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The NBA announced that the 2023 playoffs would be extended to include a play-in round in each conference. So, how many teams make the NBA playoffs?

Ten teams will proceed to the playoffs in each conference, with teams seeded 7th through 10th competing in a play-in tournament to earn a spot in the conference playoffs.

To discover the details, let’s read on with Scott Fujita!

How Many NBA Teams Make The Playoffs 2023?

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How Many Teams In The 2023 Basketball Playoffs?

Each conference’s play-in tournament will come in the NBA playoffs in 2023. The regular season, trimmed to 72 games because of the epidemic, will begin on December 22. Besides, the postseason starts on May 18. 

Ten teams in each conference will proceed to the playoffs, with teams seeded 7th through 10th competing in a play-in tournament for a chance to play in the conference playoffs. However, the coronavirus pandemic cut short the regular season and prompted a postponement of the start of the next one. 

View more: NBA teams without a championship

The NBA Board of Governors declared that regular season would be split into two parts, with the first lasting from December 22 to March 4, followed by the All-Star break (from March 5 to March 10), and the second half being from March 11 to May 16.

The 7th and 8th best records will play one game in each tournament, with the victor earning the No. 7 seed in the playoffs. The 9th and 10th teams will play a game, with the winner facing the loser of the “seven-eight” game for the chance to be the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.

In comparison to the regular 82-game season, the 72-game schedule will not be fully balanced. The Second Half schedule will contain the remaining 72 games not planned in the First Half for each team, and the league will add games postponed during the first round to the Second Half schedule.

These teams have to play three games against intraconference opponents. Moreover, two games against inter-conference opponents are on the schedule. The playoffs are slated to wrap up on July 22, before the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo begins.

What Is The Play-In Tournament?

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Play-In Tournament Is An Interesting Approach

The NBA play-in tournament is a fresh – and presumably interesting – approach for the league to choose which eight playoff teams from each conference will advance to the playoffs. 

Last summer, a variant of the concept appeared to restart the bubble, but this season is the league’s first use of a complete play-in tournament. 

Currently, the league’s Board of Governors has only authorized the proposal for this season. Assuming no serious issues arise, it will most likely continue in the future, although this is not a guarantee at this time.

The NBA will have a play-in game at the end of the regular season in 2020-22. It is followed by the first round of the playoffs. 

The tournament, which comprises four teams from each conference, was created to reduce tanking during the regular season’s closing weeks. Here’s all you need to know about the play-in game, which starts on May 18: 

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When Was The NBA Play-In Tournament 2023?

The NBA play-in tournament took place between May 18 and 21. On May 22, the playoffs began. The tournament’s entire schedule is here.

Match Detail
Game 1
  • When: Tuesday, May 18 | 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, Indiana
  • TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV
Game 2
  • When: Tuesday, May 18 | 9 p.m. ET
  • Where: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts
  • TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV  
Game 3
  • When: Wednesday, May 19 | 7:30 ET
  • Where: FedEx Forum — Memphis, Tennessee
  • TV: ESPN | Stream: WatchESPN
Game 4
  • When: Wednesday, May 19 | 10 p.m. ET
  • Where: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California
  • TV: ESPN | Stream: WatchESPN
East: Winner of Game 1
  • When: Thursday, May 20 | 8 p.m. ET
  • Where: TBD
  • TV: TNT | Live stream: fuboTV  
West: Winner of Game 3 
  • When: Friday, May 21 | TBD
  • Where: TBD
  • TV: ESPN | Stream: WatchESPN  

How Does The Play-In Tournament Work?

Before the play-in tournament, the top eight seeds in each league would automatically qualify for the playoffs after the regular season; that’s no longer the case. Only teams in the top six seeds in each league will get a postseason berth. 

