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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this June 5, 2019, file photo, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr speaks at a news conference after Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors in Oakland, Calif. Kerr knows that a new era of Warriors basketball is about to begin. He just doesn't know what that means yet. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

The NBA schedule is a little bit easier on players.

Fans might be catching a break -- and some more sleep -- as well.

The league announced its 2019-20 schedule on Monday, featuring another dip in back-to-back games for teams and a major change in the number of nationally televised games starting at 9:30 p.m. Central on the East coast. Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers will start several games a half-hour earlier than usual, while broadcasters ESPN and Turner are going to earlier start times on many of their midweek doubleheader nights.

Such a change has been on NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's mind for some time, especially since roughly half of the nation's television homes are in the Eastern time zone -- but now, a number of the league's biggest stars play on the West coast. It wasn't uncommon for nationally televised midweek games to end around midnight Central or even later last season, and that was not good for ratings.

And changes are definitely coming.

ESPN's Wednesday doubleheaders will begin earlier. TNT had nine Tuesday doubleheaders last season with the second game starting at 9:30 p.m. Central. This season that number is down to two, with the second game now mostly starting at 8:30 or 9 p.m.

In all, there were 57 games on national television starting at 9:30 p.m Central. last season. That number falls to 33 this season, a dip of 42 percent.

Other highlights from the 2019-20 schedule:


Toronto will get its rings on Oct. 22, when it plays host to New Orleans and No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. The Lakers -- now featuring Anthony Davis to play alongside LeBron James -- will play at the Clippers -- now featuring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George -- in the second half of that doubleheader, and that will be one of the 9:30 p.m. Central nationally televised midweek games that will otherwise be largely avoided this season.


Toronto gets to host a Christmas game for the first time, playing host to Boston at 11 a.m. Central. The other Christmas matchups (all times Central): Milwaukee at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m.; Houston at Golden State, 4 p.m.; Clippers at Lakers, 7 p.m.; New Orleans at Denver, 9:30 p.m.


There are 14 games scheduled for Jan. 20, the day honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., including the traditional home games for Atlanta (against Toronto) and Memphis (against New Orleans).


The stretches of four games in five days might be gone for good. This will be the third consecutive season where no team gets tasked with handling one of those. No team will play eight games in 12 days, either -- though there are 19 instances of teams having to play five times in a span of seven days.


The regular season ends with 13 games on April 15. Miami, Detroit, Denver and Utah all finish on April 14. The playoffs start April 18.

Sports on 08/13/2019

Print Headline: NBA TV games set for earlier schedule

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