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Bleacher Report 20 August, 2021 - 07:33pm 29 views

When will the NBA season start?

NBA schedule for 2021-22 season. After playing 72 games last season, NBA teams will return to the usual 82-game slate for the 2021-22 campaign. Here's a breakdown of 2021-22 NBA calendar: Regular season: Oct. 19, 2021-April 10, 2022. Sporting NewsWhen does the NBA season start in 2021? Opening Night, Christmas Day schedules revealed

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The Brooklyn Nets, the consensus favorites to win the title, opened at a league-best 54.5 wins at Caesars Sportsbook after the NBA released its full 2021-22 schedule on Friday.

The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are next at 53.5. The Bucks host the Nets on opening night, Oct. 19. Milwaukee is an early 1-point favorite over Brooklyn in the season opener.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz each opened at 51.5, and the Phoenix Suns were set at 50.5, rounding out the teams with opening win totals in the 50s.

After last season's abbreviated 72-game regular season, the NBA returns to its traditional 82-game slate. Caesars posted win totals on each team and allows bettors to wager on over or under.

The win totals for the 2021-22 NBA season, as set by Caesars Sportsbook on Friday.

The Nets won 48 games last season, a winning percentage of .667. Their opening win total of 54.5 reflects a nearly identical win percentage this regular season.

The Lakers won 42 games last regular season, a .583 winning percentage, which was just enough to sneak into the play-in tournament for the playoffs. The Lakers advanced out of the play-in tournament but promptly lost to the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. They went to work in the offseason to rebuild their roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, adding veterans Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, among others.

Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said that while Westbrook positively impacted the Lakers' win total, he's not sure how interested any of the top teams will be during the regular season.

"That's why you see the highest total at an unusually low 54.5," Pullen told ESPN. "All that matters is keeping players healthy. Just no reason to go all out in the regular season anymore. Load management is the name of the game."

The Lakers have been installed as 4.5-point favorites over the Golden State Warriors in their season opener.

The Warriors, who are hoping to have sharpshooter Klay Thompson back in the mix this season, lead the next tier of teams at Caesars Sportsbook with a win total of 48.5. The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat are next, each opening at 47.5.

The Oklahoma City Thunder opened with the lowest season win total at 22.5, with the Orlando Magic next up at 23.5.

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Here are the top 20 must-see games on the NBA calendar for the 2021-22 season

USA TODAY 21 August, 2021 - 01:10pm

The NBA calendar returns to a full 82-game schedule per team after pandemic-shortened seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Sports Seriously: Mackenzie Salmon and Lorenzo Reyes discuss what the NBA got right and who got snubbed from the league's Christmas Day showcase. USA TODAY

Three days after the NBA announced its Christmas and opening week games, the league released the full 2021-22 schedule on Friday.

The NBA returns to an 82-game schedule per team after pandemic-shortened seasons in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

This season begins Oct. 19, pauses for the Feb. 20 All-Star Game in Cleveland and the regular season ends April 10. The play-in games are April 12-15 with the playoffs beginning April 16 and the Finals starting June 2.

We take a look at the top 20 must-see games for next season (not including Christmas games and opening-night games):

Knicks new point guard Kemba Walker gets a chance to show the division rival Celtics they made a mistake by trading him.

The Sixers were extinguished in the second round, and while the playoffs complete the story, games like this will help fill in the blanks of what the Sixers’ season will – or will not – be.

The 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham and No. 2 pick Jalen Green meet for the first time, but which team picked the better player won’t be known for at least a few seasons.

Even two years after his free agency, the intrigue surrounding Kevin Durant’s time in Golden State and subsequent departure remains intriguing.

Adding Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker to Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson should put the Heat back in a spot to compete with the Bucks for the East title.

Just about two months into the season, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard should know know if he has the kind of team he thinks can compete for a title under first-time head coach Chauncey Billups.

The Sixers and Nets were 1-2 in the East last year and both should be competing for that top spot again this season.

