NBA’s opening night schedule to feature LeBron vs. Curry and Giannis vs. Durant – USA TODAY - Techy Hunters

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NBA’s opening night schedule to feature LeBron vs. Curry and Giannis vs. Durant – USA TODAY

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NBA draft 2021: Biggest winners and losers

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the NBA draft and who set themselves up for success ahead of the 2021-22 season.

USA TODAY

The NBA’s season opener for the 2021-22 season on Oct. 19 will feature a handful of stars, including the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry.

In the first game, the Bucks host the Nets nearly five months after eliminating them in the Eastern Conference semifinals in seven games. In the late game, the Lakers will host the Warriors.

After missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons, the Warriors are expected to have a fully healthy Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green along with veteran Andre Iguodala, second-year center James Wiseman and rookie forward Jonathan Kuminga. After losing in the first-round to the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers expect a fully healthy James and Davis. They also acquired veterans Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony this offseason in hopes to boost their chances to win an NBA title for the second time in three years.

As for the Bucks and Nets, the matchup could become more competitive after Harden and Irving nursed injuries throughout their playoff series. The Bucks then won the NBA title after beating the Phoenix Suns in six games, their first championship since 1971.

Both the Bucks-Nets (7:30 p.m. ET) and Lakers-Warriors (10 p.m. ET) will be televised on TNT.

ESPN will then broadcast two other marquee games the following night, including the Boston Celtics-New York Knicks (7:30 p.m. ET) and Denver Nuggets-Phoenix Suns (10 p.m. ET). 

Two days after opening night, TNT will also televise two other marquee matchups. The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks will play on Oct. 21 (7:30 p.m. ET), which will pit two NBA rising stars who were traded for each other on NBA Draft night 2018 in Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Atlanta’s Trae Young.  The Warriors will then host the Los Angeles Clippers at 10 p.m. ET. Although both teams have had testy moments in recent years, it may lack some sizzle since the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard is not expected to play much or at all next season after needing surgery on a torn ACL in his right knee.

On Oct. 22, ESPN will then feature Nets-Sixers (7:30 p.m. ET) and Suns-Lakers (10 p.m. ET). 

The NBA’s 2021-22 regular-season will run from Oct. 19, 2021 through April 10, 2022 followed by a play-in tournament (April 12-15) and the playoffs (April 16). The NBA plans to release the full schedule on Friday at 3 p.m. ET. 

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