The NBA is coming back with a bang for the 2021-22 season. Here are the games we can’t wait to see next season.
The nba 2021-22 season is the upcoming NBA schedule for the 2021-22 season. This year will be an exciting one, with some of the most anticipated matchups in recent history.
The NBA schedule is now out. And, unlike last season’s presentation, which divided games into first and second halves, we now have a complete list of all 1,230 games.
The reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks visit the Brooklyn Nets on ring night to kick off the 2021-22 season on Oct. 19. Kevin Durant was inches away from taking the Nets to the Finals the last time these two Eastern Conference giants met, culminating to an incredible Game 7 overtime thriller won by Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Following the Nets-Bucks game, the Los Angeles Lakers will debut their new Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook — or Big Four if you add new Laker Carmelo Anthony — against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.
The first week of the 2021-22 season, as well as the whole season, is jam-packed with rekindled rivalries, reunions, and playoff rematches. Here are some of the games we’re looking forward to seeing.
The NBA’s five Christmas Day games, which were announced on Tuesday, are not included in our list of games to watch.
MORE: What we’re looking forward to seeing on Christmas Day
The must-see openers of the first week
In a memorable seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo faced battle. On opening night, they’re back at it. USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Hanisch
The Brooklyn Nets take on the Milwaukee Bucks on October 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
This game is the ideal way to kick off the season, serving as a simulated Game 8 of their historic playoff battle, the winner of which went on to win the title. The two teams’ stars have a history of throwing subtle jabs at one another, with James Harden recently claiming that the Nets can’t be defeated if they’re healthy. And, with “best player in the NBA” debates raging, we get an early look at Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kevin Durant. Snellings, André
The Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19 at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.
This matchup includes clubs and players that have won five of the six NBA titles between 2015 and 2020, and both teams have championship hopes this season after being hampered by significant injuries last season. For the first time since the 2019 Finals, the Warriors will have three cornerstones of their dynasty if Klay Thompson returns healthy. The Lakers will unveil a new look with a squad full of potential Hall of Famers learning to play together, spurred by Russell Westbrook’s first appearance with his hometown club. Snellings –
7:30 p.m. ET | TNT | Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Luka Doncic and Trae Young were traded for each other at the 2018 NBA Draft, and as a result, their names will forever be connected in the public eye. Young has put the Hawks on his shoulders and just led them to an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals. Doncic went on to win Rookie of the Year and become an MVP candidate early, but Young has put the Hawks on his shoulders and just led them to an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals. Another chapter in a burgeoning next-gen rivalry is written with this encounter. Snellings –
Milwaukee Bucks at. Miami Heat, 8 p.m., Oct. 21. ET
The Heat were in the NBA Finals less than a year ago, and their greatest weakness may have been the lack of a star, playmaking point guard capable of leading the team and making huge shots in high-pressure situations. Enter NBA champion Kyle Lowry, who, according to statistics, is one of the greatest point guards of his generation and has a style and attitude that fits right in with the Heat’s culture. It will be fascinating to watch how this new Heat team performs and if they have what it takes to make another run at the title. Snellings –
7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN | Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Last season, these two teams were the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the Eastern Conference, and they both had championship hopes. They also offer a significant stylistic contrast, with the Nets’ perimeter-based Big Three confronting the individual, inside domination of Joel Embiid, perhaps the greatest center in the NBA. In addition, the hot issue of whether Ben Simmons will remain with the 76ers when the season starts will be addressed. Snellings –
The New Orleans Pelicans will face the Chicago Bulls on October 22nd at 8 p.m. ET.
