When do the NBA playoffs start?

2023 NBA Finals - Game Five
2023 NBA Finals - Game Five / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

After winning their first NBA title last season, many Nuggets fans are still nursing that long-lasting championship hangover. But now we’re beyond the Super Bowl, past the NBA trade deadline, and the all-star break. It’s time for the Nuggets - and their fans - to switch gears and ramp up for another playoff run and a bid at a title defense.

The Nuggets are currently 41-19, third in the Western Conference, but just a game out of first place. Counting Saturday night’s tilt with the Lakers, they have 22 games left in the regular season. So let’s take a look at some key dates and facts to get familiar with as we enter this stretch run.

When do the playoffs start?

The NBA playoffs officially begin on Saturday, April 20th. The postseason itself begins on Tuesday, April 16th with the Play-In Tournament, but barring a late-season collapse of epic proportions, the Nuggets won’t be involved (they’d have to fall all the way out of the top 6). The last day of the regular season is Sunday, April 14th.

How many rounds are the playoffs?

The playoffs are a four-round, knockout-style tournament. The top 8 seeds (1-6, plus the two play-in winners) from each conference make it, with 1 playing 8, 2 playing 7, 3 playing 6, and 4 playing 5. Teams will advance through the bracket from the first round to the second round, to the conference finals, and ultimately to the NBA Finals.

How many games are in each round?

As of 2003, every playoff series is best of 7. So a team must win 16 playoff games to take home an NBA championship. Prior to 2003, the first round was a best of 5 series. Last season the Nuggets defeated the Timberwolves in the first round 4 games to 1, they bested the Suns in round 2 4-2, swept the Lakers 4-0, and topped the Heat in the finals 4 games to 1. They never had to face elimination, or a game 7.

Who was the last team to win back-to-back titles?

The last team to repeat as NBA champions was the Golden State Warriors who won it all in 2017 and 2018. The Warriors were the fourth team to accomplish the feat this century, as the Miami Heat pulled it off in 2012 and 2013, the Lakers did it in 2009 and 2010, and the Lakers also did it to kick off the millennium, winning three straight in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The Nuggets aim to become the fifth team to win consecutive titles this season.