LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - The National Basketball Association (NBA) is planning a Christmas feast for fans.
The Christmas Day schedule will feature a showdown between the star-studded Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
Following a shortened off-season, the 2021-22 regular season is scheduled to begin on Oct 19 with two games, also showcasing the Nets and Lakers. The champions Milwaukee Bucks host the Nets and the Lakers will be visited by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in a TNT doubleheader.
Other games on the Dec 25 slate include the Atlanta Hawks meeting the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in a rematch of the Hawks' first-round, five-game play-off series win, as well as Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks meeting Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.
The full schedule for the 82-game season will be released on Aug 20.
The first four days of the season will feature eight national television games and 12 different teams.
A match-up between the Nets and Lakers is a chance for fans to decide who has the better "big three" as the game - if all are healthy - would showcase Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving against the Los Angeles trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the newly acquired Russell Westbrook.
DraftKings lists the Nets (+210) and Lakers (+380) as big favorites to win the 2021-22 NBA title. BetMGM concurs, with the Nets posted at +240 and the Lakers at +400.
The 2022 NBA All-Star Game will take place on Feb 20, in Cleveland and air on TNT. The regular season is scheduled to end on April 10.
Following the April 12-15 play-in tournament, the NBA play-offs are scheduled to open on April 16.