The NBA is planning to return with a mad dash to the playoffs. Twenty-two teams will each play eight regular-season games over the course of 16 days in Orlando, Florida.
Twelve teams have already clinched a postseason berth, and 10 teams are vying for four playoff spots. None of the seeding has been determined.
Here’s a look at the best game each day for the rest of the 2019-2020 regular-season schedule.
July 30: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
This is likely a Western Conference Finals preview. When the season was suspended, LeBron James was playing better than anyone, while the Clippers had finally gotten into a groove with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing together on a consistent basis.
July 31: Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Many believe this will be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. It won’t take long before Milwaukee secures the East’s No.1 seed. Boston is likely locked in as the No.3 seed with four All-Star-caliber players on the roster.
Aug. 1: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Any game featuring Zion Williamson is must-see TV. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs against arguably the most talented defense in the conference.
Aug. 2: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets
Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden aren’t exactly best friends, considering the jabs each player took at the other in interviews earlier this season. Aside from the feud, this game features the last three MVP winners.
Aug 3: Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans
With New Orleans chasing Memphis for the No.8 seed, this game will be very important to the final standings. Plus, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are the NBA’s best pair of rookies in a long time.
Aug. 4: Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Miami needs to beat Boston to have any shot of catching the Celtics for the No.3 seed. Seeding isn’t nearly as important without home-court advantage, but moving out of the No.4 seed would allow the Heat to put off a potential matchup with the Bucks until the conference finals.
Aug. 5: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Before the season was suspended, Oklahoma City was the most pleasantly surprising team. Led by three guards that average at least 19.0 points per game, the Thunder will test the Lakers without Avery Bradley in the starting lineup
Aug. 6: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets
Houston contends that its small-ball lineup can lead it to a championship. Harden and the Rockets will have to go through the Lakers if they hope to get over the hump and reach the NBA Finals. Houston defeated Los Angeles at Staples Center right after the trade deadline.
Aug. 7: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
Who is the biggest threat to Milwaukee in the East? This game could provide some insight as to the answer. Even after losing the Leonard in free agency, Toronto is playing almost as well as it did a year ago in its championship season.
Aug. 8: Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets
Both Denver and Utah are contending to get the No.2 seed in the West. The Jazz and Nuggets might have only been fringe title contenders had the season continued uninterrupted. Could that change in such a weird year?
Aug. 9: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
This game has the most star power on the schedule. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are expected to be fully healthy in Orlando after battling injuries during the winter and spring. Damian Lillard is fifth in the NBA with 28.9 points per game.
Aug. 10: Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee looked to be on its way to the 2019 NBA Finals until it blew a 2-0 series lead against Toronto in the conference finals. The Bucks have defeated the Raptors in both of their regular-season meetings.
Aug. 11: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks
On a day without any marquee matchups, Lillard and Luka Doncic take center stage. Lillard scored 47 points while Dallas scored 133 points in a victory the last time these two teams met.
Aug. 12: Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Toronto and Philadelphia met in arguably the best playoff series last year. The 76ers have this game’s two biggest stars, but the Raptors have been the more consistent team all season long.
Aug. 13: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic
With two days left in the regular season, this might be the only game on the schedule that has any significance for both teams. Orlando enters the NBA’s restart as the No.8 seed, though they have a good chance to surpass the Brooklyn Nets as the No.7 seed.
Aug. 14: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Maybe some seeding in the West playoffs will be decided in this one. This matchup has a level of intrigue because of the blockbuster trade the teams executed last summer, as well as Chris Paul’s time as a Clipper.
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