Two small-market teams hope that continuity and elite big men (Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Denver’s Nikola Jokic) will help them remain competitive in a crowded Western Conference landscape.

Sandwich between a game at Miami and at Philadelphia, the Lakers get the Nets in Brooklyn during a six-game road trip.

Longtime Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, now with the Heat, makes his return to Toronto where he will be warmly received for his tenure with the franchise, which included a 2019 championship.

It never becomes old to see two top picks in the 2018 NBA Draft face off in Dallas’ Luka Doncic (No. 3) and Atlanta’s Trae Young (No. 5).

This game will yield bragging rights within the Ball family, with Lonzo, who signed a free agent deal with the Bulls last month, hoping that his experience can trump LaMelo’s talent.

This might not spark the same sizzle as the past two years, but the L.A. series always produces fireworks and emotions.

The Bulls made major moves, acquiring DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball to put next to Zach LaVine and Nik Vucevic, and the Bulls are out to prove they’re among the top teams in the East.

For the first time ever, both California teams could finally have enough healthy star power for this matchup to become an actual rivalry.

It may no longer be an NBA Finals preview, but it will capture how each team has progressed since playing each other for the title last June.

By the time this matchup rolls around, featuring two of the major stars of 2019 draft – Zion Williamson and Ja Morant – both teams will know how close to making the playoffs they are.

A rematch of last year’s first-round series won by Atlanta, featuring two teams on the rise in the East with a mixture of young talent and solid veterans.

This late-season contest may have an impact on the No. 1 seed in the East. Either way, it’s another star-laden potential playoff matchup between the defending champs with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the team trying to win a championship with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.

It won’t exactly rectify their first-round loss to Phoenix, but the Lakers could be facing the Suns with a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a late-season game with playoff implications.

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Every NBA Team's Win-Loss Predictions After Full 2021-22 Schedule Release

Bleacher Report 21 August, 2021 - 01:10pm

Now that the NBA has released the full schedule for the 2021-22 season, it's time to opine on the win totals each of the league's 30 squads will reach.

Returning contenders like the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers won't be too difficult to peg. Few can predict exact win totals, but it's safe to say those teams will clear 50.

Others are tougher, like the new-look Chicago Bulls. They now have plenty of talent, but how will DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic fit together?

Which teams will make the biggest leaps from their 2020-21 records? Is anyone on the verge of a collapse?

Over/unders can provide some clues, but answers to questions like those above require a deeper dive.

Brooklyn Nets: 54-28

PointsBet gave the odds the highest projected win total (via the Action Network), and it isn't hard to see why. Even with Kyrie Irving out and James Harden hobbled, they were within inches (literally) of eliminating the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.

If Kevin Durant, Irving and Harden are all healthy, Brooklyn will be dominant. That trio had a plus-11.1 net rating last season. And the supporting cast, which includes Joe Harris, Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin, Patty Mills, James Johnson and promising rookie Cam Thomas should be better as well.

The only thing preventing a 60-plus-win prediction is that health and availability is far from a given with this team.

Philadelphia 76ers: 50-32

The possibility of a Ben Simmons trade still looms over the Philadelphia 76ers, and whoever returns in that potential trade would have a major impact on their 2021-22 win total. For now, we'll assume that team president Daryl Morey gets solid value and a player who'll better complement MVP candidate Joel Embiid.

Assuming Philly has a roster that can more effectively play four-out, one-in basketball around Embiid, it should remain on the bubble for Tier 1 contenders.

Boston Celtics: 47-35

After a tumultuous 2020-21 campaign, the Boston Celtics appear poised for a comeback.

Al Horford's playmaking and floor-spacing is back, which should open up the inside for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Marcus Smart should get his first crack at being the Celtics' primary point guard. And Dennis Schroder, Payton Pritchard, Josh Richardson, Aaron Nesmith, Robert Williams and Enes Kanter add intriguing depth across several positions.

But mostly, this significant bump in winning percentage (they were .500 last year) is a nod to the upward trajectory of Brown and Tatum.

