The 2021-22 NBA Regular Season schedule was officially released by the league on August 20, and as expected, the 82-game regular season will begin on October 19 and conclude on April 10, 2022.
This year is the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Season, and in honor of that, the league will feature 75 “Classic Matchups” over the course of the year including the opening night TNT doubleheader matching the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks against the host the Brooklyn Nets and the Golden State Warriors at the Los Angeles Lakers.
Also confirmed was the NBA’s five-game Christmas Day slate that will see the Atlanta Hawks play the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics against the defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, the Warriors vs the Phoenix Suns, the Nets vs the Lakers, and the Dallas Mavericks taking on the Utah Jazz in the nightcap.
Los Angeles Remains Favored
According to sports analytic site America Gambles, the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers open as co-favorites to win the NBA Championship next season at +325 respectively. This is unusual as both teams were eliminated early in last seasons playoffs, however, last season was anything but usual and both squads were marred by extenuating circumstances.
Brooklyn looked to be the team to beat after assembling Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden on a deep team led by rookie coach Steve Nash. yet the “Big Three” played just eight games together in the regular season and were without Harden and Irving during their second-round series loss against the Bucks.
The Lakers who along with the Miami Heat were coming off the shortest offseason in NBA History struggled through a season riddled with injury, with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis missing significant time in the regular season. The team limped into the playoffs which resulted in a quick first-round series loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Best of the Rest
Bookmakers currently have the Golden State Warriors trailing behind Brooklyn and Los Angeles with the third-best odds at +700. Golden State is coming off a busy off-season that saw them draft two Jonathan Kuminga (Round 1, #7) and Moses Moody (Round 1, #14), sign Nemanja Bjelica on a veteran’s minimum contract, to support Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson who returns after missing a year to injury.
Just past the Warriors are the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks at +750.
Rare is the defending champion at fourth-best odds, but that’s exactly where Milwaukee finds themselves and it seems fitting. Consider that only four teams since 2000 have repeated as champions, and that’s without acknowledging the fact that the Bucks struggled in the playoffs before Brooklyn broke down. Without adding anything significant, it looks to be an uphill battle this season to repeat.
From there, there’s a significant drop-off to the Suns and Los Angeles Clippers who are both at +1400. The Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard and despite the return of Chris Paul to Phoenix, it’s widely believed the Suns benefitted by meeting the Lakers early while the team was ravaged by injuries.
Rounding out the top 10 competitors are the Utah Jazz at +1800, the Philadelphia 76’ers at +2000, the Atlanta Hawks at +2200, and the Dallas Mavericks at +3000. The New York Knicks are at +4000, the Boston Celtics are +5000, and the Chicago Bulls are at +7500. At the bottom of the list are the Oklahoma Thunder and Houston Rockets, both listed at +50000.