NBA schedule 2020-21 launch – Video games we will not wait to see within the first half of the season

The NBA schedule has been launched for the first half of the 2020-21 season. The common season ideas off on Dec. 22, 72 days after the Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy contained in the NBA’s Orlando bubble. Since then, we have had the NBA draft, a flurry of teaching modifications and a condensed free-agency season.

Listed below are a very powerful video games for the NBA’s First Half, which is able to run from Dec. 22 to March 4, together with star-studded matchups, reunions and rivalry showdowns.

Be aware: The NBA’s Second Half, which is scheduled to run from March 11 to Might 16, shall be introduced at a later date. Our record of video games to observe doesn’t embrace the 5 Christmas Day video games, which had been revealed on Wednesday.

MORE: What we’re most excited to see on Christmas Day

First-week fireworks

Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets
Dec. 22, 7 p.m. ET | TNT

Kevin Durant, absolutely recovered from the ruptured Achilles he suffered within the 2019 Finals, faces former teammates Stephen Curry and Draymond Inexperienced for the primary time since leaving the Warriors. The matchup additionally options the NBA debut of No. 2 general choose James Wiseman for Golden State and the head-coaching debut of Steve Nash for Brooklyn.

The Nets additionally journey to San Francisco on Feb. 13 for Durant’s first recreation contained in the Chase Heart (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC). — Nick Friedell

LA Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
Dec. 22, 10 p.m. ET | TNT

We no means obtained the Battle of L.A. within the postseason, because the Clippers fell woefully quick with their 3-1 collapse to the Nuggets, however the Staples Heart rivalry obtained hotter within the offseason with Montrezl Harrell switching sides and becoming a member of the defending champs. The Lakers bolstered their title protection including the Sixth Man of the 12 months, in addition to Sixth Man runner-up Dennis Schroder.

One other wrinkle added to the Clippers-Lakers matchup is new coach Ty Lue going through his former star in LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George watched James and Anthony Davis win all of it. Now they may attempt to present the defending champs that they’re nonetheless the Lakers’ largest competitors. — Ohm Youngmisuk

Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers
Dec. 23, 7 p.m. ET

After 4 playoff appearances however no Japanese Convention finals journeys collectively, the Bradley Beal-John Wall period is over in D.C. Now, the Wizards usher within the Beal-Westbrook period when Russell Westbrook makes his Wizards debut. Washington hopes that reuniting Westbrook along with his former Oklahoma Metropolis coach Scott Brooks will revive a few of Westbrook’s MVP play. Westbrook will convey the sort of aggression and vitality that D.C. will admire. Ninth general choose Deni Avdija may even make his Washington debut. — Youngmisuk

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT

Milwaukee believes that that is lastly the 12 months for Giannis Antetokounmpo. We’ll get our first take a look at Jrue Vacation and see whether or not he can take some strain off the reigning back-to-back MVP on each ends of the ground. The group gambled its future on buying Vacation within the hopes that the veteran guard could be the lacking piece that Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton want within the playoffs. For the Celtics, that is the primary probability to see simply how a lot they’re going to miss Kemba Walker — who shall be out for a number of months due to a left knee harm — and Gordon Hayward, who agreed to a four-year, $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets final week. — Friedell

Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder at Houston Rockets
Dec. 23, Eight p.m. ET

It has been two years since John Wall final performed in a recreation on Dec. 26, 2018. Now his long-awaited return may even be his Houston Rockets debut. Wall must adapt to taking part in alongside James Harden, however the two had been seen collectively in the identical basketball runs in offseason exercise movies. And Wall could be very aware of fellow Kentucky Wildcats alum DeMarcus Cousins. Earlier than the commerce, Washington GM Tommy Sheppard and coach Scott Brooks raved about Wall’s quickness and improved exterior taking pictures. — Youngmisuk

Dallas Mavericks at LA Clippers
Dec. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET | NBATV

