When does the NBA season start 2020-21? Opening Night schedule, first game for each team

After leaving the NBA’s “bubble” at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, teams likely anticipated a bit of a layoff between seasons. Early reports indicated the 2020-21 campaign wouldn’t begin before mid-January at the earliest and March at the latest.

So, uh, about those vacation plans …

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association bumped up the 2020-21 season start date to late December. It was largely a financial decision, as the NBA feared a January start could cost the league up to $1 billion in revenue losses. Things tend to move quickly when the word “billion” is being thrown around.

Not all of the details are ironed out just yet, but here’s what we know so far about the upcoming season.

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When does the NBA season start for 2020-21?
Training camp start date: Dec. 1, 2020
NBA preseason start date: Dec. 11, 2020
NBA season start date: Dec. 22, 2020
Teams will be back in gymnasiums for training camps beginning Tuesday, Dec. 1, giving them three weeks to prepare before Opening Night.

Yep, it’s going to be a fast turnaround.

NBA schedule for 2020-21
Each team will play a 72-game schedule. Complete game and broadcast schedules for the first half of the season were revealed on Dec. 4. The league will announce the second half of the schedule separately in order to maintain flexibility amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a tentative breakdown of 2020-21 NBA calendar:

Preseason games: Dec. 11-19, 2020
First half of regular season: Dec. 22, 2020-March 4, 2021
All-Star break: March 5-10, 2021
Second half of regular season: March 11-May 16, 2021
Play-in tournament: May 18-21, 2021
NBA playoffs: May 22-July 22, 2021
Tuesday, Dec. 22 (Opening Night)
(All times Eastern)

Game Time National TV
Warriors vs. Nets 7 p.m. TNT
Clippers vs. Lakers 10 p.m. TNT
Wednesday, Dec. 23
(All times Eastern)

Game Time National TV
Hornets vs. Cavaliers 7 p.m. —
Knicks vs. Pacers 7 p.m. —
Heat vs. Magic 7 p.m. —
Wizards vs. 76ers 7 p.m. —
Bucks vs. Celtics 7:30 p.m. TNT
Pelicans vs. Raptors 7:30 p.m. —
Hawks vs. Bulls 8 p.m. —
Thunder vs. Rockets 8 p.m. —
Spurs vs. Grizzlies 8 p.m. —
Pistons vs. Timberwolves 8 p.m. —
Kings vs. Nuggets 9 p.m. —
Jazz vs. Trail Blazers 10 p.m. —
Mavericks vs. Suns 10:30 p.m. ESPN
Friday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)
(All times Eastern)

Game Time National TV
Pelicans vs. Heat Noon ESPN
Warriors vs. Bucks 2:30 p.m. ABC
Nets vs. Celtics 5 p.m. ABC
Mavericks vs. Lakers 8 p.m. ABC/ESPN
Clippers vs. Nuggets 10:30 p.m. ABC
Will NBA fans be allowed to attend games?
The NBA is anticipating five to 10 teams will allow fans to be present at games to start the 2020-21 season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. At this point, it is difficult to nail down which teams would feel comfortable letting fans walk into arenas because state guidelines may vary.

The league hasn’t provided an across-the-board answer, so expect teams to offer individual statements as the season approaches. Information on how each team will handle attendance can be found here.

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