2021-22 NBA schedule release: LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry on opening night, Lakers-Nets on Christmas Day

With most of the offseason wrapped up, we’re turning the page to the 2021-22 season, starting with some key dates on the NBA schedule. The NBA announced the Christmas Day slate of games on Tuesday, in addition to the two opening night games when the season starts on Oct. 19. The complete regular-season schedule is supposed to be announced within the next week, NBA insider Marc Stein reports.

The opening night of the 2021-22 schedule starts off with a star-studded double-header featuring the Brooklyn Nets at the reigning Milwaukee Bucks, followed by the Golden State Warriors visiting the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 19 at Staples Center.  

For the Christmas Day matchups, here is the full slate of games. SportsLine also has you covered with their odds:

From this list of games, the matchup that everyone will be watching closely will be between the Lakers and Nets, which will take place at Staples Center. Depending on where both these teams are at that point in the schedule, it could be a glimpse of what is yet to come should those two teams meet in the NBA Finals as both are considered title contenders. This matchup features several former teammates going head-to-head, with LeBron James facing Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant going up against Russell Westbrook, and James Harden matching up against Carmelo Anthony. There’s tons of storylines to be excited about regarding that game, and as long as everyone is healthy — knock on wood — it should be a closely contested game.

Another highlight will be the Knicks vs. the Hawks, which will be a rematch from the playoffs last season where the Hawks got the best of the Knicks in a five-game series, leaving many Knicks fans with a distain for Trae Young, who was virtually unstoppable against the New York. Young will have the opportunity to play The Grinch on Christmas at Madison Square Garden, deepening the rivalry between these two teams, creating what should be a great atmosphere for that matchup.

The game that could end up being the highest scoring affair will likely be the Suns vs. the Warriors, where the defending Western Conference champions will play host in Phoenix to a Golden State team that should have Klay Thompson back by that time. It’ll pit two elite guards in Stephen Curry and Chris Paul against each other, and allow the Suns to play on another big stage after making the surprising trip to the NBA Finals last season.

The other two games on the schedule — Bucks vs. Celtics and Mavericks vs. Jazz — may not carry as much excitement as the other three from a star-power perspective, but that doesn’t mean those games won’t be any less enticing. As the defending champions the Bucks will play host to a Celtics team still trying to prove it deserves to be in the title conversation with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the way. While the Mavericks have the appeal of superstar Luka Doncic as reason alone to watch that matchup against a Jazz team coming off a season in which they were the No. 1 seed in the West heading into the playoffs. 

All in all, the Christmas day slate should bring some competitive games if all the stars are available, creating for some must-watch television on Dec. 25. 

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