NBA unveils game and national television schedules for first half of 2020-21 season

NEW YORK – The NBA today released its game schedule and broadcast schedules for TNT, ESPN, ABC, NBA TV and ESPN Radio for the First Half of the 2020-21 regular season (Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021), detailing the only place you can find the most drama, the biggest stars and thrilling game action.  The schedule for the Second Half of the season (March 11 – May 16, 2021) will be released during the latter part of the First Half portion of the schedule.

The NBA previously announced its national television schedule for the first three game days of the 2020-21 season.  Kia NBA Tip-Off 2020 will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 22 with TNT’s opening-night doubleheader as the Brooklyn Nets host the Golden State Warriors at 7 p.m. ET and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers take on the LA Clippers at 10 p.m. ET.  On Wednesday, Dec. 23, the Milwaukee Bucks will visit the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT and the Phoenix Suns will host the Dallas Mavericks at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.  The 73rd edition of the NBA on Christmas Day will feature five games across ESPN and ABC on Friday, Dec. 25: New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat (12 p.m. ET, ESPN), Warriors at Bucks (2:30 p.m. ET, ABC), Nets at Celtics (5 p.m. ET, ABC), Mavericks at Lakers (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN) and Clippers at Denver Nuggets (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Each team will play 72 games in the 2020-21 season, facing each opponent in its conference three times (42 total games per team) and each opponent in the other conference twice (30 total games per team).  In the First Half, each team will play 37 or 38 games, including a minimum of 17 home games and a maximum of 20.  Nearly 52% of all regular-season games (558 of 1,080) have been scheduled for the First Half.

The schedule incorporates steps to reduce travel, including the use of a “series” model.  In some instances where a team is scheduled to play twice in one market, those games have been scheduled to be played consecutively.  Each team will play an average of four “series” in the First Half – two at home and two on the road.  Additional steps include more instances of teams playing consecutive road games against teams that are geographically close, and roughly 50% fewer instances of teams making single-game road trips.

As part of a continuous effort to present national television games to the largest possible audience, the NBA worked closely with its teams and domestic broadcast partners to schedule earlier start times for doubleheaders.  During the First Half of the season, each doubleheader across TNT and ESPN will tip off at 7 p.m./9:30 p.m. ET or 7:30 p.m./10 p.m. ET.

TNT will televise seven Tuesday doubleheaders and nine Thursday doubleheaders during the First Half, with all games available to stream via, the Watch TNT app and participating TV providers’ websites and apps.  ESPN will televise nine Wednesday doubleheaders and eight Friday doubleheaders during the First Half, with all games available to stream on the ESPN App.

Other schedule highlights for the First Half of the 2020-21 season:

  • NBA TV will tip off its live game coverage of the 2020-21 season with a tripleheader on Saturday, Dec. 26: Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies (5 p.m. ET), Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. ET) and Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET).
  • A TNT tripleheader highlights Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, with the Grizzlies hosting the Suns in Memphis’ 19th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game (5 p.m. ET), the Bucks visiting the Nets (7:30 p.m. ET) and the Lakers facing the Warriors in Los Angeles (10 p.m. ET). Those matchups follow an NBA TV doubleheader as the Orlando Magic visits the Knicks (12 p.m. ET) and the Hawks host the Minnesota Timberwolves (2:30 p.m. ET).
  • The sixth season of NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC will premiere on Saturday, Jan. 30, when the Celtics host the Lakers at 8:30 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Feb. 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET, Primetime will showcase a rematch of NBA Finals 2020 presented by YouTube TV as the Heat visits the Lakers.
  • ABC Sunday Showcase will also make its season debut in the First Half, tipping off with the Celtics visiting the Pelicans on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 3:30 p.m. ET and continuing the following week with the Bucks hosting the Clippers on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
  • The NBA on TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV will present flexible scheduling throughout the regular season to provide the most compelling matchups to a national audience.
  • ESPN Radio will present 14 games during the First Half, beginning with the Lakers-Clippers matchup on opening night and the Celtics-Nets and Lakers-Mavericks matchups on Christmas Day.
  • During the First Half, 20 games will air in primetime in Europe, the Middle East and Africa as part of the league’s “NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays presented by NBA 2K21” primetime initiative.
  • The First Half will reach fans in 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

The schedule for the Second Half of the season (March 11 – May 16, 2021) will include the remainder of each team’s 72 games not scheduled in the First Half as well as any games postponed during the First Half that can reasonably be added to the Second Half schedule.  The Second Half will be followed by the Playoff Play-In Tournament (May 18-21) and the 2021 NBA Playoffs (May 22 – July 22).

The NBA today launched its season campaign hashtag, #OnlyHere, on social media, highlighting the unique action and excitement unlike any other you will experience this season.