The NBA Board of Governors today approved a proposal to continue the Play-In Tournament for the 2021-22 season. The Play-In Tournament for the 2021-22 season, which was also agreed to by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), will follow the same format as the Play-In Tournament for the 2020-21 season. The teams that finish the regular season with the seventh-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will compete to fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference.
More on NBA Schedule
Below are some key dates for the 2021-22 season. • Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents (6 p.m. ET) • Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents (12:01 p.m. ET) • Aug. 8-17: MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas • Sept. 28, 2021: Training camp begins • Oct. 19, 2021: Regular season begins • April 10, 2022: Regular season concludes • April 12-15, 2022: Play-In Tournament • April 16, 2022: Playoffs begin • June 2, 2022: NBA Finals begin • June 19, 2022: Game 7 of NBA Finals (if necessary) • June 23, 2022: NBA Draft
Kyle Goon: The Lakers have the 2021-22 preseason schedule set. pic.twitter.com/iXJg4idAia
Shams Charania: Bucks-Suns NBA Finals: Game 1: July 6 Game 2: July 8 Game 3: July 11 Game 4: July 14 Game 5*: July 17 Game 6*: July 20 Game 7*: July 22
And we aren’t even talking about the demands of the local broadcasters these teams rely on or the complication of the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to begin July 23. From the team executives I talk to, the Tokyo factor was an underrated schedule pressure.
Shams Charania: Sources: Key dates for the 2021-22 NBA season: Sept. 28: Training camp starts Oct. 19: Regular season starts April 16: Playoffs start June 2: Finals Game 1 June 19: Finals Game 7 June 23: 2022 NBA Draft
Tim Reynolds: Important to note: Nobody knows what the planned end date of next season in the NBA is yet -- because we don't know for certain if the play-in tournament returns. It likely will. But it's not definitive.
Tim Reynolds: Teams will also return to what should have been the 2020-21 schedule matrix when it comes to which non-divisional in-conference opponents they play three times instead of four. (You play your divisional opponents four, and the other conference teams twice each.)
Sources said the league disagrees that the schedule or short offseason has increased injuries or wear and tear on players or that it has limited the amount of time for rest and recovery. Citing internal data, the league says injuries rate similarly to last season. Officials note that in a normal calendar year, teams play 82 games and return after 14 weeks off. Over this two-year period, the average team played 20 fewer games than it would've played in such a stretch and had an additional two months off. Of course, those numbers don't take into account the complicating factors wrought by the pandemic, such as early testing times or other elements tied to COVID-19 protocols.
Sources said the league is expected to engage general managers and other team staffers on all manner of competitive issues, including the schedule, in a more formal manner in the near future, which will help inform how next season's schedule is impacted.
Michael Singer: NBA just announced Nuggets-Suns Round 2 schedule. No extra off days except, potentially, ahead of Game 7.
Brad Townsend: One way or the other, Mavs will play Sunday at 2:30 on ABC, NBA announces. Will it be Game 7 at the Clippers? Or Game 1 at the Jazz? pic.twitter.com/cSM8dzGWGA
Among the questions that the league likely still needs to address to teams: Could franchises be assured -- especially those in big markets -- that there wouldn't be gate revenue losses by shortening the regular season to 78 games to accommodate the tournament? Some teams had been hesitant to incur short-term losses on potentially losing two home dates, especially when those games had been worth anywhere between $2.5 million and $4 million in pre-pandemic times.
JD Shaw: Here is the schedule for the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament. Times are still TBD: pic.twitter.com/iYzoodatHJ
JD Shaw: Here is the confirmed schedule for Saturday’s slate of NBA games: pic.twitter.com/W0B4bhwnVx
The NBA announced today that NBA Draft 2021 presented by State Farm® will take place on Thursday, July 29, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The first round will be televised by ESPN and ABC, and the second round will air on ESPN.
Subject to evolving public health conditions, Microsoft Surface NBA Draft Combine 2021 is scheduled to take place Monday, June 21 through Sunday, June 27. ESPN networks plan to televise the NBA Draft Combine, with coverage featuring five-on-five games and strength and agility testing.
NBA Draft Lottery 2021 presented by State Farm® will take place on Tuesday, June 22, airing on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The deadline for an early entry player to apply for this year’s NBA Draft is Sunday, May 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The deadline for an early entry player to withdraw from the NBA Draft is Monday, July 19 at 5 p.m. ET.
Shams Charania: The 2021 NBA Draft will be on July 29, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. NBA Draft Lottery will be on June 22. Draft Combine scheduled for June 21-27.
Fred Katz: Adam Silver on the possibilities of a playoff bubble: "We’re not considering going back to a bubble right now. I don’t rule anything out…The virus is firmly in charge, so we need to adjust to circumstances as they present themselves."
Tim Bontemps: Adam Silver says the first half of the season went "as expected." Said the league expected games to be lost, and that the league's protocols have held up.
Joe Vardon: NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the plan remains for league to get back to as close to a 'normal' schedule as possible next season. Typically a season starts in October and ends in June.
Chase Hughes: Scott Brooks says he likes how the NBA is having back-to-back games against the same teams this season. Seems like he wouldn't mind if it was kept in future years. "It gives you a playoff feel."
