June 26 (UPI) — Hours after officially finalizing a plan to resume the 2019-20 season, the NBA released a complete revised schedule for its 22-team restart in Orlando, Fla.
The season will resume — without fans — on July 30 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. On the opening night of competition, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will face Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz, while LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will square off against Kawhi Leonard‘s L.A. Clippers.
Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus, leading to the league suspending play in mid-March.
“We can’t outrun the virus,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a conference call Friday. “This is what we’re going to be living with for the foreseeable future. This is a closed network. While it’s not impermeable, it is protected.”
There will be six games taking place on July 31, which will occur seven times in the seeding portion of the restart schedule. The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies will play in a key game for the eighth spot in the Western Conference that night.
The seeding games will run through Aug. 14. If a team is within four games of the eighth seed in either conference at the conclusion of the seeding games, there will be a play-in series to determine the final playoff seed.
Once the 16-team playoff field has been set, the league will continue with the normal postseason format. The NBA Finals will start Aug. 17 and end no later than Oct. 13.
Earlier Friday, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced that 16 players tested positive for the coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory testing in preparation for the restart.
Those 16 players were part of a pool of 302 players who were tested Tuesday. Silver said the numbers were close to what the league expected and that none of the 16 individuals were seriously ill.
Mandatory workouts begin July 1, and teams participating in the NBA’s 22-team restart can begin arriving in Orlando for camp July 7. Training camps will run from July 9 to 29.