- The NBA’s 2020-21 season will start on December 22 with a double-header featuring the Warriors vs Nets and Clippers vs Lakers.
- The Lakers have the most nationally-televised games at 21 with the Warriors and Nets coming in second with 19 apiece.
- A Lakers vs Warriors game will headline the league’s 10-game MLK Day 2021 schedule.
As announced earlier the NBA released the first half of the 2020-21 season schedule on Friday.
The league decided to divide the season schedule into two halves to adjust to the current reality that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, the league announces its entire 82-game regular season schedule but with the uncertainties that the pandemic has bought, it has been forced to split this year’s 72-game regular season into two parts.
The second half of the schedule is expected to be announced in January 2021. The delay will give the NBA flexibility and the ability to adjust to the uncertainties that could lie ahead, considering that this season will not be conducted in a bubble format like what happened to the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.
Despite being just half of the year, the first half has plenty of marquee matchups that will begin with a “rivalry” themed opening night on December 22.
Rivalry-Themed Opening Night
The 2020-21 NBA season tips off Christmas Week with games beginning Tuesday, December 22nd on TNT!
?️ 12/22 ?️
10:00pm/et: @LAClippers/@Lakers#KiaTipOff20 #OnlyHere
— NBA (@NBA) December 4, 2020
The NBA’s 2021 Opening night will feature the rivalry between two pairs of teams. The Brooklyn Nets will host the Golden State Warriors in the appetizer at 7pm ET on TNT. This game will be the first game of Kevin Durant since the 2019 NBA Finals and his first against his former team in the Dubs.
Durant left Golden State after the 2019 season to joining Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. The Nets have made several high-profile coaching moves that include the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as assistant coach and Steve Nash as head coach. The Nets currently have the third best odds to win the 2021 NBA title at +650, behind only the Lakers (+275) and Bucks (+600).
Meanwhile, the Battle of Los Angeles has been a heated one since the Clippers rose from being the doormat of the league. The Clippers have gotten the better of the Lakers since Kobe’s retirement but last season, the Lakers won the NBA title. The game starts at 10pm ET via TNT and it will mark the first game on Montrezl Harrell since he switched to the other side of Los Angeles.
10-Game MLK Day Sked
The NBA’s MLK Day schedule:
? Magic @ Knicks
? Cavs @ Wizards
? T-Wolves @ Hawks
? Pistons @ Heat
? Spurs @ Blazers
? Suns @ Grizzlies
? Bucks @ Nets
? Mavs @ Raptors
? Rockets @ Bulls
? Warriors @ Lakers
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) December 4, 2020
Martin Luther King Day 2021 was once considered as the opening day for the 2020-21 NBA season. It was reportedly the date which the players preferred to start the 2020-21 NBA season before they agreed with the league’s proposal for a December 22 Opening night. As with the traditional NBA schedule, the 2021 MLK Day schedule is loaded. The upcoming MLK Day schedule has a total of 10 games on hand and it will be headlined by a showdown between Steph Curry’s Warriors and LBJ’s Lakers.
It will also feature a showdown between the Bucks and the Nets who have the two best odds to win the 2021 Eastern Conference title. As of the latest SportsBetting.ag odds, the Bucks are the odds on favorite to become East champions at +250 while the Nets are a close second at +300. That game is the second-nationally televised game on MLK Day.
The MLK Day’s TV curtain-raiser will be the Memphis Grizzlies hosting the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix has made a splash during this offseason as they have acquired Chris Paul to pair with the rising sun Devin Booker in the starting backcourt. The Suns also made moves to acquire Jae Crowder and E’Twaun Moore to bolster their lineup.
The number of nationally televised NBA games by team.
(via @basketballtalk) pic.twitter.com/2ROSfKjaTb
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) December 5, 2020
There’s no question that LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant are the most popular players in the NBA today. So it didn’t come as a surprise when the Los Angeles, Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Brooklyn Nets were given the most national TV exposure in the first half schedule.
The defending champions Lakers lead the way with a total of 21 national-televised games for the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season.That number would represent 58.33% of a possible 36-game schedule. Meanwhile, the Warriors and Nets will each have 19 nationally-televised games apiece, which includes their opening day showdown at Barclays Center.
The Miami Heat, L.A. Clippers, and Dallas Mavericks come in next with 16 nationally-televised games each. Miami is the defending East champions while the Clippers are still considered as the Lakers’ top threats at +325 to win the West. The Mavs meanwhile, are led by Luka Doncic who is currently the +300 betting favorite to win 2021 NBA MVP honors.