The final time these groups matched up, we obtained a uncommon “double bang” from ESPN’s Mike Breen as Luka Doncic hit a vicious step-back recreation winner in Sport Four of the primary spherical of the playoffs. The Clippers ultimately prevailed, however Doncic firmly cemented himself as one of many recreation’s elites, standing eye-to-eye with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Doncic’s close to completely rounded offensive recreation in opposition to the size and prowess of the Clippers’ wings is what basketball items are all about. — Royce Younger

Should-see video games of the primary half

Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Warmth
Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m. ET | NBATV

Giannis Antetokounmpo shall be on the lookout for revenge after Jimmy Butler and the Warmth knocked the Bucks from the second spherical of the bubble playoffs. The Warmth imagine they will choose up the place they left off and return to the NBA Finals, however to take action, they’re going to need to undergo a Bucks crew that hopes new addition Jrue Vacation would be the postseason difference-maker the group has been lacking. For the Warmth, they attempt to show they will play on the identical excessive stage exterior of the Orlando bubble. — Friedell

Portland Path Blazers at LA Clippers
Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET | NBATV

Followers, no followers; bubble, no bubble — NBA beef is NBA beef. And the Blazers and Clippers have some beef. The dustup final summer season within the bubble with Patrick Beverley and Damian Lillard spilled into ruthless Instagram clapbacks, with Lillard dunking on Paul George. Then, because the Clippers melted down in seven video games to the Nuggets, each Lillard and CJ McCollum let the tweets fly. Now, it is again to letting your recreation do the speaking, one thing Lillard and McCollum are fairly good at, too. — Younger

Boston Celtics at Miami Warmth
Jan. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

The Celtics get a possibility to avenge their Japanese Convention finals loss to the Warmth — however this matchup shall be uneven, with the information that Kemba Walker shall be out for a number of months after a stem cell injection in his left knee. It will likely be as much as Jayson Tatum to shoulder much more of the offensive load in Walker’s absence, and it is going to be attention-grabbing to see him sq. off in opposition to Bam Adebayo once more.

Adebayo stuffed Tatum on the rim to shut out Sport 1 of the Japanese Convention finals, creating one of the memorable defensive performs in current playoff historical past. — Friedell

Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets
Jan. 17, Eight p.m. ET

The final time these two groups met, Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell offered historic fireworks contained in the bubble in a seven-game first-round duel. The 2 budding stars every scored 50 twice in opposition to one another throughout their battle, with Murray and the Nuggets finishing a 3-1 comeback.

Mitchell and Murray will renew their duel this season, every seeking to take one other step ahead, with Murray coming off his Western Convention finals run and Mitchell having simply signed a five-year, $195 million extension. — Youngmisuk

Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets
Jan. 18, 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT

Giannis vs. KD. It would not get a lot better. Each MVPs are answerable for altering the sport in their very own approach. Durant, in his first wholesome season as a Internet — will get to measure his rehabbed recreation in opposition to the Greek huge man who could possibly be on the verge of staying in Milwaukee long run. Storylines are abound on this matchup between two of the sport’s brightest stars. — Friedell

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
Jan. 18, 10 p.m. ET | TNT

One of the star-studded rivalries within the recreation renews this season as Stephen Curry — who missed virtually all of final season due to a damaged left hand — squares off with LeBron James and the Lakers. It is the showcase recreation for 2 of the league’s hottest gamers. It is also going to be a task reversal for Curry.

After years of dominating James — who now sits atop the NBA world — within the postseason, Curry is main a crew filled with untested items which have to come back collectively and choose up the slack for injured All-Star Klay Thompson, who will miss one other season after tearing his proper Achilles tendon final month. — Friedell

Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Jan. 20, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN
Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

The basic Japanese Convention rivalry factor at all times provides taste, however current historical past provides gas to the fireplace. They’ve discovered one another within the postseason the previous couple of seasons, with the Celtics most just lately sweeping the Sixers within the bubble. Philly’s early exit ended up forcing a reset, with Brett Brown being changed Doc Rivers at head coach and a entrance workplace shake-up with new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey arriving quickly after.

