On Friday, June 26, the NBA and NBA Players Association announced the finalized schedule for the resumption of the 2019-2020 regular season. Beginning July 30, the 22 teams invited to the NBA Disney Bubble in Orlando, Florida., will each play eight “seeding games” for playoff standings. Many of these games will be must-watch for the NBA restart.
After more than three months without basketball, the NBA has gifted fans with two-plus weeks of basketball overload. Fans can circle opening night as the NBA highlights its biggest stars. First, Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans take on the Utah Jazz before a meeting of the top teams and players in the Western Conference. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers square off against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers. The opening games are only the beginning, with a plethora of must-watch games coming up for the NBA restart
The Must-Watch Games for NBA Restart
Saturday, August 1: Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets, 1 pm ET on ESPN
Sitting in the top half of their respective conferences, both the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets have legitimate championship aspirations. Before the league’s pandemic hiatus, the Nuggets were on pace to win 54 games for the second-straight season. And despite a positive COVID-19 diagnosis last week, Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has reportedly lost 40 pounds and transformed his body during the break. The team will likely finish as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed with confidence to make noise in the playoffs.
The Heat are loaded on both sides of the ball, led by their superstar Jimmy Butler. Bam Adebayo is a problem for teams in the paint and the team is laden with talented shooters and wings; from playoff-experienced and trade-deadline acquisition Andre Iguodala to Derrick Jones Jr. and Tyler Herro.
Sunday, August 2: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets, 8:30 pm ET on ABC
While these two teams may not sit close in the overall power rankings, this game offers fans a good look at the Houston Rockets playoff chances. The Rockets have implemented a new-age small lineup this season with stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden. P.J. Tucker, standing only 6-foot-5, rounds out the lineup as the shortest starting center in the league. Can the Rockets survive defensively playing so small?
There’s no better offensive test than Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee is the clear-cut best team in the league this year, thanks to another MVP-caliber season from Antetokounmpo. The “Greek Freak” is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game this year, leading the Bucks to a 53-12 record. Add in the shooting touch of Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez. That’s why the Bucks are the best offense in the league ahead of the NBA restart.
Monday, August 3: Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 6:30 pm ET on ESPN
Every time the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans square off, NBA fans are tuning in to watch the future of the league. In their rookie campaigns, with one seeing only 19 games, star rookies Ja Morant and Zion Williamson have left fans wanting more.
It appears that Morant and the Grizzlies will finish as the No. 8 seed in the West and the Pelicans are loaded with young talent: Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball. Fans, and perhaps league officials, are hoping that the Pelicans can clinch a play-in series against the Grizzlies under this season’s unique playoff rules. If the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed, that would trigger a play-in scenario (best two of three, No. 8 seed starts series up, 1-0).
Friday, August 7: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors, 9 pm ET on TNT
This matchup features two teams that reached last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Yes, the Toronto Raptors are without Kawhi Leonard, but the reigning champs have rattled off 46 wins this season and the No. 2 seed in the conference. Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Marc Gasol are eager to prove this team’s legitimacy.
An incredibly deep and talented team, some experts pick the Boston Celtics as a darkhorse to win the title this year. If Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown can continue to find chemistry down the stretch, this team is absolutely in contention to win it all.
Other Games to Watch
Some other highlights of the schedule include:
- There will be 16-straight days of NBA games beginning July 30
- A maximum of seven games per day
- Tip-offs range from noon ET to 9 pm ET
- A total of three courts; two of which are set up for nationally broadcast games
- The No. 9 seeds in each conference will have a chance to play into the playoffs. If the No. 9 seed finishes within four games of the No. 8 seed, that would trigger a play-in scenario (best two of three, No. 8 seed starts series up, 1-0)
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