Early on Monday afternoon, the NBA released the full 2019-20 season schedule. We already knew some of the matchups for big events such as and , and even some details on so-called "revenge games," when superstars will return to face their old team. But now, we have the dates and times for every single game.
Following the conclusion of Summer League and one of the most hectic free agency periods ever, the dog days of summer arrived and the NBA, at last, slowed down. But after a quiet few weeks, it's officially time to start looking ahead to next season.
Here are some key facts about the upcoming schedule:
- The regular season will run from Tuesday, Oct. 22 until Wednesday, April 15
- The opening night schedule will feature some notable overlap
- The Christmas Day slate is star-studded
- There are going to be some fun "revenge games"
- National TV doubleheaders will start earlier
- No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will make his home debut on Friday, Oct. 25
1. The season will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 22
There's been a lot of talk recently about potentially shortening the NBA schedule given the injuries we saw during the Finals and the continued implementation of "load management" as a regular-season rest strategy. That won't happen this year -- the league will play a normal 82 games -- but there has been a slight tweak. The 2019-20 NBA season will begin on Oct. 22, one week later than it did last season, and the playoffs will also begin one week later. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that this summer's FIBA World Cup was a factor in moving back the start date, presumably to give players more time to recover before the season.
The 2019-20 NBA season will move back one week next year and begin October 22, per league sources. This means the playoffs will also begin a week later. The change is to prevent opening night from occurring too early moving forward each year. The FIBA World Cup was also a factor.— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 29, 2018
2. The opening night schedule will feature some notable overlap
While opening night tends to include some of the best games on the season's schedule, the league usually avoids major overlap. The defending champions usually play against a conference rival, while two of the best teams in the opposing conference tend to fill in the night's other slot.
But the league is going in a slightly different direction this year. The defending champion Raptors will indeed play on opening night, but rather than playing a conference rival, they will take on the New Orleans Pelicans in Zion Williamson's debut. As is tradition, the defending champs will also receive their rings and raise their championship banner in a ceremony prior to their match-up with Williamson and the Pelicans on opening night.
Even more surprising, the Los Angeles Lakers will battle with the Clippers in perhaps the most anticipated game of the season. Such matchups are typically reserved for Christmas, but these teams will meet four times this season, and two of their scheduled dates will be opening night and Christmas.
That might take some of the teeth out of the Christmas game, but it's worth noting that Paul George is expected to miss the beginning of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. If he does indeed miss opening night, the Christmas game will be his first duel with the Lakers as a member of the Clippers.
3. The Christmas Day slate is star-studded
Christmas is the NBA's marquee regular-season showcase, and this season is no exception. The five-game Christmas Day slate will feature superstars such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Nikola Jokic. We'll also get a look at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson in his first NBA season. Here's the full schedule of games:
- Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors, noon p.m. ET (ESPN) -- Scotiabank Arena
- Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers, 2:30 p.m. ET (ABC) -- Wells Fargo Center
- Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 5 p.m. ET (ABC) -- Chase Center
- L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC) -- Staples Center
- New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) -- Pepsi Center
Believe it or not, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has already reportedly released odds for the games:
4. There are going to be some fun 'revenge' games
Any time a high-profile player changes teams, there's some serious buzz when that player returns to play in his former city for the first time. We reportedly have the dates for some of those games, including Kawhi Leonard returning to Toronto and Paul George returning to Oklahoma City. Here are the dates that have been revealed so far:
- Nov. 14 -- Dallas Mavericks' Kristaps Porzingis at New York Knicks
- Nov. 27 -- Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis at New Orleans Pelicans
- Nov. 27 -- Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving at Boston Celtics
- Dec. 11 -- Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard at Toronto Raptors
- Jan. 9 -- Houston Rockets' Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma City Thunder
- March 3 -- Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George at Oklahoma City Thunder
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