The Bulls made a splash this summer by bringing in Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, immediately after making one of the greatest trade deadline moves by acquiring center Nikola Vucevic. The effectiveness of the Bulls’ acquisitions was questioned in an offseason ESPN poll, but the product on the floor should be interesting to watch develop. When you factor in the potential of Ball tossing half-court alley-oops to Zach LaVine against his old club, this should be an exciting debut. Snellings –
The Phoenix Suns take on the Los Angeles Lakers on October 22nd at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The Suns advanced to the NBA Finals after defeating the Lakers in the first round. It’s safe to assume LeBron James and Anthony Davis haven’t forgotten about it. The reigning Western Conference champions, on the other hand, are once again flying under the radar after the Lakers’ major summer. The matchup between Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul is always exciting, and Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will be keen to prove that their first-round victory over the struggling Lakers was no fluke. — Youngmisuk Ohm
More must-see playoff rematches have been announced.
On February 10, 2022, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker will battle in the NBA Finals. NBA/Getty Images/Andrew D. Bernstein
Denver Nuggets at. Phoenix Suns | ESPN | Oct. 20, 10 p.m. ET
As the Suns swept the Nuggets out of the playoffs last season, the slogan was “Suns in 4” This time around, the battle should be a little more even. Although Denver point guard Jamal Murray will be out due to ACL surgery, the Nuggets were coping with an injury to shooting guard Will Barton last spring and added first-round pick Bones Hyland to their backcourt mix to challenge Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Kevin Pelton (KP)
7:30 p.m. ET | NBA TV | Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The major concern for this rematch in the playoffs is whether Ben Simmons will be there. According to NBA Advanced Stats, Simmons struggled in the critical moments in Philadelphia’s seven-game shock defeat to Atlanta, making just one field goal and scoring four points in 14 crucial minutes. Simmons’ future with the 76ers was jeopardized as a result of that performance and the response to it. Midway through the offseason, it’s still unsolved. Pelton’s words
The Dallas Mavericks will face the Los Angeles Clippers on November 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Luka Doncic threw the Clippers for a loop in the first round, forcing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to play seven games before losing. In the playoffs, Doncic looked like a superstar, and under new head coach Jason Kidd, he may be in line for an MVP-type season. The Mavericks will want to show the Clippers that they are ready to pass them in the standings and in the playoffs this season, but Paul George and Reggie Jackson will have their say. Youngmisuk’s remark
The Phoenix Suns take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
Patrick Beverley pushed Chris Paul in anger before Paul celebrated his first trip to the NBA Finals the last time we watched Suns-Clippers. While Beverley is away, Paul George and the Clippers have unfinished business with the Suns, having ran out of steam and health towards the conclusion of their playoff run. If Kawhi Leonard had remained healthy, George believes the Clippers would have advanced to the NBA Finals instead of the Suns. The Clippers will be able to see where they stand without Leonard in this rematch. Youngmisuk’s remark
The Los Angeles Clippers take on the Utah Jazz on December 15 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.
When we last saw the Jazz, they had given up an unfathomable 81 points in the second half of a season-ending defeat to a Clippers team sans Kawhi Leonard, which was more points than the Clippers would manage in the whole Game 4 of the conference finals. If Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue refuses to depend as much on the small-ball groups that gave Utah defensive issues in the first meeting, the rematch may be a different story. Pelton’s words
10 p.m. ET | TNT | Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks
If it seems like it was just a month ago that we were watching the NBA Finals between Milwaukee and Phoenix, that’s because it was. Before returning to play, the two finalists will have a very brief winter vacation. We’ll see how the Suns react after dropping their previous four games after establishing a 2-0 series lead against the Bucks, and if Giannis Antetokounmpo’s matchup advantages hold up with a little different supporting cast. Pelton’s words
You need to watch more L.A. games, according to Hollywood drama.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers NBA TV | Nov. 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Before the Blazers offered him a shot for the 2019-20 season, Carmelo Anthony was on his way out of the NBA. Anthony’s career was rejuvenated after he arrived in Portland, where he had his greatest and third-best 3-point shooting seasons. Last season, Anthony shot 40.9 percent from outside the arc for the first time in his career, while playing on the bench for the first time. With the Lakers, Anthony will have a different position, but one that he would not have had without Portland’s assistance. Lopez, Andrew
