The NBA is turning to its biggest names and some high-profile matchups on the opening night of the season, Oct. 19. Along with the Christmas Day schedule (featuring those four same stars and their teams), the NBA released the broadcast television schedule for the first week (all times Eastern):
Tuesday, Oct. 19
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks (7:30 p.m., TNT)
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m., TNT)
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks (7:30 p.m., TNT)
Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns (10 p.m., TNT)
Thursday, Oct. 21
Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m., TNT)
L.A. Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors (10 p.m., TNT)
Friday, Oct. 22
Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers (7:30 p.m., TNT)
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m., TNT)
Of course the Bucks’ banner-raising ceremony is the first game, taking place in front of this season’s title favorites. And the Lakers are Warriors are the biggest draws out West.
The NBA frontloads the schedule the first week to generate some buzz (not as easy to do during football season — and the NBA has to go up against the NFL on Christmas Day this year, too). Last year’s playoff darlings, the Hawks and Suns, get prime spots, as do Dallas with Luka Doncic and Denver with reigning MVP Nikola Vucevic. Every team playing is loaded with stars.
While there had been a push from some quarters — both inside and outside the league — to start closer to Christmas again, Commissioner Adam Silver pushed for a return to the NBA’s traditional October to June schedule. Starting on Christmas would involve reducing the season length, and while that may be the smart move long term, the league is not there right now.