NBA Schedule

2020/21 NBA First-Half Schedules By Team

The NBA has officially unveiled its schedule of games and national broadcasts for the first half of the 2020/21 season. As previously reported, the season will tip off with a Nets vs. Warriors and Clippers vs. Lakers doubleheader on Tuesday, December 22.

The first half of the regular season will run through March 4. The schedule for the second half of the season (March 11 to May 16) will be released during the latter part of the first half, according to the league. The goal is to maintain scheduling flexibility to account for possible coronavirus-related postponements and/or cancellations.

In the first half, each team will play either 37 or 38 games, including between 17 and 20 home games. In a number of instances, teams will play the same opponent in the same arena in back-to-back games in order to reduce travel.

Listed below are links to the first-half 2020/21 schedules for each NBA team, organized by conference and division:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic Division

Central Division

Southeast Division


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Northwest Division

Pacific Division

Southwest Division

NBA Opening Night To Feature Lakers/Clippers, Nets/Warriors

2:20pm: The NBA has confirmed the opening night games detailed below, as well as the previously-reported Christmas Day schedule. The league also said that the Bucks will play the Celtics in Boston on December 23 (TNT), followed by the Mavericks playing the Suns in Phoenix (ESPN).

The full first-half schedule will be announced on Friday, December 4, according to the NBA.


10:47am: The tentative schedule for the NBA’s opening night TNT doubleheader on December 22 will see the Nets host the Warriors, followed by the Lakers and Clippers facing off in Los Angeles, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

All four teams are scheduled to be in action on Christmas Day as well, with the Warriors visiting Milwaukee, the Nets playing in Boston, the Lakers hosting the Mavericks, and the Clippers playing in Denver.

However, the two opening night matchups are arguably more intriguing than those December 25 games. The first game of the night will see Kevin Durant make his Nets debut against his old team, while the late game will be the battle of Los Angeles that we didn’t get to see in last season’s Western Conference Finals.

With opening night less than three weeks away, the NBA is expected to officially announce its schedule any day now. The league will reportedly just reveal the first half of the 2020/21 schedule for the time being, with the second-half schedule to be announced at some point in the new year. The NBA wants to maintain scheduling flexibility due to possible COVID-19 complications.

Lakers, Celtics Among Teams Hosting Christmas Day Games

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets that the NBA has set its Christmas Day schedule for 2020/21.

Woj emphasizes that the currently starry five games scheduled are “tentative.” That’s likely due to the risk of COVID-19 cases preventing certain contests, rather than the league continuing to finalize the schedule.

ESPN reporters Andrew Lopez, Eric Woodyard, Nick Friedell, Dave McMenamin, and Ohm Youngmisuk have weighed in on the five scheduled games.

Here’s the full list of anticipated Christmas Day matchups, per Woj’s reporting:

  • New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat, 12 p.m. EST
  • Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks, 2:30 p.m. EST
  • Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics, 5 pm. EST
  • Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. EST
  • Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. EST

All four 2020 conference finalists will be present, though none will be facing each other. The champion Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis and filled out by a revamped roster of role players, will host the Mavericks, looking to take a leap in the standings after rising superstar Luka Doncic‘s first All-Star season.

The Eastern Conference champion Heat, fronted by Jimmy Butler and newly-extended Bam Adebayo, will host another Western Conference club with a promising rep from the NBA’s next wave of superstars, the Pelicans and second-year forward Zion Williamson.

The Nuggets/Clippers matchup should feature plenty of fireworks, as Los Angeles faced ample scrutiny for letting go of the rope enough for Denver to climb all the way out of a 3-1 deficit to win their second-round matchup during the 2020 playoffs.

The Celtics will square off against the formidable Nets, piloted by a newly healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, will do battle with Durant’s old club, the Warriors, led by a former two-time MVP of their own in Stephen Curry. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have recorded league-leading regular season records, only to fall short of the Finals in the playoffs during each of the last two seasons. Milwaukee is no doubt hopeful that its offseason makeover will amend that. The Warriors, meanwhile, saw their championship hopes jeopardized after All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson incurred an Achilles tear that will sideline him for the entire season.

The Raptors, Rockets and Sixers, three perennial playoff clubs that (currently) have two All-Stars apiece, appear to be the biggest snubs this season, although the fate of Houston’s two All-Stars remains in flux.