7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN | Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
In a highly anticipated game, the NBA’s most recent champions face off. Giannis Antetokounmpo will meet LeBron James, the defending champion and Finals MVP, for the first time in his illustrious career. The Bucks’ top three of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday will defend their title against James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony, who will lead the Lakers’ new offense. This, too, might be a preview of the Finals, and who knows, maybe Antetokounmpo and James will decide who had the better Finals chase-down block. Youngmisuk’s remark
The Los Angeles Clippers take on the Los Angeles Lakers on December 3 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Following his ACL injury, Kawhi Leonard is likely to miss a considerable amount of time, and top Laker agitator Patrick Beverley is no longer with the team, which takes a lot of the zing out of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry. While Leonard is sidelined, though, Paul George will do all he can to keep the Clippers in the postseason chase, and head coach Tyronn Lue’s squad will be eager to demonstrate the rebuilt Lakers why they ended just two victories short of the NBA Finals even without Leonard. Youngmisuk’s remark
The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Brooklyn Nets on January 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
On Christmas Day, this possible Finals preview is the ultimate present, but the juggernauts’ second meeting this season might be just as crucial. And the two sides have a long history together. There are so many layers to unravel, whether it’s Russell Westbrook taking on old colleagues Kevin Durant and James Harden or LeBron James taking on Irving. Last season, Westbrook had some of his finest performances against the Nets, including a 41-point, 10-rebound effort in which he stunned Brooklyn with a late 3-pointer. Youngmisuk’s remark
Thank you for returning! There will be more reunions to watch.
On Feb. 3, 2022, guard Kyle Lowry will play in Toronto for the first time in 706 days. Getty Images/Scott Audette/NBAE
Miami Heat against. Indiana Pacers | NBA TV | Oct. 23, 7 p.m. ET
Since being moved (again) last season, Victor Oladipo’s tenure in Indiana came to an abrupt end, and the veteran has yet to play a game against his old club. Injury has restricted Oladipo to only 88 games in the last three seasons, but he’ll attempt to resurrect his career in Miami on a one-year contract. Lopez’s words
The Minnesota Timberwolves will face the Los Angeles Clippers on November 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET.
If Patrick Beverley stays in Minnesota after being traded from the Clippers to Memphis and then to the Timberwolves, the Timberwolves’ return to Staples Center will be emotional. With his energy, defense, and outspoken leadership, Beverley became one of the Clippers’ all-time fan favorites. For many years, Beverley was the team’s soul, and his return to Staples will be a sight to see, particularly if he gets under the Clippers’ skin as he did their opponents. Youngmisuk’s remark
The New York Knicks take on the Boston Celtics on December 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET. | NBA Network
The Celtics handed Kemba Walker a four-year, $140.8 million contract when he was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets in the summer of 2019. He was expected to return the Celtics to the NBA Finals as the point guard. Injuries plagued him for the next two seasons, and he was eventually moved to Oklahoma City. Walker’s contract was bought out by the Thunder, allowing him to return to his hometown of New York to sign with the Knicks on a much more team-friendly deal. Lopez’s words
The Brooklyn Nets will face the San Antonio Spurs on January 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Another Spurs homecoming to watch will be when Patty Mills returns to the AT&T Center with the Nets. The Aussie point guard spent the previous 10 seasons in San Antonio — the final holdover from the Spurs’ last title in 2014. Expect a hearty ovation for Mills as he returns to town. — Lopez
San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls Monday, January 28th, 8:30 p.m. ET
In order to go over the hump in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls acquired DeMar DeRozan from the Spurs. In San Antonio, DeRozan didn’t achieve the team success he desired, failing to win a playoff series in his debut season before missing the playoffs the next two seasons. In San Antonio, he excelled as a playmaker, averaging 6.2 assists per game, more than twice his Toronto average. Lopez’s words
