5 must-watch games for the restart of the 2019-20 NBA season
The NBA has released its schedule for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. The 22 selected teams will play eight regular-season games before playoff seeding is determined, and here are five games you can’t afford to miss.
The Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic will play twice over the restart, but those games will likely just decide the seventh and eighth spots in the East, as the Nets hold a half-game lead over the Magic.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will meet at the main event of the bubble games opening day, but since it’s the first game that both teams will play in a long while, the level of play is quite questionable. Still, it makes for an interesting storyline.
The NBA restart full schedule: pic.twitter.com/lvBDUFSYOl
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 26, 2020
5. Portland Trail Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies — [July 31]
This is a scorcher right out of the bat. The Blazers were the team with the most to lose if the NBA season went straight into the playoffs, as they trailed the Grizzlies by 3.5 games and were the closest team that could sneak into the postseason.
Portland will count on Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins getting back from injury, while Memphis will have Jaren Jackson Jr. and rookie Brandon Clarke back in the mix.
A win for the Blazers would inch them a full game closer and keep them in range to make that play-in tournament that would qualify them for the playoffs. Portland would need to win two in a row against the eighth-seeded Grizzlies, who would need a lone victory to seal their spot in the West’s final eight.
4. Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets — [August 2]
The Bucks were the first team to draw blood by winning on the road during their season opener. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo filled the stat sheet with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists before fouling out and earning bragging rights over rival James Harden.
The Greek Freak and The Beard have traded barbs since before the 2019-20 season even started. Harden was irked by the way the MVP voting went down last season, claiming he was more deserving of the award.
That was followed by Antetokounmpo openly dissing Harden by failing to acknowledge him as an option in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game Draft, bypassing him for Kemba Walker. The antics only continued during and after the game as the saga lived on.
This game has all the makings of a barnburner with two former MVPs going at each other’s throats.
3. New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies — [August 3]
If you didn’t get your fix of the top two picks of the 2019 NBA Draft going against one another, don’t you worry: the NBA’s got you covered.
The Pelicans won both prior matchups — the first with rookie Ja Morant available and the second with Zion Williamson playing his fifth NBA game while Morant was sidelined with an injury. Morant dropped 16 points and nine assists in the loss during the first meeting, while Williamson put up a then-career-high 24 points in a blowout win in the second game.
These two rookie standouts missed each other in their two meetings, but they’re expected to take the floor upon the restart, finishing the rest of their season series.
This gets even more interesting considering the Pelicans are one of the four teams in the race for the eighth spot.
2. Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers (twice) — [August 10 and 14]
Heat forward Jimmy Butler made a promise to T.J. Warren after the two finished their last meeting on Jan.8, noting he had already marked the calendar for Mar. 20, the next time their teams would meet.
As fate and Mother Nature would have it, that meeting would be delayed a good five months, as the coronavirus pandemic struck the globe and the NBA was forced to suspend the 2019-20 season until a later date.
That date has now come around, as Butler and Warren will resume their beef, likely guarding one another again unless head coach Nate McMillan takes on Butler’s advice to never put Warren on him again.
If the on-the-court drama is not your thing, there are plenty of other implications here. The Heat have a two-game lead on the Pacers for the fourth spot in the East. if Indiana wins both games and ties the season series after losing the first two earlier this season, they could finish with the better record before potentially meeting again in the first round of the playoffs.
1. Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors — [August 7]
In a clash of Eastern Conference titans, the Celtics would need a win here to even dream about catching up to the Raptors, barring a disastrous fall for the latter.
Boston is three full games behind Toronto but could benefit from stealing the second seed in the East, avoiding a potentially dangerous Philadelphia 76ers team or a reloaded Indiana Pacers squad with a healthier Victor Oladipo, assuming he plays.
It’s worth noting the Celtics have a 2-1 season series lead, so winning another one would give them the much-needed tiebreaker to leapfrog the defending champions in the standings.
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