Assuming every game happens as scheduled, which December 25 bout are you most excited for in 2020? Are there any teams or matchups you’re disappointed to see (or not see) listed? Let us know what you think in our comments section!

NBA Announces 2020 Preseason Schedule

The NBA has officially released the full schedule for its 2020 preseason, which will tip off on Friday, December 11. The preseason slate features 49 total games and runs through Saturday, December 19.

As the league explains in its press release, every team will play at least one home game and one road game. There are some clubs playing as many as four games, while others just play two or three.

The full schedule, which begins with a five-game slate that include a Lakers/Clippers matchup, can be found right here.

The NBA indicated in its announcement that the schedule for the first half of the 2020/21 regular season (December 22 through March 4) will be released “in the coming days.” The schedule for the second half (March 11 to May 16) will be announced during the latter portion of the first-half schedule, according to the league.

Details On 2020/21 Season, Play-In Tournament Announced By NBA

The NBA has announced details on the revamped schedule for the 2020/21 season, including a confirmation that there will be a play-in tournament between the No. 7-10 seeds in both conferences for the first time (Twitter link).

The league has noted that it will release the dates for its individual game schedule in two portions. The NBA did release its plan for the schedule in a matrix grid, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link), though it will not announce the specific dates of its matchups until “around the start of training camp.” The second half of 2020/21 is set to be announced during the season’s first half.

Still, we now know several of the nuances for the NBA’s 75th season. For the 72 regular season games in this truncated season, teams will play three games against all teams within their own conference, and two against teams in the other conference.

Here are the set dates for the NBA season as they stand presently:

  • December 11-19, 2020: Preseason
  • December 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: The first half of the NBA’s regular season
  • March 5-10, 2021: The NBA All-Star break
  • March 11 – May 16, 2021: The second half of the regular season
  • May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament
  • May 22 – July 22, 2021: NBA Playoffs

The league went on to note that the second half of the season, set to commence after the All-Star break concludes on March 11, 2021, will not only include the scheduled games, but also “any games postponed [due to COVID-19 issues] during the first half that can reasonably be added to the second half schedule.”

As for the play-in tournament, it’ll pit the seventh- and eighth-best teams in each conference against one another, with the winner earning the No. 7 seed. The loser of that game will face the winner of a matchup between the ninth- and 10th-best teams. The winner of that contest will become the No. 8 seed.

Trade Moratorium To Be Lifted At Noon ET Monday

The NBA is a little more than 24 hours away from allowing teams to start making trades, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Sources tell Woj that the moratorium will end at 12:00 pm eastern time on Monday, giving teams a small window to complete deals before Wednesday night’s draft.

The league has also established some important dates for the upcoming season, Wojnarowski adds, with opening night set for December 22 as expected (Twitter link). An All-Star break will take place from March 5-10, although no game will be played.

The regular season is projected to end between May 17 and 21 with a play-in tournament to determine seeds seven through 10. The conference semifinals will begin June 7, with the conference finals starting June 22 and the NBA Finals set for July 8-22. The trade deadline hasn’t been determined yet, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

The play-in tournament must be approved by the Board of Governors, but a source tells Wojnarowski that’s considered a formality (Twitter link). As with the series in Orlando between the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies, the No. 7 and 8 seeds will just need one win to advance, while the ninth and 10th seeds would have to win twice. May 17-21 are the tentative dates for the tournament.

As expected, this year’s salary cap ($109.1MM) and luxury tax figures ($132.6MM) will be maintained for next season (Twitter link). According to Woj’s sources, the early cap and tax projections for future seasons are $112.4MM and $136.6MM for 2021/22, $115.7MM and $140MM for 2022/23 and $119.2MM and $144.9MM for 2023/24 (Twitter link).

In addition, the league and its players union have reached a deal that either side can terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement after next season or the 2021/22 season, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Both sides already had a mutual option to terminate the CBA after the 2022/23 season.

December 21 will be the last day for players to sign super-max and rookie scale extensions, Marks tweets. That deadline is especially significant in Milwaukee, where the Bucks hope to reach a long-term deal with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Most player and team option decisions throughout the league will have to be made by 5:00 pm ET Thursday, a source tells Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). A prominent exception appears to be Anthony Davis of the Lakers, who may have to decide on his $28.75MM player option by Monday.

