NBA Preseason 2021: Schedule and Predictions for Remaining Marquee Games
Information can come fast and often during the NBA preseason.
How are rotations taking shape? How do players look on their new teams? Which rookies seem to be handling the transition best?
All of these questions and more are worth analyzing, but for many fans, the best thing that happens during the exhibition slate is simply the return of the Association's best.
You may have heard a time or two million, but this is a star-driven league. And after a summer hibernation, it's been a minute since we could soak in all that these stars bring to the hardwood.
But the wait is no more, and all hoop junkies should celebrate that. And that's what we're doing here, in fact, by following the upcoming preseason schedule with a preview (and prediction) of two of the best, star-studded matchups on the slate.
Upcoming Preseason Schedule
Tuesday, Oct. 5
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
Wednesday, Oct. 6
San Antonio Spurs at Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m. ET
Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET
Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET
Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors, 10 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns, 10 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Thursday, Oct. 7
Memphis Grizzlies at Charlotte Hornets, 7 p.m. ET
Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Miami Heat at Houston Rockets, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Friday, Oct. 8
Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 p.m. ET
Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBATV)
New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET
Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors, 10 p.m. ET (NBATV)
Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets | Friday, Oct. 8
The defending champs vs. the odds-on favorite.
Today's top small-market squad vs. the latest (and maybe greatest) superstar-laden, major-market powerhouse.
Yes, we are very interested to see this one.
All unbiased previews of the Eastern Conference should probably conclude that the conference champion will play in this contest. That doesn't mean it's guaranteed to happen, of course, but these are the best two teams on paper.
Milwaukee, which hasn't had a winning percentage south of .630 in the past three seasons, just captured its second-ever world title; Brooklyn, which just set the new high mark for offensive efficiency, is a strong favorite to win its first.
If all of that isn't enough to convince you to watch (NBATV will televise the tilt), these two teams locked horns for an epic collision in the conference semis that went all seven games—and overtime of the seventh.
Predicting the action is tricky, since it's never certain who will suit up in the preseason. The Nets, for instance, sat all their superstars for their preseason opener. But since the Bucks went further in the playoffs, and Antetokounmpo recently said he's still feeling knee soreness, we'll say the Nets are likeliest to let their stars play and therefore likeliest to win the game.
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers | Tuesday, Oct. 12
These two teams met in the play-in tournament last season. This year, there's a chance they do battle in the Western Conference Finals.
That would be a massive turnaround, obviously, but it doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to see it happening.
The Lakers looked like the best in the West last season before the injury bug started bothering LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They've had a full offseason to recover and now have Russell Westbrook alongside them.
The Warriors weren't great from a team perspective in 2020-21, but they got great seasons out of Stephen Curry (third in MVP voting) and Draymond Green (third in Defensive Player of the Year voting). They also closed that campaign by winning 15 of their final 23 contests. They don't have Klay Thompson back just yet, but they did add a pair of lottery picks in Jonathan Kuminga (No. 7) and Moses Moody (No. 14).
It's hard to say how meaningful Warriors-Lakers matchups will be this season without knowing how Thompson will look upon his return and what Westbrook can add in L.A. Having said that, any clash between Curry and James is a can't-miss moment.
Since Golden State has more young talent to develop and L.A. might want an early shot at getting its veteran stars familiar with one another, the Lakers should have a chance to sweep their two preseason meetings with the Dubs.