The day is finally here. Tonight will be the long-awaited NBA tip-off to continue the 2019-20 season after the COVID-19 hiatus. Fans have gotten a sneak peek of what’s to come through the scrimmage games, but now every game counts. Two games with major playoff complications begin tonight.
NBA Tip-Off: What to Look For on Day One of the Restart
Game One: Pelicans versus Jazz
New Orleans is currently 10th in the West, and are trying to push their way into the eighth seed play-in games. Utah, on the other hand, will be in the playoffs but need to focus on seeding. The Denver Nuggets are 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz at third, while the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets trail the Jazz by just one game.
The Jazz lost one of their stars in Bojan Bogdanovic to injury during the hiatus, so they will be short-handed. The Pelicans will finally feature a fully healthy, and loaded roster.
All eyes, of course, will be on Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson. After missing the scrimmage games due to personal reasons, he should be good to go for the opening NBA tip-off. Williamson does a lot of his damage within the paint, so this game will be a true test for him with star defensive man Rudy Gobert defending the basket for the Jazz.
An increased workload will be placed on Jazz star Donovan Mitchell due to Bogdanovic’s absence. Mitchell is already the focal point of the team’s offense, but will surely have to take more shots now. His match-up versus the Pelicans’ defensive menace in Jrue Holiday will be another one to watch.
It can’t be lost in the Williamson hype that the Pelicans employ an All-Star in Brandon Ingram. Fans got a taste of what this healthy Pelicans line-up looks like before the hiatus, and it was a sight to see. Expect fireworks in the opening game.
Game Two: Lakers versus Clippers
The second game of the NBA tip-off opening night features the likely Western Conference Finals match-up.
The Los Angeles Lakers are close to having the first overall seed in the West tied up. The Los Angeles Clippers are second but aren’t very safe in that position just yet. The Nuggets trail the Clippers by a mere 1.5 games. With that being said, the Clippers are now healthy – something they haven’t been able to say for much of the season.
This game, of course, features four of the game’s biggest superstars in LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George. The two Los Angeles teams arguably have the two best duos in the league right now. James versus Leonard also typically calls for a classic duel.
Both teams also feature strong supporting casts. The Lakers have names such as Danny Green and Dwight Howard, while the Clippers have Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Marcus Morris. The Clippers also have Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams, but he will miss the opener due to quarantining.
Expect a real battle. The two teams know they’re major title favorites, and will play with that on the line. This game looks to be the first glimpse of a true “bubble playoff” atmosphere.
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