NBA Targeting Mid-December Preseason

The NBA is targeting December 11-19 for a potential 2020/21 preseason, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Teams would have the option of requesting three or four games, with each franchise being required to host at least one contest.

The proposed timetable would finish three days before the start of the regular season on December 22. The idea of having a shortened preseason — or no preseason — had caused concern for some players and agents in terms of preventing injuries, with several teams not playing since March.

On the flip side, teams such as the Lakers and Heat are set to receive an offseason that spans less than two months. Teams that play in the NBA Finals traditionally receive a three-month offseason, with those eliminated in previous rounds getting more time off.

Other key dates for the 2020/21 season include November 18 (draft), November 20 (free agency begins), November 22 (players can sign contracts) and December 1 (training camps officially begin).

Community Shootaround: 72-Game Schedule

For decades, there have been complaints that the NBA’s season is too long. Playing 82 games dilutes the product, critics claim, and lessens the importance of each one. It also creates a marathon atmosphere that presents a high risk of injury and causes players to sometimes seem unmotivated.

People who have wanted to see the league try a shorter schedule are about to get their wish. After the chaos caused last season by the pandemic, the NBA and its players union have agreed to take steps toward a normal timeline by adopting a 72-game schedule that will start December 22.

Details on how those 72 games will be allocated still have to be worked out. The NBA hopes to reduce travel during the upcoming season, so games between teams from the Eastern and Western conferences could be reduced or even eliminated. An All-Star break is still expected in March, although it hasn’t been determined if it will include normal All-Star Weekend activities. A play-in tournament could also be adopted.

If the upcoming season is successful, the league may attempt to keep the shorter schedule, writes Jabari Young of CNBC.

“I would argue, with a leap of faith, that we’ll never see 82 again,” said Tony Ponturo, CEO of Ponturo Management Group, a marketing consulting firm. “It’s going to be better across the board of quality basketball and healthier athletes. You take the (revenue) hit and figure out how to make it up in other ways.”

Young also cites comments from NBA president of operations Byron Spruell, who suggested at the Disney World complex that the league would be open to schedule changes if they result in a better product. Another idea being considered is adopting series schedules, much like Major League Baseball, to make road trips less exhausting.

“Having this experience around being on a campus, with health and safety first – there are a lot of learnings that make you think about,” Spruell said in August. “Is there something in between given where the pandemic might be next season, given the experience we’re seeing from our teams and players in this campus format? Is there something in between that we’ll be able to accomplish, too?”

The obvious concern with a shorter schedule is the lost revenue as each team has five fewer home games. Young cites several ways to make up the difference, including higher ticket prices as games become more scarce, increased revenue from the play-in games and additional sponsorship opportunities.

We want to get your opinion. Do you believe there would be a noticeable difference in the quality of play with a permanent 72-game schedule or would you prefer to see the league continue with its traditional 82-game slate? Please leave your answer in the comments section.

NBPA Approves December 22 Start For 2020/21 Season

The National Basketball Players Association board of representatives voted on Thursday night in a favor of an NBA proposal to start the 2020/21 regular season on December 22 and play a 72-game schedule, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

A number of players had been advocating for a later opening night, given how long the 2019/20 season ran, and January 18 was the other start date being considered. However, the NBA estimated that a pre-Christmas start would save up to $500MM and $1 billion in revenue, and a mid-January start would have resulted in a shorter season (around 60 games). As a result, the players ultimately came around on the league’s plan.

The result of the NBPA’s vote doesn’t make the December 22 start date official. As the union indicated in a statement confirming the news, there are still additional financial and logistical details to be negotiated. However, both sides are confident that agreements can be reached on those issues.

As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, determining what portion of player salaries will be placed into escrow is one important issue the NBA and NBPA need to resolve. According to Charania, the two sides are discussing an escrow in the 17-18% range for player salaries over the next two years, in the hopes that that amount can be reduced to the usual 10% by 2022/23. That would help cushion the blow of the lost revenues for players, spreading the hit over multiple seasons rather than having them bear the brunt of it in ’20/21.

