The National Basketball Association announced Friday the first half of the 2020-21 regular season schedule.
As teams prepare to play in their respective venues amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced half of its 72-game schedule that runs through March 4. The season starts on Dec. 22 when the Golden State Warriors take on the Brooklyn Nets while the Los Angeles Clippers will face the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The NBA will announce the second half of the schedule after the first half ends, allowing for more room to make changes should problems or complications arise with teams playing outside of an NBA bubble environment due to COVID-19.
Other key matchups to watch for include the Nets-Warriors matchup on Feb. 13. It marks the first time Durant will play against Golden State since leaving as a free agent.
With the latest high-profile trade of the Houston Rockets sending Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in return for John Wall, those two will share matchups on Jan. 26 and Feb. 15.
On Jan. 29, the new-look New Orleans Pelicans will play in a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks received Jrue Holiday in a blockbuster trade in November.
The schedule also includes three big games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Suns—a team that now includes NBA veteran Chris Paul—will face the Memphis Grizzlies. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks will go on the road to face the Nets while the Warriors will face the Lakers.
Five key matchups to watch include Bucks at Nuggets on Feb. 8, Pelicans at Mavericks on Feb. 12, Lakers at Nuggets on Feb. 14, Nets at Lakers on Feb. 18 and the Heat at Lakers on Feb. 20.
Apart from releasing the first half of the schedule, the league incorporated the use of baseball-type series scheduling allowing teams to play two games in a row against each other in the same city. However, those matchups will feature only teams that play in the same conference.
Teams across the league will play an average of four—two at home and two on the road—of these series in the first half of the schedule. The league also incorporated more consecutive road games against teams in the same geographic area than before.