New York Knicks: 46-36

The New York Knicks were perhaps the biggest surprise of this past season, thanks in large part to Julius Randle's All-NBA campaign.

With him back and Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier replacing Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock, you'd think this team would be a near-lock to improve. Consider this conservative prediction something of a hedge against possible regression from a few holdovers and the expected improvement in Boston.

Toronto Raptors: 34-48

With Fred VanVleet (27), Gary Trent Jr. (22), OG Anunoby (24), Pascal Siakam (27) and Chris Boucher (28), the Toronto Raptors return a solid, relatively young core for the post-Kyle Lowry era.

But with apologies to Siakam (who did make an All-Star appearance in 2019-20), it's hard to find a surefire face-of-the-franchise level talent. And in a division that figures to be one of this season's most competitive, Toronto looks like the odd team out of the playoff picture.

Milwaukee Bucks: 54-28

Don't expect much of a Finals hangover from the Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and every other key piece from the title run is back aside from P.J. Tucker. Plus, George Hill and Grayson Allen will bolster a backcourt rotation that will get Donte DiVincenzo back from injury.

A fourth straight MVP-caliber season from Giannis, backed by a strong supporting cast, will have Milwaukee pushing into the high 50s this season.

Chicago Bulls: 47-35

All of the doubt regarding the Chicago Bulls' defense is probably warranted. And yes, both DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have historically been high-usage players. But the amount of offensive talent here feels like too much to fail.

Last season, Nikola Vucevic, LaVine, DeRozan and Lonzo Ball ranked 17th, 18th, 28th and 76th, respectively, in offensive box plus/minus. And the lowest mark for assists per 75 possessions among those four was Vooch's 4.2.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan has a track record of making mid-range attacks work, too. With the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019-20, he led Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder to an unexpected playoff appearance.

Indiana Pacers: 44-38

The 2020-21 Indiana Pacers were one of the league's most injury-impacted teams, according to Man Games Lost's lost win shares metric.

If they can return to some semblance of decent health, new head coach Rick Carlisle should have them back in the playoff hunt. Last season, they missed out for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

On paper, a starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner should be competitive in most games.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 25-57

Development isn't always linear, but it's probably safe to expect some improvement from Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro. With the addition of Evan Mobley, that sounds like a recipe for noticeable team improvement, too.

However, several organizations in the Eastern Conference took more dramatic steps forward. That means the Cleveland Cavaliers will sort of spin their wheels in 2021-22, at least in terms of raw winning percentage. 

           

Detroit Pistons: 23-59

The Detroit Pistons' outlook probably reads much like that of the Cavs'. Killian Hayes is certainly harder to project than Sexton or Garland, but he's young enough to improve. Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey should be better, too. And 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham looks like the right kind of facilitator to bind everything together.

Throw in veterans like returning forward Jerami Grant and newcomer Kelly Olynyk, and it feels relatively safe to predict some improvement. However, this team isn't likely to take a major step forward because of what happened around the rest of the East.

Utah Jazz: 53-29

The Utah Jazz had the NBA's best record last season, and they added some intriguing depth this summer. Hassan Whiteside is two seasons removed from a strong campaign for the Portland Trail Blazers, and Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall open up the possibility for small-ball lineups.

Adding that to the team that played at a 59-win pace last season suggests Utah should at least hold steady in terms of wins and losses in 2020-21. But playing at that level for two straight years is rare, and Mike Conley has struggled with availability for much of the last four seasons. 

Those factors along with improvement from a handful of Western Conference teams will slow the Jazz down a bit.

Denver Nuggets: 49-33

The Denver Nuggets' shot at a 50-win season will be impacted by Jamal Murray's recovery from a torn ACL, but the presence of MVP Nikola Jokic and continued improvement from Michael Porter Jr. will have them in that hunt.

In every season of his career, the Nuggets have been at least solid with Jokic on the floor, including two sub-.500 campaigns in 2015-16 and 2016-17. And MPJ already looks like a near-perfect floor-spacer alongside him. Last season, he averaged 24.0 points per 75 possessions with an absurd 67.2 true shooting percentage when Murray was off the floor.

