2020-21 NBA Schedule
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The NBA and NBA betting continues to grow in worldwide popularity, and that means more options to watch its regular season and postseason product. Whether that’s local broadcasts, national broadcasts, live streaming, or applications like NBA League Pass, there are myriad options to consume and wager on games.
NBA TV Schedule
It doesn’t matter if it is a Celtics-Nets game on a Monday night in October or a Warriors-Clippers battle on a Friday night in March, if you want to watch a game, you can.
Beginning local and moving outward, all 30 teams have local regional sports networks that air local games. The RSNs include Fox Sports, NBC Sports, AT&T SportsNet, Altitude Sports, MSG, Spectrum Sports and Sportsnet/TSN.
ESPN/ABC, TNT and NBATV are the three main networks for nationally televised games. TNT broadcasts national games every Thursday, as well as Christmas Day, Martin Luther King Day and on Tuesdays later in the regular season.
ESPN broadcasts national games every Wednesday and Friday – as well as the national holidays and Opening Week – and after the completion of the college football season adds a primetime Saturday night game to their slate and Sunday matinees following the completion of the NFL season. NBATV sprinkles their games out throughout the week, usually simulcasting a local broadcast on their channel.
The four networks split up the first two rounds of NBA playoff action. ESPN and TNT split the Conference Finals, and the NBA Finals are aired on ABC.
CHECK OUT: Get The Latest NBA Odds, From Preseason Games Through NBA Final Action
Why the NBA Schedule Matters
All NBA schedules are not created equally. Unlike the NFL, where each team plays one game a week for 16 weeks with a bye week sprinkled in, or the MLB in which teams generally play similar three- and four-game sets to get to 162 games, the NBA schedule is full of intricacies that bettors must keep in mind when considering bets.
The first consideration is rest. Because NBA teams are playing between three and five games per week, considering how many days a team has had between games compared to their opponent always needs to be a consideration.
With many teams focusing their efforts on the postseason – more than half the league makes the postseason – rest days are becoming commonplace for stars to make sure they’re ready for the playoffs. Back-to-backs or the final games of long road trips are sometimes indicators that teams are preparing to rest some of their more important players. Always consider where a team is in their schedule before placing a bet.
Travel is the other significant factor. Each team squares off against all other 29 teams on the road over the course of a normal 82-game NBA schedule. Sometimes teams will go on extended road trips because of events taking place in their home venue – San Antonio’s annual rodeo trip, for example – and West Coast trips are commonplace for Eastern Conference teams.
Again, not every schedule is created equally. An East Coast team playing the lowly Sacramento Kings on the first game of their five-game West Coast road trip is much different than playing in Sacramento to end that 10-day trip.
How the NBA Creates its Schedule
The creation of the NBA schedule is rather straightforward. For an 82-game season, the breakdown is as follows:
Each team plays four games against the other four division opponents, totaling 16 games.
Of the remaining 10 teams in the conference, each team will play four games against six of them and three games against the other four, totaling 36 games. There is a five-year rotation that determines which non-division teams are played just three times.
To finish off the schedule, each team plays two games (one home, one away) against each of the 15 teams in the opposing conference, totaling 30 games.
Exceptions are made due to extraordinary circumstances, such as the COVID pandemic. For that reason, the NBA schedule build is different in 2021, as the shortened league calendar means each team will only play 72 regular season games. That means each team will play three games against the other 14 teams in its conference, totaling 42 games. Each team will also play the standard two games (one home, one road) against the 15 opponents in the opposite conference, totaling 30 games.
NBA Schedule FAQs
When is the NBA schedule released each year?
The NBA schedule is typically released in early August. The timing is no coincidence, as that date falls after the late June draft and July free agency period. 2021 marked a deviation from that norm due to the coronavirus. For the first time in the history of the league, the NBA schedule will be released in two parts: around Dec. 1 and then during the latter portion of the first half games.
How many games will each NBA team play this year?
NBA teams have played an 82-game schedule since the 1967-68 season. The only instances of teams not playing that many games have been the lockout-shortened seasons of 1998-99 (50 games), 2011-12 (66 games), the COVID-19-shortened seasons of 2019-2020 and 2020-21, which is slated for 72 games.
How many divisional games does each team play?
The NBA consists of six divisions of five teams. In a typical season, each team plays four games against division opponents, with two of those games coming at home and two on the road. Division opponents make up nearly 20% of a team’s schedule each season.
How many conference games does each team play?
Each NBA team plays 52 conference games each season. Each team plays four games against the other four division opponents, totaling 16 games. Of the remaining 10 teams in the conference, each team will play four games against six of them and three games against the other four, totaling 36 games. There is a five-year rotation that determines which non-division teams are played just three times.
How long does the regular season last?
After a handful of preseason games, the NBA regular season schedule typically runs from late October until early April, with each team completing an 82-game regular season before the playoffs begin. The NBA moved up the start of the regular season in 2018 to spread out games over the course of the schedule and to reduce instances of games on back-to-back nights. Opening night in the 2020-21 season is Dec. 22 – similar to 2012, when the lockout-shortened season began on Christmas – and will run through mid-May.
When do the playoffs typically begin?
The NBA Playoffs usually begin in the middle of April and run through the middle of June. The playoffs are the longest of any of the four major sports, featuring seven-game series for all four rounds and rest days in between most games. The NBA Finals are often scheduled to start on a specific day, so there are instances of teams waiting a week if they win the Conference Finals in fewer games than their counterpart.