The NBA season in just two months, and the league has released the schedule for Opening Night and the marquee Christmas Day slate. To no surprise, star-laden teams like the Nets, Lakers, Bucks and Warriors populate both. The complete schedule for the league’s 75th anniversary season will be released at 3 p.m. ET on Friday.
Highlights NBA Schedule 2021 Christmas DayOctober 19 is Opening Night in the NBA, and per usual that means the defending league champions open at home. The Milwaukee Bucks will do that in the first of two games that night against the Brooklyn Nets in a rematch of their thrilling seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series this past season.
The game – where the Bucks also will receive their NBA champion rings and officially raise a Finals banner into the rafters for the first time in 50 years – will be broadcast on TNT at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition, for the fourth straight season, the Milwaukee Bucks will play a Christmas Day game, the league’s prime regular season showcase. The NBA champs will host the Boston Celtics at 2:30 p.m. ET, the second game in the league’s signature holiday quintuple-header.
The late game on Oct. 19 features the Golden State Warriors visiting the Los Angeles Lakers at 10 p.m. ET. After missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Warriors are expected to have a fully healthy Steph Curry, Klay Thompson (who has missed the past two seasons) and Draymond Green along with veteran Andre Iguodala, second-year center James Wiseman and rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga. Golden State will be a title contender again.
The Lakers, of course, have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and now Russell Westbrook in what will be his LA debut. The Lakers beat the Warriors during last season’s play-in tournament game. While Curry was brilliant all night long to the tune of 37 points, it was James who got the last laugh with a game-sealing long-range 3-pointer to seal the Lakers’ berth in the playoffs.
The first Christmas game at noon ET is the Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks, a rematch of their first-round playoff series won by Atlanta. The Hawks remain mostly unchanged from the team that knocked New York out of the playoffs – Trae Young became a big villain in New York. The Knicks upgraded their offense by adding Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker.
As noted, the second game on Christmas is Celtics at Bucks at 2:30 p.m. ET. Boston should be a contender in the East, although perhaps a level down from Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Game 3 is Suns at Warriors at 5 p.m. ET. It’s the first game on the holiday for Phoenix, which of course lost in the NBA Finals to the Bucks, since 2009. The Suns’ biggest move was retaining Chris Paul, who opted on running it back with Phoenix after a foray into the free-agent market. The team remains a threat with Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton leading the way. The last time the Warriors didn’t play on the holiday was at the start of the 2012-13 season.
By far the most anticipated game, though, is at 8 p.m. ET as the Nets, the betting favorites to win the Eastern Conference, visit the Lakers, the betting favorites to win the West. Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving against LeBron, Davis and Westbrook. Los Angeles also signed Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk. Dwight Howard returned to join James, Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker as the only remaining members of the Lakers’ 2019 title run.
To cap off Christmas, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks will travel to Salt Lake City to face Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET. Doncic is currently the betting favorite to win 2022 NBA MVP.