With role players like Monte Morris, Will Barton and Aaron Gordon surrounding those two, Denver should be in decent shape until Murray returns.

Portland Trail Blazers: 45-37

Minnesota Timberwolves: 35-47

Oklahoma City Thunder: 17-65

Los Angeles Lakers: 53-29

The Pacific Division may be the NBA's best in 2021-22, and the Los Angeles Lakers should still manage to be the king of that hill.

Even when accounting for the time it will take for Russell Westbrook and LeBron James to figure out how to play together, as well as the time LeBron and Anthony Davis might miss because of injuries, it's hard to imagine this amount of talent falling shy of 50 wins.

Considering the amount of shooting that vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka found in the minimum-contract market, it's even easier to make that prediction.

Golden State Warriors: 50-32

In 2020-21, the Warriors were plus-7.6 points per 100 possessions (89th percentile) when Stephen Curry and Draymond Green were both on the floor, and they were plus-14.7 when those two played without Kelly Oubre Jr. Now, just imagine Klay Thompson, whether he's entirely his pre-injury self or not, playing Oubre's 30.7 minutes.

Assuming decent health, Otto Porter Jr. should help as well. Over his last five seasons, he's hit 42.1 percent of his three-point attempts, and his teams' net ratings are 6.3 points better when he plays.

If Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman and an aging Andre Iguodala can lift the Warriors' ceiling at all, they should be back in the top tier of contenders.

Phoenix Suns: 50-32

Phoenix Suns fans will rightfully recoil at this prediction after their team won 51 games in a 72-game season and represented the Western Conference in the Finals. They were one of 2020-21's most fortunate teams on the health front, though, with the third-fewest games missed because of injury.

With Chris Paul entering his age-36 season, it's fair to wonder if his own durability may wane a bit, too.

Los Angeles Clippers: 43-39

Sacramento Kings: 33-49

Miami Heat: 48-34

With the addition of Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, the Miami Heat likely got better this offseason. However, it's fair to wonder how much better.

Lowry is entering his age-35 season, has struggled with durability for two years and just posted his lowest BPM since 2009-10. Tucker is 36 and was 340th in BPM in 2020-21. Jimmy Butler, 31, will be a year older, too.

Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson can conceivably stem the aging tide, but it feels like Miami is slightly behind the East's top tier.

Atlanta Hawks: 46-36

This record would mean the Atlanta Hawks experience a slight decrease in winning percentage, which may seem like a stretch given the age of their core and the additions of Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng.

If Trae Young, John Collins, Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter all improve, Atlanta could indeed push toward or beyond 50 wins. Like others discussed, though, the Hawks are up against a conference featuring several teams that made major offseason upgrades.

The Hawks feasibly could play better without posting a better winning percentage.

Charlotte Hornets: 43-39

Washington Wizards: 41-41

Orlando Magic: 17-65

Dallas Mavericks: 49-33

There aren't many superlatives left to describe Luka Doncic. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged 28.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists. He nearly averaged a triple-double at the Tokyo Olympics. And he's the current favorite to win MVP this season, per FanDuel Sportsbook. The 22-year old is magnificent.

The problem remains his supporting cast. When healthy and engaged, Kristaps Porzingis is a high-end No. 2, but he often fails to check both boxes. Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber, Jalen Brunson and a handful of Dallas centers are solid, but none are stars.

Still, a solid supporting cast should be enough for Luka to lead Dallas to somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 wins.

Memphis Grizzlies: 42-40

The Memphis Grizzlies took a bunch of swings this offseason. In exchange for the offensive reliability of Jonas Valanciunas, they've added more of a rim runner in Steven Adams and question marks in the form of Sam Merrill, Daniel Oturu, Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez.

If one of those youngsters hits and Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke take a step forward, the Grizzlies could push closer to the mid-40s.