Tom Orsborn: Poeltl on the jam-packed 2nd half sked: "Just means we need to be on top of things (rest & recovery). We are aware it is not going to be easy, but we are not going to use it as an excuse. It is what it is. A lot of teams have to deal with the same type of stuff."
Although the NBA's goal is to have every team play its scheduled 72 games, sources said the league is cognizant of the fact that all 30 teams might not be able to reach that number. There is limited flexibility within the schedule to add games, or to add dates on the calendar, as the NBA wants to get the playoffs completed on time before the scheduled start of the Olympic Games in late July.
The NBA today released its game schedule and broadcast schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC, NBA TV and ESPN Radio for the Second Half of the 2020-21 regular season, which will begin Wednesday, March 10 and conclude Sunday, May 16. The Second Half of the regular season will be followed by the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament (May 18-21) and the 2021 NBA Playoffs, which will tip off Saturday, May 22. The Play-In Tournament will determine the teams that will fill the seventh and eighth playoff seeds in each conference. The teams with the seventh-highest through the tenth-highest winning percentages in each conference will qualify for the Play-In Tournament.
The game schedules across TNT and ESPN for the final week of the regular season (May 10-16) will be determined at a later date in order to provide the most compelling matchups to a national audience leading into the NBA Play-In Tournament and the NBA Playoffs. In the final week of the regular season, TNT will present doubleheaders Tuesday, May 11 and Thursday, May 13, and ESPN will televise doubleheaders Wednesday, May 12 and Friday, May 14. ESPN will also air a game Sunday, May 16 on the final day of the regular season. TNT will tip off its coverage of the Second Half of the season Thursday, March 11 with a doubleheader as the Brooklyn Nets host the Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET) and the Golden State Warriors visit the LA Clippers (10 p.m. ET). ESPN will begin its Second Half coverage Sunday, March 14 when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Clippers (9 p.m. ET). On Monday, March 15, ESPN’s first doubleheader in the Second Half will feature the New York Knicks visiting the Nets (8 p.m. ET) and the Lakers taking on the Warriors in San Francisco (10:30 p.m. ET).
Barry Jackson: Per source, Lakers-at-Heat will be April 8, a Thursday, on TNT. .. Heat's other TNT game in second half of season is home against Portland on March 25, also a Thursday. Schedule being announced this afternoon.
Ohm Youngmisuk: The Clippers will have 7 back-to-backs in the upcoming second half portion of the schedule. They have one stretch where they play nine straight home games. And they finish the season with a four-game road swing in six days at Toronto, Charlotte, Houston and OKC.
Tim Reynolds: The National Basketball Association announced today that it will schedule the Detroit Pistons to play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Pistons-Knicks game was originally targeted for the second half of the season.
Tim Bontemps: Tom Thibodeau says he hopes that the two-game series are "here to stay." Says he thinks most of the people in the league like it, also.
Kellan Olson: The Suns' postponed game on Jan. 15 against the Warriors will now take place on March 4. That is 2 day after the Suns' previously scheduled last game of the first half against the Lakers on March 2. All-Star break starts March 5. Suns were gonna break early but not anymore.
In an effort to combat the piling up of games due to postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA on Wednesday said it will adjust the existing schedule to avoid having to fill in too many games during the second half of the season. To do so, the NBA will do two things: reschedule games that have already been postponed, where possible, between now and the league's scheduled midseason break in early March; and reschedule games to the second half of the season -- which has yet to be announced -- in order to squeeze in more games where possible in the first half.
Washington’s second-half schedule might not be as jam-packed as first thought, after the NBA said Wednesday it was rescheduling some Wizards games after a half-dozen of their contests were postponed in recent weeks for virus-related reasons. Portland will now visit Washington on Tuesday, a game that was originally set for the second half. Washington will play at Charlotte on Feb. 7, a game that was rescheduled from Jan. 20. And that means the Blazers, who were scheduled to visit the Hornets that day, will now go to Charlotte in the second half of the schedule.
Shams Charania: NBA will reschedule certain postponed games in first half of the season -- instead of the second half. Changes: - Blazers-Wizards: Feb. 2, (previously second half) - Wizards-Hornets: Feb. 7 (previously Jan. 20) - Blazers-Hornets Feb. 7: postponed to second half
Marc J. Spears: Several changes to the NBA schedule: pic.twitter.com/MVCl44hyUz
A day after Golden State played its second of two straight games against Portland, Kerr said, “I don’t think fans want to see the same team back-to-back. I think they’d rather see them a few months apart. Teams change. Seeing us now compared to three months from now is totally different. That’s part of the fun part of being a fan. You get to see a team evolve.”
“If I were a fan and I came to the game against Portland that first night, I’d probably want to see somebody else the next night,” Kerr said. “I think we should always be thinking about our fans when it comes to how we schedule the games.”
