NBA structure explained to an European


As an European just approaching the NBA, I keep struggling to understand how the conference’s and divisions work, I’ve seen posts here from 2016 but I Know some things changed since then.

I thought I understood but now I see the Chicago Bulls played the Golden State Warriors, the only game between two conferences, and it’s not playoffs… What did I miss?

In: 21

Two conferences, with 3 divisions in each, and 5 teams per division.

Each year, every team plays:

* 4 games against the other four teams in their division. (16 games total)
* 4 games against 6 other teams in their conference. (24)
* 3 games against the remaining 4 teams in their conference. (12)
* 2 games against each of the 15 teams in the other conference. (30)

Total: 82 games in the regular season.

The schedule is intended to keep travel costs down, form local rivalries while still getting smaller-market teams/conferences a few paydays from games with higher-profile teams.

There are 2 conferences, and each conference has 3 divisions of 5 teams (30 teams total). Teams play every other NBA team during the season, playing teams from the other conference twice (one home, one road game), playing same conference teams in other divisions 3 or 4 times, and playing their own division 4 times each.