2021 NBA Schedule Release: Start Time, Date and More for Full Release

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 17, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo smiles while holding the NBA Championship trophy, left, and Most Valuable Player trophy after defeating the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals in Milwaukee, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The Bucks won 105-98. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

After another abbreviated offseason, the 2021-22 NBA schedule is close to being released. 

The league confirmed it will unveil the full regular-season schedule and broadcast schedule for games that will air on TNT, ESPN, ABC, NBA TV and ESPN Radio on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.

Even though fans still have to wait to find out the official matchups, it's already known that the season will begin on Oct. 19.

The NBA did give fans a tease on Tuesday with the unveiling of national television matchups for the first week of the regular season, as well as the five-game Christmas Day schedule. 

Tim Reynolds @ByTimReynolds

Here's all the opening week national TV and Christmas games: https://t.co/OiH6lq7fcy

Here is all of the information to get you ready for the schedule release, as well as some of the things to keep an eye on once the season begins. 


2021-22 NBA Schedule Release Info

Date: Friday, Aug. 20

Time: 3 p.m. ET

Watch: TBD


Key Storylines to Watch

The 82-Game Season Is Back


The 2021-22 regular season will run Oct. 19, 2021 – April 10, 2022. The 2022 NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sun., Feb. 20 in Cleveland and air on TNT. The 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament will be held April 12-15, followed by the start of the 2022 NBA Playoffs on Sat., April 16. https://t.co/2I1QxRe6cc

For the first time since 2018-19, the NBA is planning to get back to a traditional season. This includes all 30 teams playing 82 games, with the regular season running from Oct. 19 to April 10. 

The offseason from the end of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers to the start of the 2020-21 regular season lasted a total of 71 days.

The 2020-21 campaign will have wrapped up 92 days before the start of this season.

Going back to a traditional calendar will likely benefit players and teams since the schedule will be spread out over a longer period of time than it was last season when the league fit 72 games into 146 days. 

In addition to the normal schedule, there could be a sense of normalcy in every arena. By the time last season ended, all 30 teams allowed at least a percentage of fans to attend games in person. 

ESPN's Baxter Holmes reported in April the league was planning to allow full capacity at every arena for the 2021-22 season. 

It's unclear at this point if the concerns with the coronavirus delta variant will alter those plans. 

The NBA will also have to make an official announcement about where the Toronto Raptors will play this season. They had to relocate to the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, for the 2020-21 season due to travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. 


Old Faces, New Places

The 2021 class of free agents wound up not being as deep as initially expected since a number of star players, including LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, signed long-term extensions prior to the start of last season. 

Even with some of the marquee names not available, there was no shortage of player movement during the offseason. 

The Lakers are going to be the most intriguing team to watch because of how they reshaped their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso are gone. 

They have been replaced by Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Malik Monk, Kendrick Nunn and Kent Bazemore. 

The Heat brought in Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris while also re-signing Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson to long-term extensions.

The New York Knicks hope that Kemba Walker will be their answer at point guard. They also signed Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose and Nerlens Noel while getting an extension done with Julius Randle. 

Missing the playoffs for four straight years didn't appear to sit well with Chicago Bulls management. They spent big money to bring in Caruso, Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan to join a nucleus that already had Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic. 

After a disappointing 2020-21 season, the Boston Celtics focused on adding more depth around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Walker was sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a trade for Al Horford and Moses Brown. 

Brown was flipped to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Josh Richardson. The Celtics also brought in Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando as part of a three-way trade with the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks. 

There are also old faces who stayed in the same place worth keeping a close eye on this season. Kawhi Leonard's status is a complete mystery after he underwent surgery in July to repair a partially torn ACL. 

Despite having a quality roster overall, led by Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers aren't a title contender without Leonard. 

After missing the past two seasons due to a torn ACL and torn Achilles, Klay Thompson appears to be on track to play for the Golden State Warriors. If he comes back as the player he was before the injuries, the Warriors have the potential to be a title contender in the Western Conference. 


Who Will Challenge the Bucks in the East?

Fresh off winning their first NBA title in 50 years, the Milwaukee Bucks took a conservative approach in free agency. They did bring back Bobby Portis and sign George Hill and Semi Ojeleye, but they let Tucker leave to join the Heat. 

Tucker was instrumental in Milwaukee's playoff run, particularly his defensive effort against Kevin Durant. He held the Brooklyn Nets star to 30.8 percent shooting from three-point range (8-of-26) as his primary defender in the seven-game series. 

The Bucks still have their trio of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday that will carry them through the regular season. 

But their path through the Eastern Conference looks to be much more difficult this season. The Nets top the list of potential challengers to the Bucks. When they had Kyrie Irving healthy in the playoffs, they beat Milwaukee in the first two games of the Eastern Conference semifinals, including a 125-86 victory in Game 2. 

The Philadelphia 76ers also look to be very good once again, though they still have to figure out what to do with Ben Simmons.

They did take care of another piece of business on Tuesday, with ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reporting Joel Embiid agreed to a four-year, $196 million extension that could keep him with the Sixers through the 2026-27 season. 

If the Celtics' offseason roster shuffling pays off, they have two superstars capable of carrying them a long way in the playoffs. 

The Atlanta Hawks, who lost to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals, are basically running things back with their 2020-21 team. Trae Young has solidified himself as a superstar, and Nate McMillan completely turned things around after replacing Lloyd Pierce as head coach on March 1. 

The Bulls and Knicks made aggressive moves in free agency to put themselves in the mix for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. They don't appear to be title contenders on paper, but things can change once we see how their chemistry develops in games. 


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