The teams who finish 7th and 8th in each conference will compete in a four-team play-in tournament with the 9th and 10th to determine the remaining two playoff slots. The following is how the format works:

  • In a one-game duel, the 7th squad will face the 8th team. The winner of the match will receive the No. 7 playoff spot 
  • In a one-game fight, the 9th team will meet the 10th team. That game’s loser will quit the tournament. 
  • In a one-game duel, the loser of the 7th position vs. 8th position game will host the winner of the 9th vs. 9th place game. The winner of that match will be seeded eighth in the playoffs, while the loser will be out. 
  • The NBA finals will resume as usual after that.

Which Teams Were In The Play-In Tournament 2023?

The No. 7 seed Lakers and the No. 8 seed Warriors competed for the right to progress to the first round in the Western Conference. The No. 9 Grizzlies and No. 10 Spurs played in an elimination match, with the victor facing the loser of the Lakers-Warriors matchup. 

The No. 7 Celtics and No. 8 Wizards competed for a berth in the first round in the Eastern conference. The No. 9 Pacers faced the No. 10 Hornets, with the winner facing the loser of the Boston-Washington matchup.

How Are The NBA Playoffs Seeded?

how many teams make the nba playoffs

The Top Six Teams In The League Are Seeded 1 To 6

Depending on their regular-season record, the top six teams in the league are seeded 1 to 6. The no. 1 seed in each conference goes to the only team with the best record. 

Meanwhile, the no. 6 spots go to the team with the worst result, and so on. In the event of a tie, the team with the better head-to-head record obtains the higher seed. 

If that is also level, the divisional champion gets the higher seed. The 3rd tie-breaker is the win-loss record against other teams in their division if neither of the above groups is the winner. 

If none of those mentioned above criteria concludes, the win ratio against conference opponents is the final tie-breaker. The play-in tournament determines the 7th and 8th seeds in each conference.

How Do The NBA Playoffs Work?

A best-of-seven knockout format is responsible for the playoffs. It implies that two teams compete seven times, with the team that wins four games moving on to the next round. 

The no. 1 seed in each conference faces the no. 8 seed in the first round. No. 2 is facing no. 7, no. 3 is facing no. 6, and no. 4 is facing no. 5. The conference semifinals are the second round, while the Western conference finals are the third round. 

The champion depends on the teams that advance from each league to the NBA Championship. The team with the best regular-season record gets a home-ground advantage in each round.

The format for a postseason series is 2-2-1-1-1 home/away. It implies that the team with the higher seed gets to host games 1, 2, 5, and 7.


Here are some frequently asked questions we have collected while researching this field.

Is The New Playoff Play-In A Good Idea?

The answer is yes. Expanding the play-in tournament structure is an excellent idea since it will keep more teams active for extended periods.

With more than half of the league making the playoffs, one could argue that the NBA already has too many playoff teams. But, if 16 teams are going to make it every year, you may as well spice up how they get into the playoffs.

What Impact Will The NBA’s Split Schedule Have On Teams? 

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Covid-19 Has Large Impact On The Game

This schedule is responsible for handling the COVID-19. Players may get COVID-19 while on the road with their teams. That appears to be the case in baseball, and football as well. 

In the NBA, when it comes to make-up games for the second half of the season, the NBA needs to figure out how to account for players acquired later in the regular season. Otherwise, roster alterations may help certain leagues when they make up games later.

What Are The Concerns About The Schedule?

Can the league maintain a normal schedule involving regular travel in the middle of a pandemic? 

While it may be a good idea to incorporate some flexibility into the schedule by releasing it in halves without an All-Star break in between, an NBA team’s travel itinerary is meticulously planned, and even tiny setbacks may throw everything off. 

Of course, they are dealing with a situation that might result in far more than “minimal” inconveniences.

Final Thoughts

Long-time NBA fans know that if there is anything constant in the league, it is changing. The league has seen a lot of changes over the years, from players shooting more threes to teams switching to an offense-first strategy. 

Hopefully, this article helps you answer the question ‘How many teams make the NBA playoffs this year?’. If you have any questions about this topic, please refer to Scott Fujita for more helpful information. 

Thank you for reading!

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