The NBA begins: who plays tonight? Games, times, TV & how to watch

It's 22 December and NBA regular season action gets going today with the Nets welcoming the Warriors and the Clippers versus the Lakers.

The NBA begins: who plays tonight? Games, times, TV & how to watch
Rob Carr AFP

It's back! The 2020-21 season gets underway today, Tuesday 22 December, with teams back in their own stadiums after previously being stuck in the more controlled environment of Disney World.

The Brooklyn Nets will host the Golden State Warriors in the first tip off of the season, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and this will be followed three hours later with the LA Clippers welcoming local rivals, the LA Lakers.

There's a full schedule of the other 26 teams featuring on Wednesday, with the action beginning at 7 pm ET. And this leads us perfectly into the Christmas Day showcase which starts at 12 pm ET.

How can I watch the NBA 2020-21 season?

All the NBA games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN and TNT as well as NBA TV and local market channels.

There is also the option to use the NBA League Pass, and you can find out all about that here. Currently there isn’t a free trial period but you can try other alternatives.

For those fans who need to smell the action, there will be some access to the arenas but this is restricted and varies by market. The NBA is providing details team-by-team on this.

The NBA 2020-21: how the season will unfold?

With the regular season beginning today, the expected end date is 16 May although with the caveat that the continued pandemic may cause delays despite everyone's best efforts. It's worth nothing that the season will only be 72 games, instead of the normal 82, with teams playing three games against each of their intraconference opponents. Each team will play just two games against each of their interconference opponents.

For the 2020-21 regular season opponent matrix for each NBA team click here.

NBA 2020-21 season: key dates for your diary

  • 22 December – 4 March: First Half of regular season
  • 5 - 10 March: All-Star break
  • 11 March - 16 May: Second Half of regular season
  • 18 - 21 May: Play-In Tournament
  • 22 May - 22 July: 2021 NBA Playoffs

The 2020-21 season will be split into two parts to make adjustments for any possible game postponements or cancellations due to covid-19. The First Half will run from 22 December to 4 March with the second still to be announced. The NBA plans to announce the line-up for the Second Half sometime before the All-Star break, scheduled for 5 to 10 March. The Second Half is expected to run from 11 March to 16 May.

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game was originally scheduled to be held in February 2021, but was cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic. It is now expected to be played on February 18 2024 and will be hosted by the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

How will the Play-In Tournament be structured?

Teams with the 7th-highest through the 10th-highest winning percentages in each conference will participate in the Play-In Tournament. The 7th and 8th seed in each conference will play each other for the 7th spot in the playoffs. The 9th and 10th seed teams will play each other for a chance to play the loser of the Seven-Eight game.

The winner of that final matchup will get the 8th spot in the playoffs.