NBA 2021-22 season schedule released: Key dates for Clippers and Lakers
After a pandemic-interrupted 2020 and last season’s abbreviated, 72-game schedule, the NBA on Friday passed a new milestone toward normalcy by doing something once completely ordinary: issuing the league’s standard, 82-game schedule.
The 2021-22 season tips off Oct. 19 with Brooklyn at Milwaukee and Golden State at the Lakers. For the Clippers, who are coming off an appearance in the franchise’s first conference finals but remain unsure when injured star Kawhi Leonard will return from knee surgery, the season begins Oct. 21 at Golden State, on TNT.
It’s one of 27 Clippers games to be broadcast on national television and the first of their nine games on TNT, including Feb. 3 and March 3 against the Lakers. Six of their games will be ESPN broadcasts, including the other two matchups against the Lakers on Dec. 3 and Feb. 25.
Forty-two Lakers games will be broadcast nationally, including a league-high 13 appearances on Turner Sports broadcasts, one more than Golden State and two more than Brooklyn. One of the two matchups between the Lakers and Nets, widely considered the betting favorites to win their respective conferences, will take place on Christmas. The NBA did not schedule the Clippers for a Christmas matchup for the first time since 2018.
The Lakers have been given two of the NBA’s top TV slots for 2021-22, on opening night Oct. 19 against Golden State and Christmas against Brooklyn.
The Lakers play Phoenix on Oct. 22 at home for the first time since being ousted in the first round of the postseason. Milwaukee, which beat Phoenix for their first NBA championship in 50 years, faces the Lakers on Nov. 17 in Milwaukee before visiting L.A. on Feb. 8. The Lakers face reigning most valuable player Nikola Jokic of Denver on Jan. 15 for the first time.
The longest Lakers road trip lasts six games, in January, though they also have a five-game trip in October and play seven times on the road in an eight-game stretch to end March.
Dates for Clippers matchups against other key opponents include seeing Phoenix — which ousted the Clippers in six games for the conference championship last season — on Dec. 13 and April 6 at Staples Center, and Jan. 6 and Feb. 15 on the road. Milwaukee visits Los Angeles on Feb. 6 to play the Clippers, who return the favor April 1.
Sixteen of the Clippers’ first 22 games are at home. The stretch includes a pair of six-game homestands, the longest of the season. That is followed by nine road games, including a trip through Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn, between Dec. 3 and Jan. 1. Their longest road trip begins Jan. 19 in Denver and ends Jan. 31 in Indiana — eight games in 13 nights against playoff teams from last season, including the Nuggets, Philadelphia, New York, Washington and Miami.
The Clippers will play 20 of their 32 games during December and January on the road. They play 14 sets of back-to-back games, and the Lakers are scheduled for 12 sets of back-to-backs.
Observations from the Clippers-Lakers Summer League game in Las Vegas on Friday night.
The Lakers start an eight-day All-Star break after playing Utah on Feb. 16. The Clippers play one day later against Houston before taking their break.
The Lakers and Wizards, whose swap of Russell Westbrook to Los Angeles in exchange for D.C.-bound Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remains one of the most high-profile offseason transactions, meet March 11 in Los Angeles, then again eight days later.
Reunions among former Clippers benchmates start early. Kenny Atkinson, an assistant on coach Tyronn Lue’s staff last season, will see his former team on opening night now as a member of the Warriors’ staff. Chauncey Billups, another assistant now in his first head coaching job with Portland, will face close friend Lue in the season’s third game on Oct. 25 at Staples Center, and again four days later in Portland. Only days later. former guard Patrick Beverley, traded to Memphis earlier this week before being rerouted to Minnesota, will face the Clippers for two games in Minneapolis.
Atlanta’s Lou Williams, traded by the Clippers at last year’s trade deadline, will see his former team for the first time on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles, where he is likely to receive a tribute after twice being named the NBA’s top reserve with the franchise.
The Clippers are expected to begin training camp Sept. 27 and play a five-game preseason schedule that includes home dates Oct. 4 against Denver and Oct. 6 against Sacramento.
One schedule tweak adopted as a response to limited travel during a pandemic last season has stuck despite the return to the 82-game schedule. The Clippers have three so-called “baseball-style” road series, with multiple road games played in one city over several days: Games on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 at Minnesota; Feb. 10 and Feb. 12 at Dallas, last season’s first-round playoff opponent; and Feb. 27 and March 1 at Houston. The Lakers have one: Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 against Houston.
Those series helped the NBA reduce the average distance traveled to what it said was a record-low 43,000 per team. There are also no stretches of four games in five nights, though teams will play just-as-punishing runs of five games in seven nights.
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