Golden State Warriors vs. Brooklyn Nets Monday, January 29th, 8:30 p.m. ET | ABC
Last season, Kevin Durant faced the Warriors in San Francisco, but he did so while no supporters were permitted inside the Chase Center. It’ll be a bit different this time around. It will be the clubs’ second encounter in the 2021-22 season, but the first in San Francisco since Durant and Draymond Green blamed Steve Kerr and Bob Myers for mishandling the issue that led to Durant’s departure. Lopez’s words
7:30 p.m. ET | TNT | Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors
When the Miami Heat visit Toronto to face the Raptors, it will be one of the most anticipated reunions in the league. It will mark Kyle Lowry’s return to Canada. Lowry went to Miami this summer after nine seasons in Toronto. The Raptors didn’t play any home games last season, so Lowry’s return to Toronto will be 706 days after his last appearance there (Feb. 28, 2019). Lopez’s words
The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Washington Wizards at 8 p.m. on March 19. ET
While Russell Westbrook’s season in Washington was noteworthy because he broke Oscar Robertson’s triple-double record, this reunion will be more significant for a few new Wizards. Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will be eager to play against their former club for the first time in order to remind the Lakers of what they gave up in exchange for Westbrook. Kuzma, in particular, should be fired up to demonstrate why the Lakers refused to trade him in exchange for all of their bright prospects a few seasons ago. Youngmisuk’s remark
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Chicago Bulls, March 24, 8 p.m. ET
“I wanted to go someplace I’m respected and can play my game,” Lonzo Ball said in his first press conference with Chicago. “Chicago is the ideal location for that.” In New Orleans, Ball surrendered some half-court authority to Zion Williamson and was limited to more of a 3-and-D player. Will he be able to play with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine again in Chicago? That will have to wait and see, but his first game against his old club should be entertaining to watch. Lopez’s words
The NBA’s Biggest Rookie Debuts and Showdowns
During their stay in Las Vegas, the top two selections in the 2021 NBA draft put on a show. Getty Images/Ethan Miller
The Chicago Bulls will face the Detroit Pistons on October 20 at 7 p.m. ET.
The NBA debut of the No. 1 overall selection implies a lot of firsts for what might be one of the game’s future all-time greats: first basket, first assist, first dunk. Essentially, it’s an NBA Top Shot bonanza of possibilities. With his outstanding height, strong build, and polished game, Cade Cunningham’s game is designed for the NBA, so there’s a possibility he sets a high standard in his debut appearance for Detroit.
Royce Young Royce Young
The Houston Rockets will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on October 20 at 8 p.m. ET.
The number two overall selection Jalen Green is the most exciting athlete in the draft, with a likeable swagger to go along with his tremendous athletic ability. His summer league screamed of him being the kind of player you couldn’t look away from, and with such unshakable faith in his own ability, you can bet he’ll want to make a statement in his debut game with the Rockets.
7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN | Detroit Pistons vs. Houston Rockets
This game pits the No. 1 overall selection against the No. 2 pick, with the additional benefit of Cade Cunningham of Detroit and Jalen Green of Houston participating in the backcourt, ensuring some head-to-head action. While Cunningham was widely expected to be the first selection from the start of the draft, Green made a late push for consideration. And now that Green has a chance to face off against Cunningham, the game has a wonderful story built into it.
The Toronto Raptors will face the Golden State Warriors on November 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Jonathan Kuminga was considered a top-four certainty before the draft, one of the elite players who made this class look so exceptional. However, when his stock fell somewhat, Scottie Barnes’ soared in its place. Kuminga of the Warriors is a nightly highlight waiting to happen, while Barnes of the Rockets is a reliable five-tool player. This is a game of opposing styles, and there will undoubtedly be some takeaways from it.
The Orlando Magic will face the Houston Rockets on December 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
The Battle of the Jalens is more than a battle between Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green; it’s a matchup between two of the draft’s most competitive players. Suggs surged up draft boards as a dark-horse top-pick possibility after his rowdy Final Four performance, but he fell to the Magic at No. 5 overall (slipped being a pretty loose description here). Suggs’ energy and drive are trademarks of his game, and he’ll have a point to make against Green, the Rockets’ second-round pick.
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