The NBA is starting the season about 10-days earlier this season — and they are starting it out with a bang.
The league announced the national television schedule for the league’s opening week, as well as Christmas Day — and if the NBA is good at one thing, it’s stacking their best games and stars into the biggest spotlights.
Opening night will feature a TNT doubleheader of (arguably) the top two teams in each conference, in what could be a crazy early Conference Finals preview:
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers (8 p.m. ET)
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET)
That means Chris Paul and James Harden can be on hand to watch the Warriors raise a banner then get their rings. That will come after our first look at Gordon Hayward in Celtics’ green as they get an early test against LeBron James and… maybe Kyrie Irving? Either way, these are the two top teams in the East.
As for the rest of the nationally televised games on opening week, the young stars in Philadelphia and Minnesota are getting their time in the spotlight:
Oct. 18: Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards (ESPN)
Oct. 18: Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs (ESPN)
Oct. 19: New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder (TNT)
Oct. 19: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)
Oct. 20: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks (ESPN)
Oct. 20: Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans (ESPN)
As has been the tradition for a few years now, the NBA will have five games on Christmas Day, highlighted by a Finals rematch (this year, because it is a Monday, the NBA will go up against two NFL games).
This is the third year in a row the Cavaliers and Warriors will face off on Christmas. Here is the Christmas Day lineup, with the times (Eastern):
Noon: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks (ESPN)
3 p.m.: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors (ABC)
5:30 p.m.: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics (ABC)
8 p.m.: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (ABC)
10:30 p.m.: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)
The NBA is good at stacking its big showcase days.
The full NBA schedule is expected to be released next week.