NBA releases shorter preseason schedule; games start Dec. 11

(AP) — The NBA released a condensed 49-game preseason schedule Friday, with teams playing between two and four games starting on Dec. 11.

Preseason contests will continue through Dec. 19. Teams begin training camps next week.

The league plans to reveal the first half of the 72-game regular season schedule — that meaning games to be played between Dec. 22 and March 4 — in the coming days. Games for the season’s second half, scheduled as between March 11 and May 16, will be revealed around the midpoint of the season.

The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will play on the first night of the preseason, technically a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Lakers play the Clippers twice in the preseason, then two games at Phoenix and new Suns guard Chris Paul as well.

The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat are scheduled for only two preseason games — at home Dec. 14 against New Orleans and new Pelicans coach (and former Heat coach) Stan Van Gundy, then on Dec. 18 in Toronto’s first game at its temporary home in Tampa, Florida. The Raptors are going to open this season in Tampa because the U.S-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

That Dec. 18 game is Toronto’s lone home game on the preseason schedule.

Orlando, Atlanta, New York, Detroit, Houston, Chicago, Sacramento, Portland, Charlotte, Phoenix, Memphis, Cleveland and the Lakers are all scheduled to play four preseason contests.

Minnesota, Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Dallas, Milwaukee, Toronto, Denver, Washington, Utah, Indiana and the Clippers have three preseason games apiece on their schedules.

Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, the Pelicans and the Heat opted for two-game preseasons.

Brooklyn’s preseason opener — and presumably the first time that Kevin Durant, who missed last season while recovering from surgery to repair his Achilles tendon, plays for the Nets — is at home on Dec. 13 against Washington. That is also the Wizards’ preseason opener, so it could be the first instance of Washington guard John Wall playing in an NBA game since Dec. 26, 2018; he missed much of the 2018-19 season and all of last season following separate surgeries on his heel and Achilles tendon.

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