It is a tone-setting convention showdown, the type that engineers all types of early reactions and takeaways. In different phrases, the very best sort of regular-season recreation. — Younger

Washington Wizards at Houston Rockets
Jan. 26, Eight p.m. ET | NBATV

Properly, this recreation immediately grew to become attention-grabbing. The swap of Russell Westbrook and John Wall is fascinating on quite a lot of ranges way of match, however it’s additionally largely about whom they’re going to now be going through. It isn’t a bad-blood sort of factor, with James Harden vs. Westbrook or Bradley Beal vs. Wall, however there clearly wasn’t a connection anymore within the duos. Now Rockets followers can get again to some sense of normalcy and dislike Westbrook once more. Oh, and the final time these two groups performed, this occurred. — Younger

Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers
Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

The tears will seemingly be flowing on this evening given it is simply someday after the one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s loss of life. Bryant at all times appeared to benefit from the problem of placing on a present in his hometown of Philadelphia, and now LeBron James and Anthony Davis will certainly attempt to do the identical in his honor. New Sixers coach Doc Rivers additionally shared a robust bond with Bryant and can look to have his younger crew able to play on what figures to be an emotional evening. A month into the season, it is going to be attention-grabbing to see how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons rise to the problem in opposition to LeBron and the champs. — Friedell

Milwaukee Bucks at New Orleans Pelicans
Jan. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

This matchup options Zion Williamson vs. back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, a battle of Marvel characters dressed as basketball gamers. It is also a reunion recreation for Jrue Vacation, who was a beloved determine within the Pelicans’ locker room and New Orleans group throughout his seven seasons with the franchise. There is no query he’ll be getting the total video-tribute therapy earlier than tipoff. — Younger

Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics
Jan. 30, 8:30 p.m. ET | ABC

On paper, the Lakers look even higher than they did a 12 months in the past. They’re deeper than they have been with the additions of Montrezl Harrell, Wes Matthews and Marc Gasol, they usually have the arrogance that comes solely after profitable a title. In a season chock filled with condensed video games and uncertainty, count on LeBron & Co. to stand up for this one in opposition to their longtime rival. The Celtics could not have Kemba Walker again for this one, however they nonetheless have Jayson Tatum, who shall be seeking to placed on a present after signing his max extension earlier than the season. Identical goes for Anthony Davis, who signed his personal max extension and has turn into probably the most dominant huge man within the recreation. The star energy and lingering stress on this rivalry ought to make it attention-grabbing. — Friedell

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers
Feb. 4, 10 p.m. ET | TNT

The Nuggets’ Western Convention finals expertise was shorter than they’d have appreciated, however the 5 video games that they had in opposition to the Lakers had been priceless. LeBron James and Anthony Davis confirmed Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic firsthand what it took to play at a championship stage. Each groups have made modifications going into this rematch, with the Lakers upgrading their title protection with Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder. Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig left Denver, however former Clipper JaMychal Inexperienced brings toughness. — Youngmisuk

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers
Feb. 18, 10 p.m. ET | TNT

Starpower, storylines, previous teammates, particular person rivalries — precisely all the pieces you need in a regular-season recreation. Kyrie vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. KD. For the Nets, although, it represents a measurement alternative in opposition to the defending champs. The Lakers are the usual, with their superduo setting the bar. The Nets hope their star combo can replicate it. — Younger

Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets
Feb. 19, 9:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

The back-and-forth offensive lightshow between Luka and Harden is must-see for hoops lovers. Step-backs, side-steps, eurosteps — all of the steps. Certain, there could be a free throw or two, but when it is shut within the closing minutes, one shall be lining up in opposition to the opposite on a swap, and scrumptious iso crunch-time possessions shall be on faucet. — Younger

