The 2020-21 NBA season will tip off with a doubleheader on Dec. 22, featuring the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors in the first game and the champion Los Angeles Lakers and crosstown rival Los Angeles Clippers continuing their rivalry to close out opening night.
From there, the Wednesday night slate will feature two potential playoff previews. The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics will kick off the evening, and then Chris Paul will make his Phoenix Suns debut in a battle with the Dallas Mavericks.
The league released their Christmas Day schedule as well. The day will begin with the Miami Heat hosting Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. The battle of the two-time MVPs follows, with Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors battling Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Kyrie Irving will then play his first game in Boston as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, and the headliner will be a duel between LeBron James and Luka Doncic, as the defending champion Lakers host the up-and-coming Mavericks. The evening closes with a second-round rematch between the Clippers and the Denver Nuggets.
The league is planning on releasing the schedule in portions, to allow for flexibility for make-up games if needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the league finished the 2019-20 season safely inside a bubble environment down in Orlando, the NBA is opting to compete the upcoming season in each team’s home market.
While the turnaround between the ending of last season and the start date for this new one is the quickest in league history, the NBA wanted to get back on its traditional schedule as much as possible going forward, and wanted to wrap up the season before the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in the summer. In order to do that, the league reduced the number of regular-season games from 82 to 72, and postponed All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis to 2024.