The NBA dropped its full 2021-22 schedule on Friday, three days after giving a sneak preview with the Opening Week and Christmas slates.
If you’re a big NBA fan, you’ll already be tuning in to TNT to watch Ernie, Kenny, Chuck and Shaq. And while Marv Albert won’t be calling games, the upside is Chris Webber won’t either. So we’re already winning, hoop heads.
As we saw last season and during the playoffs, injuries play a huge factor. So it doesn’t make sense to look too far into the future. That’s why we’re identifying the best non-national TV games on NBA League Pass during the first two months of the season. The landscape can definitely be altered and — who knows? — maybe that Thunder-Kings game will be worth watching after all (OK, maybe not that game, but you get the point.)
You’re going to faithfully tune into your team’s games. These matchups should interest every hoops fan, with a short explanation why.
Wed., Oct. 20
Cade Cunningham’s debut (Bulls at Pistons, 7 p.m. ET): The 2021 No. 1 pick officially begins his NBA career against a revamped Chicago roster that includes Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan.
Jalen Green’s debut (Rockets at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. ET): The 2021 No. 2 pick officially begins his NBA career in Minnesota, where Wolves fans will be eager to see what 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards has in store for his sophomore year.
Ben Simmons jumper watch (76ers at Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET): How much did Simmons work on his jump shot in the offseason? Let’s find out.
Fri., Oct. 22
Zion vs. Lonzo (Pelicans at Bulls, 8 p.m. ET): The face of New Orleans’ franchise goes up against his former Pelicans teammate and current Bulls cornerstone.
Sat., Oct. 23
CP3 vs. Dame (Suns at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. ET): Chris Paul against Damian Lillard is always worth watching, even if it’s late on a Saturday night.
Sun., Oct. 24
LaMelo vs. Brooklyn Big 3 (Hornets at Nets, 4 p.m. ET): You’ll be focused on football, but man, how many points will be scored at Barclays Center?
Ja plays Staples (Grizzlies at Lakers, 9:30 p.m. ET): Ja Morant is primed to ascend in Year 3. No better team to see how high than against LeBron, AD and Russ.
Wed., Oct. 27
Heat check in Brooklyn (Heat at Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET): How much better is Miami with Kyle Lowry? Let’s see against the Eastern Conference favorites.
Thu., Oct. 28
East hopefuls clash (Knicks at Bulls, 8 p.m. ET): These teams figure to battle each other somewhere in the middle of the Eastern Conference race. This is Round 1.
Dubs revenge? (Grizzlies at Warriors, 10 p.m. ET): A regular-season win can never make up for play-in/postseason loss. But Steph Curry and Co. will be motivated anyway.
Mon., Nov. 1
Lillard/Simmons rumors rehashed (Trail Blazers at 76ers, 7 p.m. ET): Scouting for Neil Olshey and Daryl Morey on a possible superstar swap couldn’t be any easier with Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons on the same court. The teams meet again in Portland on Nov. 20.
Thu., Nov. 4
Spida vs. Ice Trae (Jazz at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET): It’s Donovan Mitchell against Trae Young. How is this game not on national TV?
Fri., Nov. 5
LaMelo vs. De’Aaron (Hornets at Kings, 10 p.m. ET): Just have a hunch that this matchup against De’Aaron Fox in Sactown is going to be really fun.
Sat., Nov. 6
Bulls barometer game (76ers at Bulls, 8 p.m. ET): Billy Donovan can gauge his ambitious Chicago club against Joel Embiid and Co.
Tatum vs. Doncic (Celtics at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET): Olympians Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic never faced off in Tokyo, but they will clash in this surprising non-national TV game.
Trae vs. CP3 and Book (Hawks at Suns, 10 p.m. ET): More proof that not all must-see matchups are on TNT, ESPN or NBATV.
Mon., Nov. 7
Zion vs. Luka (Pelicans at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET): The future faces of the NBA get counter-programmed against Bears vs. Steelers on Monday Night Football.
Trae vs. Steph (Hawks at Warriors, 10 p.m. ET): So, who makes more 3-pointers from half court? Trae Young or Steph Curry?
Wed., Nov. 10
Giannis plays Broadway (Bucks at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET): This time, Giannis Antetokounmpo steps onto the Madison Square Garden floor as an NBA champion.
Fri., Nov. 12
KD vs. Zion (Nets at Pelicans, 8 p.m. ET): This game likely won’t be close, but Kevin Durant and Zion Williamson will do something to reward you for tuning in.
Sun., Nov. 14
East finals rematch (Bucks at Hawks, 6 p.m ET): Hopefully, Trae won’t be hurt or hobbled like the last time they met.
Sun., Nov. 21
Luka vs. PG13 (Mavericks at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. ET): Remember how fun their seven-game first-round series was? The rehabbing Kawhi Leonard won’t play, though.
Tue., Nov. 23
Luka vs. PG13 Part II (Mavericks at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET): The two-game baseball series concludes at Staples Center.
Fri., Nov. 26
CP3 in NYC (Suns at Knicks, 7 p.m. ET): New York fans’ dreams of Paul reuniting with former agent and current Knicks president Leon Rose didn’t come true. Also, maybe Devin Booker’s Mamba Mentality allows him to go off like Kobe always did at MSG.
Young vs. Morant (Hawks at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET): You have to watch whenever these two point guards go head-to-head.
Dame back in the Bay (Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10 p.m. ET): There are only a handful of superstars Golden State would trade its cadre of lottery-pick talents for, and word has it Lillard, the Oakland native, is one of them.
Sat., Nov. 27
NYK in the A (Knicks at Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET): Trae Young averaged 29.2 points per game in Atlanta’s first-round series victory over New York last spring.