In the not so distant past, fallible humans came up with the schedule for our sports leagues. It was a painstaking, manual process. In the NFL, the late Val Pinchbeck would slowly piece together the entire football slate on a giant pegboard. Other leagues had too many games to fit on a pegboard, but they employed similarly artisanal methods of mapping the future. Matt Winick was the NBA’s Val Pinchbeck, the man who slowly, personally constructed the 1,230 game schedule within a tornado of yellow legal pads. He did it for three decades, and in his latter years on the job, used the trappings of modernity as a means to shift blame. As Winick told Howard Beck in a 2015 Bleacher Report story: “I tell the teams, ‘Hey, that’s the way the computer did it. But it was never the computer. I was the computer.”
Both Winick and Pinchbeck now are beloved in sports league circles, even if teams were cursing their choices back then. These two are associated with a wilder, woolier, pre-corporate time when the future was more an act of invention than the manifestation of automated fatalism. Such a time cannot be sustained, though. These days, if Winick were still on the job, that computer excuse wouldn’t be a lie.
Efficiency is sought as you hit the big time. TV partners are paying out expensive contracts, like that $2.66 billion the NBA gets annually from ESPN and TNT. Nothing can be left to chance, so everything can’t be left to one man. As one NFL executive once told the Los Angeles Times, “In the 10 years that I’ve been doing this, the computer sophistication has grown exponentially. So now we have not only the ability but the mandate to take all these considerations in parallel.” The same article says of the recent changes, “There has been a significant paradigm shift since those days when the schedule was built, and then games were distributed to the networks. Now, TV is a consideration from the start, and there are several marquee games that are essentials around which the schedule is constructed.”
Indeed, the power of national television in the NBA ecosystem is such that the league has rushed back for an opening night in December despite having just ended its season in mid October — an extreme maneuver even if justified. The NBA set a sports record for shortest ever offseason against the protestations of LeBron James because a) Sacrificing Christmas Day games can’t happen and b) They never want to repeat the experience of losing playoff viewership to the NFL ever again.
The NBA’s fancy proprietary software, called “Game Scheduling System” or “the computer” more colloquially, drew up the lion’s share of this national TV schedule. In 2015, GSS officially took over for Matt Winick. These days, Head of NBA Basketball Strategy & Analytics Evan Wasch is the man with authority over the machine. Wasch, who’s increasingly gained a reputation as the league’s big ideas guy, is of a new generation. He’s a data driven former Sloan Conference presenter who helped introduce the All-Star Game Elam Ending.
Kyle Goon: A game that really sticks out to me is the Lakers at Philadelphia on Jan. 27, a year and a day since Kobe Bryant died, which will be on ESPN. The Lakers last game before he died was also in Philly against the Sixers, and I expect it will be an emotional night.
Each team will play 72 games in the 2020-21 season, facing each opponent in its conference three times (42 total games per team) and each opponent in the other conference twice (30 total games per team). In the First Half, each team will play 37 or 38 games, including a minimum of 17 home games and a maximum of 20. Nearly 52% of all regular-season games (558 of 1,080) have been scheduled for the First Half.
The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series” model. In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively. Each team will play an average of four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road. Additional steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50% fewer instances of teams making single-game road trips.
Shams Charania: Notable NBA season matchups: Bucks-Lakers in Milwaukee on Jan. 21 Lakers-Nets in LA on Feb. 18 Lakers-Heat in LA on Feb. 20 Nets-Clippers in LA on Feb. 21
Tim Reynolds: It's NBA schedule time. The biggest change (besides it being 72 games instead of 82): Some teams will go to a city and play there twice before moving on. Story to come. Let me read this first.
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA’s Jan. 18 Martin Luther King Jr. Day schedule on TNT: Suns-Grizzlies in Memphis Bucks-Nets in Brooklyn Lakers-Warriors in LA 10-game schedule on MLK Day.
KC Johnson: Bulls official schedule out soon. An initial draft had Steph Curry and the Warriors here in season’s first week after they open season in Brooklyn, per source.
Anthony Slater: The Warriors don't open at home until Jan. 1 against the Blazers, I'm told. They'll face the Blazers again in the Chase Center two days later, on Jan. 3. Every team will have repetitive matchups this season. Part of the necessary scheduling oddities.
Shams Charania: Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets will visit the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 13 in a primetime Saturday night game, marking Durant’s return to the Bay, sources tell me and @Anthony Slater.
Stefan Bondy: The Knicks are scheduled to host Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the Nets on Jan. 13, according to a source. Russell Westbrook, now on the Wizards, is scheduled to play his old teammate Kevin Durant on Jan. 3, according to a source.
Fred Katz: SCHEDULE NEWS: John Wall’s return to DC as a member of the Rockets is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 15, according to a source. Russell Westbrook’s return to Houston scheduled tentatively for Jan. 26. The illustrious @Chase Hughes first with the news.
Stefan Bondy: The Knicks are opening their season Dec. 23 at the Indiana Pacers, according to a source.
Ira Winderman: NBA announces schedule will be released Friday.
Anthony Slater: Christmas in Milwaukee would signal the Warriors are starting the season on an extended east road swing. That’s the initial expectation within the franchise.
Shams Charania: NBA Preseason begins on Dec. 11, running through Dec. 19: Lakers-Clippers, New York-Detroit, Orlando-Atlanta, Houston-Chicago, Sacramento-Portland.