When Does the NBA 2021–22 Season Start? Dates, Opening Night and Christmas Day Schedules

Just over a month from ending a 50-year wait for an NBA title, the Milwaukee Bucks have been bestowed with the honor of opening the upcoming NBA regular season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his teammates will host the Brooklyn Nets in the season curtain-raiser on October 19, a rematch of last season's epic seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals.

On Tuesday, it was announced the Bucks and the Nets will also feature on the five-game Christmas Day schedule, with the latter taking part in a glamorous star-studded showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here's all you need to know about the upcoming season.

When does the 2021-22 NBA season start?

The regular season gets underway on October 19, when defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Brooklyn Nets exactly three weeks from the start of training camp on September 28. The season concludes on April 10, 2022, with the play-in tournament to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference running between April 12 and April 15. The NBA playoffs get underway on April 16 and will end at the latest on June 19, the latest possible date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

The All-Star break is scheduled for the weekend of February 18 to February 20, with the NBA Draft to take place on June 23.

How long will the 2021-22 NBA season be?

After playing 72 regular-season games over the last two seasons because of the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA will return to its usual 82-game slate season slate this year. The play-in tournament to determine the final two playoffs seeds in each conference has been retained and the playoffs will follow the usual best-of-seven format for each series from the first round through to the NBA Finals.

Which teams are playing on Opening Night?

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks get the ball rolling when they host the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. ET on Opening Night on October 19 in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference semifinals, before the Los Angeles Lakers host the Golden State Warriors at 10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast by TNT.

On October 20, the Boston Celtics host the New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. ET, while the Denver Nuggets welcome the Phoenix Suns at 10 p.m. ET with both games broadcast on ESPN.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates winning the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award after defeating the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on July 20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Here's the nationally televised schedule for the opening week.

All times ET

Tuesday, October 19

  • Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks—7:30 p.m., TNT
  • Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers—10 p.m., TNT

Wednesday, October 20

  • Boston Celtics at New York Knicks—7:30 p.m., ESPN
  • Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns—10 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, October 21

  • Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks—7:30 p.m., TNT
  • Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors—10 p.m., TNT

Friday, October 22

  • Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers—7:30 p.m., ESPN
  • Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers—10 p.m., ESPN

What is the NBA 2021 Christmas Day schedule?

The Los Angeles Lakers game against the Brooklyn Nets headlines the five-match NBA Christmas Day schedule, with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook colliding with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant at Staples Center at 8 p.m. ET in front of the ABC and ESPN cameras

The showdown between the Lakers and the Nets is followed by the Dallas Mavericks' road game against the Utah Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, as Luka Doncic comes up against Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The Christmas Day schedule gets underway at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN when Trae Young resumes his role of chief villain in New York as the Atlanta Hawks return to the Big Apple to face the Knicks, whom they eliminated in five games in the playoffs last season.

It's then over to ABC for the next two games, with the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Boston Celtics at 2:30 p.m. ET, before the Western Conference champions Phoenix Suns welcome the Golden State Warriors at 5 p.m. ET.

The complete game and broadcast schedules for the 2021-22 season will be revealed on August 20.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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