New Orleans Pelicans: 42-40

As individual additions, Devonte' Graham, Tomas Satoransky and Valanciunas all make sense, but were they worth the loss of Lonzo Ball? Over their two seasons together, the Pelicans were plus-5.8 points per 100 possessions when Zion Williamson played with Lonzo and minus-2.2 when Zion played without him.

San Antonio Spurs: 32-50

The San Antonio Spurs have some intriguing young players such as Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl. It should be fun to see Doug McDermott go full McBuckets on a roster devoid of stars. And solid vets like Derrick White, Thaddeus Young and Bryn Forbes will have their moments.

But in the Western Conference, San Antonio will be at a talent deficit in most matchups.

Houston Rockets: 18-64

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6 takeaways from the Warriors schedule release

Fadeaway World 21 August, 2021 - 09:02am

The Dubs 2021-22 NBA schedule is here.

The season starts on Oct. 19 with a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers, and concludes on April 10 when the Dubs head to Louisiana to take on the New Orleans Pelicans. In between, 80 other games will take place. Here are six takeaways from the schedule drop.

Remember last year, when we had exciting hopes for the Warriors, and they kicked off the season against the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, widely regarded as the two best teams in the East?

Those were barometer games. We’d get to see just how good the Warriors were.

Turns out not very good. While the Warriors would recover and play quality basketball by the end of the season, they lost those first two games by a combined 65 points, and it would be months before the sour taste of harsh reality was out of their mouths.

The Dubs kick things off with another set of barometer games this year. On Opening Night, they travel to SoCal to take on the LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Lakers, seen by most as favorites in the Western Conference.

Two days later the Warriors are at home hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard, but are still one of the top teams in the West, with a two-way star in Paul George, a wildly deep lineup, and a top coach in Ty Lue.

The Warriors don’t need to go 2-0 in these games, but we will learn a lot about how competitive the team is. Let’s just hope they don’t lose by 65.

Immediately after the barometers come some highly winnable games, as the Warriors spend the next month playing a very light schedule.

From Oct. 24 through Nov. 21, the Dubs play the Oklahoma City Thunder (twice), Charlotte Hornets (twice), Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, and Toronto Raptors.

That is a wildly easy schedule (in NBA terms, at least), and that’s before you consider that it has an eight-game home stand in the middle of it. The Dubs should have a prime opportunity to build up a nice record by the time Klay Thompson returns.

Remember the All-Star break last season? Remember how the Warriors were finally finding rhythm, then dropped three-straight heading into the game, and faced a truly brutal schedule on the other side of it?

They have a similar situation this year. Their final three games before the Feb. 20 All-Star Game come against the Lakers, Clippers, and Denver Nuggets. After the break they’re met with this eight-game doozy of a drive: at the Portland Trail Blazers, vs. the Dallas Mavericks, at the Timberwolves, at the Mavericks, at the Lakers, vs. the Clippers, at the Nuggets, and vs. the Bucks.

41 of the Warriors 82 games are on ESPN, TNT, ABC, or NBA TV this year. So if you’re a non-Bay Area resident who cuts cords and just watches on League Pass, you’ll only be able to see half the season live.

The Warriors are going to get some stretches in the season where they can really get used to the feel of their own beds. From Oct. 28 through Nov. 12 they play eight straight home games. Then in late January they have a seven-game home stand.

They still play 41 games at home and 41 on the road, as in any 82-game season, but at least they’ll have sustained stretches at home to gain momentum and be with their families.

The Warriors may have missed the playoffs last year, but the NBA chose them as one of four teams to play on Opening Night, and matched up against the most popular team and player in the league in LeBron’s Lakers. There are eight nationally televised game in the league’s push to have an “Opening Week,” and the Dubs are in two of those eight games.

They play on Christmas, against the Phoenix Suns. They have MLK Day off this year, but, as previously mentioned, play half of their games on national TV.

The Warriors may not be coming off a good season, but they’re still one of the biggest draws in the league, and for one reason: Steph Curry.

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