA strategically schedules marquee matchups on Christmas Day when there are fewer sports competitions.
In 2023, opening night will be Tuesday, October 18 and the regular season will conclude on Sunday, April 9, 2023. The All-Star Game is scheduled for February 19, 2023 in Salt Lake City.
When Do the NBA Playoffs Start?
The NBA Playoffs begin in mid-April after the regular season ends and run through mid-June. The key playoff dates are:
- Mid-April: Playoffs begin with first round
- Early May: Conference semifinals begin
- Late May: Conference finals begin
- Early June: NBA Finals begin
For the 2023 season, the playoffs will likely start around April 15, 2023 with the exact schedule pending. The playoffs are comprised of four rounds – first round, semifinals, conference finals, and finals. Each series is best-of-seven. The higher seeded team has home court advantage.
Sixteen teams make the playoffs – the top eight teams from the Eastern Conference and top eight from the Western Conference. The team with the best record in each conference is the #1 seed.
When is the NBA Finals?
The NBA Finals represent the championship series to crown the league champion. This best-of-seven matchup between the final teams remaining in the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs.
The Finals take place in early June each year. Game 1 of the series tips off on the first Thursday in June, barring schedule adjustments.
For the 2023 season, the NBA Finals will likely begin on June 1, 2023. The series will span from early June to mid-June. The seventh and final game, if necessary, is typically played in the second or third week of June.
So the entirety of the NBA Playoffs spans from mid-April through mid-June. The Finals cap off two months of exciting postseason action.
Key Milestones in the NBA Season
Beyond the season start, end, and playoffs, here are some other notable milestones in the NBA calendar:
- Preseason: Exhibition games in October
- Opening Night: First games tip off in mid-October
- Christmas Day Games: Marquee matchups on Dec. 25
- MLK Day Games: Tribute games on MLK holiday weekend
- All-Star Weekend: All-Star Game and festivities in mid-February
- Trade Deadline: Last day for trades, late February
- Draft Lottery: Draft order determined, mid-May
- Finals MVP: MVP of championship series
These are some of the high points and benchmarks that punctuate the 10-month NBA season.
NBA Offseason Schedule
The NBA offseason runs from mid-June through mid-October in the lead up to a new season. Key offseason events include:
- NBA Draft: Late June
- Free Agency: July 1 start
- Summer League: July exhibition games
- Training Camps: Late September
- Preseason: October
This is when trades, free agent signings, draft picks, coaching changes and other player movement occurs. It’s an active offseason before the build up begins again for opening night in October.
The NBA season is a long journey filled with thrilling gameplay and drama. It tips off in mid-October, comprises 82 regular season games, a midseason All-Star break, and over two months of playoffs to crown the year’s champion. The Finals match the final teams standing in early June. With a detailed schedule, Christmas showcase, playoff excitement, championship series, and active offseason, the NBA calendar provides year-round entertainment.
When do the NBA playoffs end?
The NBA playoffs typically end in mid-June with Game 7 of the NBA Finals, if necessary. For the 2023 season, the estimated date would be the second or third week of June.
How many teams make the NBA playoffs?
There are 16 total playoff teams – the top 8 from the Eastern Conference and top 8 from the Western Conference. Seedings are determined by regular season records.
How long is the NBA offseason?
The NBA offseason spans from mid-June, after the Finals, through mid-October leading up to the next season’s opening night. This offseason period is around 4 months long.
How many games are in an NBA season?
An NBA season consists of 82 regular season games for each of the 30 teams, followed by a postseason of best-of-seven playoff series. So 1,230 regular season games are played.
When does NBA free agency start?
NBA free agency begins on July 1 as teams can start negotiating with free agents. Contracts can be officially signed starting July 6 once the moratorium ends.