NBA

2021-22 NBA Opening Week: What to watch for in nationally televised games

The NBA announced its Opening Week national television schedule and there is no shortage of star players and marquee matchups.

The eight games will feature 12 different teams, including the league's last eight Most Valuable Player award winners and three matchups from last year's playoffs.

Below, you can find each nationally televised game and one thing to watch for in each contest.

All times are Eastern.

2021-22 NBA Opening Week: Nationally televised games

Tuesday, Oct. 19

Brooklyn Nets at Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m

A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals, the shorthanded Nets nearly sent the eventual champions home at the hands of a downright ridiculous performance from Kevin Durant in Game 7.

Durant went off for 48 points, with a foot on the 3-point line in the final minutes of regulation being the difference between advancing to the Conference Finals and being eliminated from the playoffs.

The Bucks would go on to win in overtime behind 40 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo and carry that momentum all the way to the 2021 NBA title.

Brooklyn is expected to be back at full strength to start the new season, so it's safe to say it will be looking for revenge from last year's exit.

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:00 p.m.

It's only right to see Stephen Curry and LeBron James slated against one another on NBA Opening Night. Except this time, that matchup may not be the center of attention.

There's a chance the Warriors will have five-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson returning to the floor for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals, missing the past two seasons with an ACL injury and an Achilles injury, respectively.

This will also mark nine-time All-Star and former MVP Russell Westbrook's first game with the Lakers, so there is no shortage of storylines involved here.

This matchup will be worth staying up for.

Wednesday, Oct. 20

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m.

The Celtics and Knicks were jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference standings all last season and now two of the NBA's original franchises will go head-to-head in their season opener.

Reigning Most Improved Player of the Year Julius Randle will look to redeem himself following a tough playoff performance, while All-Star forward Jayson Tatum will try and pick up where he left off last season, going off for 50 points in Boston's lone playoff win over the Nets.

This also marks Knicks guard Kemba Walker's first game with the franchise, playing at home in Madison Square Garden against his former team.

Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns, 10:00 p.m.

The last time we saw the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic take the floor, he was ejected in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Suns.

Phoenix would go on to sweep the Nuggets, advancing to the Conference Finals and NBA Finals, and now we get to see Jokic try and get his revenge in his first game of the season.

Despite the sweep, Jokic was lethal against the Suns. He averaged 26.0 points, 14.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game, including an unforgettable 32-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in Game 3 to try and will his team to victory.

He'll have his hands full with Phoenix starting center Deandre Ayton again, and Chris Paul and Devin Booker will be back after a disappointing conclusion to the season. You won't want to miss this.

Thursday, Oct. 21

Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m.

NBA fans love to embrace debate and that's exactly what you're seeing in Mavericks-Hawks during Opening Week.

Luka Doncic and Trae Young were traded for each other on draft night in 2018, tying the two superstar guards at the hip for the remainder of their NBA careers. They have both managed to surpass their pre-draft expectations, with Doncic receiving MVP buzz and Young unexpectedly carrying his team to the Eastern Conference Finals in just his third season.

We're in for a show, watching these two megastars battle it out on national television this early in the season.

LA Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:00 p.m.

The Clippers may be without Kawhi Leonard as he recovers from undergoing surgery to repair a partially torn right ACL, but they still have another All-Star who showed out during the homestretch of the 2021 NBA Playoffs in Paul George.

George will need to bring his A-game to compete with Curry and Thompson, but after averaging nearly 26.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists to carry his team to the depths of the Western Conference Finals, I'd bet on a big performance.

One of his lasting memories from that postseason run: a masterpiece of 41 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals in a comeback to keep LA's season alive and force a Game 6 against the Suns.

Friday, Oct. 22

Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m.

The Nets will always be must-see TV with the chance of watching Durant, James Harden or Kyrie Irving light up the floor at any given moment. But do they have an answer for last year's MVP runner-up in Joel Embiid?

Embiid was a menace against Brooklyn last season, averaging 30.7 points and 11.3 rebounds over three matchups. In his last meeting against the Nets, he carried the 76ers to a victory behind a 39-point, 13-rebound double-double.

There is also the intrigue of what Philly's lineup may look like, given the offseason trade rumours surrounding All-Star guard Ben Simmons.

What this matchup looks like on paper now could be different by the time these two teams take the floor.

Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:00 p.m.

A rematch of last year's first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the Suns handed LeBron the first first-round exit of his illustrious career.

Despite a hobbled second superstar in Anthony Davis, the Lakers still extended the series to six games. Davis tried suiting up for Game 6 but only played five minutes before re-aggravating a groin injury.

All-Star guard Booker assured his squad would take care of business, destroying Los Angeles to the tune of 47 points and 11 rebounds to close out the series.

With last year's exit fresh on the memory of James and Davis, while adding Westbrook to the mix, this will be a can't-miss matchup.

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