Negotiations between the NBA and NBPA on that subject and other financial issues are expected to extend into next week, sources tell Wojnarowski. Once the two sides reach a formal agreement, the league can lift its moratorium on transactions, allowing teams to conduct trades and other roster moves before the November 18 draft. The transaction freeze is expected to end by November 16, per Charania.

The league and the union hope to open free agency as quickly as possible after the draft, since there will be a very short window before teams have to open training camps on December 1, says Wojnarowski. The start date for free agency still isn’t official, but seems likely to fall within two or three days of the draft.

The salary cap for the 2020/21 season is expected to remain unchanged, with the NBA and NBPA artificially setting at $109.141MM despite projected revenue losses. The league and the union are discussing the possibility of agreeing to have the cap increase by 2% annually for the remainder of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, per Charania (Twitter link). That would mean a cap of $111.324MM for the ’21/22 campaign.

Meanwhile, the league and the union will also have to agree to a set of safety and health protocols as they look to play the 2020/21 season in teams’ respective home arenas rather than in a single-site bubble, even as the number of coronavirus cases around the U.S. continues to rise. Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were among the players who said on Thursday’s call that they want to view the official health and safety measures before fully committing to the season, sources tell Charania.

According to a Thursday report, there’s hope that – at least in some markets – fans will be able to attend games in person with limited capacities and strict safety regulations in place. If that’s possible, it would help offset some of the league’s projected revenue losses.

The NBA will have to decide soon where the Raptors will be playing in ’20/21, since there are still significant restrictions in place on cross-border travel between the U.S. and Canada. Newark has been one of several cities discussed as a possibility.

While the league hasn’t yet finalized a schedule for 2020/21, Charania previously reported that the expectation is the season will run from December 22 through mid-May, with the NBA Finals finishing around July 22, just in time for the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

The league is expected to reduce teams’ travel by 25% and there will likely be a six-day All-Star break in early March, though it’s not clear if an All-Star Game will actually be played. The NBA is also hoping to conduct a play-in tournament for the final two seeds in each conference.

NBA, NBPA Moving Toward Agreement On December 22 Start

The NBA’s Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association will hold separate calls on Thursday that are expected to culminate in an agreement on a December 22 start date for the 2020/21 regular season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.

As Shams Charania of The Athletic previously reported, the NBPA is expected to vote before the end of the week on the league’s December 22 proposal. Wojnarowski and Lowe say that vote will likely take place on Thursday night and that everything is progressing toward a deal between the NBA and the players’ union.

Per Woj and Lowe, the union is holding team conference calls prior to Thursday night – including several today – to provide details on the plan for 2020/21, including how the salary escrow will work going forward.

As Charania reported on Wednesday and as ESPN’s duo confirms, rather than holding a significant percentage (25-40%) of players’ salaries in escrow for ’20/21, the modified escrow figure is expected to be around 18% and will be applied to multiple seasons, smoothing out the losses for players.

Since the NBA and its players split revenue roughly 50/50 and the league is projecting a significant revenue decline for ’20/21, increasing the salary escrow is necessary to account for the losses from the players’ side.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), an 18% escrow for next season would withhold about $720MM from the players, not counting the reduced pay based on a 72-game schedule instead of an 82-game slate. The league and the union are still negotiating that 18% figure though, Woj and Lowe note.

Once the NBA and NBPA reach an agreement on the salary cap, escrow, season start date, and all the other major aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that need to be tweaked, the transaction moratorium can be lifted and dates for free agency can officially be set.

As Charania detailed on Wednesday, a 72-game season that starts on December 22 is expected to end around mid-May, with the Finals finishing around July 22, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. The NBA is planning for a 25% reduction in travel, with a six-day All-Star break in early March. Training camps would open on or around December 1.

A number of players had been advocating for a later opening night, given how long the 2019/20 season ran, and January 18 was the other start date being considered. However, as Lakers forward Jared Dudley explained today during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Frank Isola (audio link), the NBA’s proposal of a December 22 start date and 72-game season is the only option that makes financial sense for players.

“We’ll vote on it, but to be honest with you, there’s no real vote. No one’s playing 55 games. We’ve got to play 72,” Dudley said. “It’s the money thing.”

The NBA has estimated that starting the season before Christmas will save upwards of $500MM to $1 billion in future revenue, per ESPN and other outlets.