Miami Warmth at Los Angeles Lakers
Feb. 20, 8:30 p.m. ET | ABC

After taking part in till the top of the bubble, you marvel how a lot vitality each groups are going to have early within the season. The advantage of this Finals rematch is that Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic are anticipated to be wholesome after coping with numerous accidents throughout the groups’ Finals showdown in October. Each groups will look slightly totally different — the Lakers added Sixth Man stalwarts Harrell and Schroder, together with veterans Marc Gasol and Wes Matthews, whereas the Warmth added Moe Harkless and former Laker Avery Bradley — however one other showdown between LeBron James and Jimmy Butler is why you watch this one. — Friedell

Brooklyn Nets at LA Clippers
Feb. 21, Eight p.m. ET | ESPN

This recreation affords one other glimpse into what might have been an intriguing matchup within the 2019 NBA Finals between Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. Durant, who solely performed briefly in Sport 5 of that collection earlier than tearing his Achilles, returns for his first matchup with Leonard since each switched conferences. Durant and the Nets are hoping to get out to a quick begin behind Kyrie Irving, whereas Leonard and Paul George are banking on altering the narrative surrounding the Clippers’ meltdown in final season’s playoffs. Each Durant and Leonard come into this season — and this recreation — with a lot to show. — Friedell

Brooklyn Nets at Houston Rockets
March 3, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

If James Harden stays on the Rockets thus far, it’s going to be an excellent recreation between two star-driven groups with plenty of scoring and many talent. However it is going to additionally carry some juicy procedural context: The commerce deadline might come a number of days after it. And with the Nets and Harden apparently in some sort of open flirtation, all eyes shall be on how he, Durant and Kyrie spend the sport interacting. Or perhaps one thing nuts occurs and that is the sport Harden performs in opposition to his outdated crew. That is the NBA in spite of everything. — Younger

Rookie debuts, and a sibling rivalry

Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves
Dec. 23, Eight p.m. ET

By No. 1-pick requirements, the hype is gentle round Anthony Edwards‘ debut, however he is nonetheless the highest general choose, and that is nonetheless the sort of factor you need to see — particularly when the Wolves shall be just about an all-new squad anyway. After their commerce buying D’Angelo Russell final season, they obtained just one recreation with him alongside Karl-Anthony Cities. Now they add the highest choose in Edwards, and there is intrigue in what these younger Wolves will seem like out of the gates. — Younger

Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers
Dec. 23, 7 p.m. ET

Whereas he would not enter the NBA with the big expectations that Lonzo Ball did in 2017 because the No. 2 general choose, LaMelo Ball will make his anticipated NBA debut in opposition to Cleveland. And maybe it’s a good factor that the No. Three general choose would not have the strain that Lonzo had as a rookie with the Lakers. LaMelo noticed the extreme microscope that Lonzo performed underneath and can take pleasure in his older brother giving him tips about navigating the NBA for the primary time. LaMelo may have room to develop with the Hornets, who can use all of his flashy highlight-reel performs this season. — Youngmisuk

Charlotte Hornets at New Orleans Pelicans
Jan. 8, 7:30 p.m. ET | ESPN

LaVar Ball has gotten loads fallacious. However LaVar can boast and beam all he needs when the Pelicans and Hornets meet for the primary time as a result of he did get one factor unquestionably proper — he produced two NBA lottery picks. The Ball household will rejoice when Lonzo and LaMelo meet for the primary time this season. Whereas LaMelo is simply beginning out, Lonzo shall be attempting to guide the Pelicans to a playoff berth with Zion Williamson in his second season. — Youngmisuk

Each crew’s schedule

Atlantic: BOS | BKN | NYK | PHI | TOR
Central: CHI | CLE | DET | IND | MIL
Southeast: ATL | CHA | MIA | ORL | WAS
Pacific: GS | LAC | LAL | PHX | SAC
Southwest: DAL | HOU | MEM | NO | SA
Northwest: DEN | MIN | OKC | POR | UTAH

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