NBA Return Schedule Released!
On Friday Jun 26, the NBA released the remaining regular season schedule for the 22 teams who are involved in the playoff hunt. As a reminder, each team will play 8 more regular season games to try and make the playoffs. The league attempted to keep a similar strength of schedule when formatting the remainder of the games, as well as tried to keep as many previously scheduled matchups in place. So where does that leave us? Let's take a look at the full schedule:
With the long hiatus of the season, almost every game will be a highlight for many NBA fans as they have had no basketball action since March. But the top 5 games for matchup and entertainment purposes will be the following:
1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers - Thu July 30, 6:30pm EST - TNT
This game may not have too much impact on standings as the Lakers hold a healthy lead atop the Western Conference, but the matchup between the top 2 contenders (sorry Milwaukee) will be a statement. It will be the second game back from the hiatus, and it will set the tone for a potential Western Conference Finals. We also get one more chance to see Lebron vs. Kawhi, as both battle to hold the title of best player in the NBA.
2. Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Thu July 30, 9:00pm EST - TNT
This is the first game of the NBA's return, and it features Zion Williamson and Rudy Gobert. Gobert's positive test for COVID-19 was the one that sent ripples across the sports world, and Zion is arguably the most marketable young star in the NBA. Great way to kick off the return!
3. Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics - Fri Aug 7, 9:00pm EST - TNT
This game might not feature the big name stars, but it will potentially have big implications in the Eastern Conference standings. The Raptors sit 3 games ahead of Boston coming in to the re-start, with both teams playing the same amount of games (thus the same potential win-percentage, which is how final standings are determined). Boston winning this game could close that gap to a 2 game difference, and secure Boston the tie-breaker based on the head-to-head matchup. This will be a big game to decide who will finish 2nd in the East!
4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets - Thu Aug 6, 9:00 EST - TNT
Let's face it, the NBA is all about star power, and this game is full of some of the NBA's most notable. We get the duo's of Lebron-Davis matching up against Harden-Westbrook in a potential Western Conference playoff preview. Houston was one team that many suggested could be a dark horse before the break with their outrageous 3-point shooting style of play.
5. Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans - Mon Aug 3, 4:00pm EST
If the NBA came back with the top 8 teams from each conference, then Memphis would have locked in the final spot in the Western Conference. Instead, they will need to fight to stay out of a play-in, and the team they are most likely to battle will be the New Orleans Pelicans. That makes this Monday afternoon tilt one with some potential bad blood. More than that, you'll get the top 2 players in this year's rookie class squaring off with Ja Morant and Zion Williamson!
There is a lot to look forward to with the release of the schedule! Basketball finally feels like it is coming back. As always let's hope the players and all support staff can stay healthy when we finally do return.
Which games are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comment section below!
Click here to see which teams may have gained and advantage, and which teams may have caught a bad break with the new schedule.