The NBA is back and the official schedule is finally out. The players are getting themselves ready while fans like us can’t wait to see our favorite players and teams back on the hardcourt. Nevermind if there won’t be home and away games plus there won’t be fans cheering their favorite teams from the venue. Forget the fact that the regular season has been shortened. The NBA will resume action on June 30, 2020, and we are very excited.
Let’s take a look at the can’t miss games of the 2020 NBA restart:
New Orleans Pelicans vs Utah Jazz
- 7/30/20, 6:30 PM ET @ TNT
- Odds from BetOnline as of 07/01/2020: Jazz +2 (105) | Pelicans -2 (-115)
This is the first official NBA game since March 12, 2020, and that alone is a big reason why this is a can’t miss game. Then there is Zion Williamson, the #1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft who didn’t see action until January 2020 due to injury. Williamson has keyed the Pelicans’ resurgence and he’s one of the big reasons why they were invited to the restart. As for Utah, the Jazz were the team that caused the suspension of the league last March. Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and he infected teammate Donovan Mitchell with the virus. Both have recovered but it remains to be seen if Gobert and Mitchell can still work as a duo after what happened.
Los Angeles Lakers vs L.A. Clippers
- 07/30/2020 9 PM ET TNT
- Odds from BetOnline as of 07/01/2020: Lakers -1 (-110) | Clippers +1 (-110)
What list of can’t miss games doesn’t include a showdown between the cross-town rivals of Los Angeles? The Lakers have a firm hold of the #1 seed in the Western Conference but the Clippers are in 2nd place, 5.5 games behind the Purple and Gold. The Clippers won their first two meetings of the season but the Lakers stormed back with a statement win last March 8th, right before the season was suspended. These teams are the top betting favorites to win the West and the 2020 NBA title so this should be a good one. The Clippers could be without Lou Williams who is still undecided if he will play in the restart. Meanwhile, J.R. Smith will play his first game of the season for the Lakers. So will Joakim Noah for the Clippers.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Memphis Grizzlies
- 07/31/2020 4 PM ET NBATV
- Odds from BetOnline as of 07/01/2020: Blazers -1 (-110) | Grizzlies +1 (-110)
The Blazers trail the Grizzlies by 3.5 games in the Western Conference team standings and if they can open the restart with a win over Memphis, that lead will be cut down by one game. The race for the 8th seed in the West is furious and neither team can afford a loss here. Portland is led by Damian Lillard while Memphis’ main man is rookie point guard Ja Morant and it’s going to be a terrific point guard matchup between the two. Jusuf Nurkic is expected to make his season debut for the Blazers who will be without Trevor Ariza who has decided to sit out due to family reasons.
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks
- 07/31/2020 6:30 PM ET, ESPN
- Odds from BetOnline as of 07/01/2020: Celtics +5 (-110) | Bucks -5 (-110)
The Celtics were the third team in the East to clinch a playoff spot after the Bucks and Wizards. Boston is a far 9.5 games behind the Bucks in the team standings and with only 8 games in the seeding phase, there aren’t enough games to catch up. The Celtics boast of their dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who have been terrific this season. Tatum earned his first All-Star selection this season while Brown has emerged as a 20-point scorer for the Men in Green. The Bucks meanwhile are the #1 team in the NBA and have been such since the start of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been dominant on both ends of the floor and this could be a preview of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets
- 08/02/2020 8:30 P.M. ET, ABC
The Bucks defense has been one of the best in the history of the NBA and it will be put to test against Houston’s dynamic duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook who know how to put up points on the board in a hurry. The Bucks are sitting pretty on top of the East and the league right now while the Rockets are still trying to climb up to the Top 4. The Rockets have decided to go small-ball and it will be interesting to see how that strategy fares against a team led by a seven-footer who can play positions one to five. And yes, before I forget, the NBA MVPs for the last three seasons will be playing in this game so yeah, it’s gonna be fun to watch.
Memphis Grizzlies vs New Orleans Pelicans
- 08/03/2020 6:30 P.M. ET, ESPN
This is another important game in the battle for the 8th seed in the Western Conference as the Pelicans hope to chop down Memphis’ lead over them in the team standings. Right now, New Orleans is 3.5 games back of Memphis and the Pelicans are tied with the Blazers and Kings for the 9th spot. Every game in this 8-game seeding phase is important not just for New Orleans but for Memphis. In this game, we will see the Top 2 picks of the 2019 NBA Draft not only trying to lead their respective teams to the playoffs but also trying to outdo each other for the right to be named as the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year. Ja Morant has been the best rookie since the start of the season but Zion Williamson has shown in his limited time that he is as good as advertised.
Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers
- 08/06/2020 9 P.M. ET, TNT
The Rockets’ decision to go small ball will be put to test here as they face the #1 team in the West in the Lakers. Los Angeles is the oddsmakers’ current betting favorite to win the NBA title and they have a massive frontline led by Anthony Davis and LeBron James. With Davis’ ability to play the four position, the Lakers can add a third big man to the lineup by inserting Javale McGee or Dwight Howard. The Rockets’ P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington will have their work cut out for them but with an explosive backcourt of former MVPs Harden and Westbrook, the Rockets look to prove that they belong to the cream of the crop in the West.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors
- 08/10/2020 6:30 P.M. ET, ESPN
Before the Toronto Raptors can think about defending their crown at the NBA Finals, they will first have to go through the Milwaukee Bucks who are the #1 team in their conference. These two teams met at the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals last year and it was Kawhi Leonard who starred and led the Raptors to a victory that left Giannis Antetokounmpo crying in the tunnel heading to the dugout after his team was eliminated. Leonard is with the Clippers now and the Bucks have been on a mission this season. Vengeance will be on the mind of Milwaukee and even if they have the #1 seed all but locked up, I think we’re going to see the Bucks’ best game here because it’s not just a game. This is an emerging rivalry in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers
- 08/12/2020 6:30 P.M. ET, ESPN
The Sixers had an underwhelming 2019-20 season but the league hiatus should’ve given Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons more than enough time to recuperate after the Sixers’ young duo played hurt and banged up during the regular season. Embiid is one of the best centers in the league and Simmons is one of the most talented point guards in the game and they have what it takes to give the Bucks a challenge, not just in this game but also in the playoffs. Milwaukee boasts of excellent teamwork but the Sixers have a talented trio in Embiid, Simmons, and Tobias Harris. If Philly puts its mind and heart to win the title and if Embiid and Simmons are 100%, don’t blink on this team.
L.A Clippers vs OKC Thunder
- 08/14/2020, TBD
These two teams figures in a massive trade during the offseason. The Thunder traded Paul George to the Clippers and OKC got Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return. OKC also swapped Russell Westbrook for Chris Paul during the summer and so this season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for OKC. However, Paul, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Gallinari have jelled well and they have helped the Thunder get into playoff position before the season was suspended. The Clippers are led by George and Kawhi Leonard and they are the 2nd best team in the West. However, this OKC team has nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s going to be an exciting matchup as players try to prove their worth to their former teams.