NBA schedule 2020-21 launch: Video games we won’t 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 adjustments and a condensed free-agency season.

Listed here are crucial 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.

Observe: The NBA’s Second Half, which is scheduled to run from March 11 to Might 16, will probably be introduced at a later date. Our listing of video games to observe doesn’t embody the five Christmas Day games, which have 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 Green for the primary time since leaving the Warriors. The matchup additionally options the NBA debut of No. 2 general decide 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 Middle (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC). — Nick Friedell

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

We by no means received the Battle of L.A. within the postseason, because the Clippers fell woefully brief with their 3-1 collapse to the Nuggets, however the Staples Middle rivalry received hotter within the offseason with Montrezl Harrell switching sides and becoming a member of the defending champs. The Lakers bolstered their title protection by 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 are going to 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 together with his former Oklahoma Metropolis coach Scott Brooks will revive a few of Westbrook’s MVP play. Westbrook will carry the type of aggression and vitality that D.C. will recognize. Ninth general decide Deni Avdija may also 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 yr for Giannis Antetokounmpo. We’ll get our first have a look at Jrue Holiday and see whether or not he can take some stress 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 might 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 will probably be out for just a few months due to a left knee damage — 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, 8 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 also be his Houston Rockets debut. Wall must adapt to enjoying alongside James Harden, however the two had been seen collectively in the identical basketball runs in offseason exercise movies. And Wall could be very accustomed to 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 outdoors capturing. — Youngmisuk

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

The final time these groups matched up, we received a uncommon “double bang” from ESPN’s Mike Breen as Luka Doncic hit a vicious step-back recreation winner in Recreation 4 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 towards 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 Heat
Dec. 29, 7:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m. ET | NBATV

Giannis Antetokounmpo will probably 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 decide up the place they left off and return to the NBA Finals, however to take action, they’re going to should undergo a Bucks workforce 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 similar excessive stage outdoors of the Orlando bubble. — Friedell

Portland Trail 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 will probably be uneven, with the information that Kemba Walker will probably 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 will likely be attention-grabbing to see him sq. off towards Bam Adebayo once more.

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

Utah Jazz at Denver Nuggets
Jan. 17, 8 p.m. ET

The final time these two groups met, Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell supplied historic fireworks contained in the bubble in a seven-game first-round duel. The 2 budding stars every scored 50 twice towards 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 trying to take one other step ahead, with Murray coming off his Western Convention finals run and Mitchell having just 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 does not get significantly better. Each MVPs are answerable for altering the sport in their very own means. Durant, in his first wholesome season as a Web — will get to measure his rehabbed recreation towards 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 crucial star-studded rivalries within the recreation renews this season as Stephen Curry — who missed almost all of last 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 within the postseason, it is he who sits atop the NBA world and Curry who’s main a workforce stuffed with untested items which have to come back collectively and decide up the slack for injured All-Star Klay Thompson, who will miss one other season after tearing his right Achilles tendon last month. — Friedell

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

The traditional Japanese Convention rivalry component all the time provides taste, however current historical past provides gas to the hearth. 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 replaced by Doc Rivers at head coach and a entrance workplace shake-up with new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey arriving soon after.

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

Washington Wizards at Houston Rockets
Jan. 26, 8 p.m. ET | NBATV

Nicely, this recreation abruptly grew to become attention-grabbing. The swap of Russell Westbrook and John Wall is fascinating on numerous ranges by way of match, nevertheless it’s additionally largely about whom they’re going to now be going through. It isn’t a bad-blood type 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 happened. — Younger

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

The tears will probably be flowing on this night time given it is simply in the future after the one-year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s loss of life. Bryant all the time 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 powerful bond with Bryant and can look to have his younger workforce able to play on what figures to be an emotional night time. A month into the season, it will likely be attention-grabbing to see how Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons rise to the problem towards 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 not any query he’ll be getting the total video-tribute remedy 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 yr in the past. They’re deeper than they have been with the additions of Montrezl Harrell, Wes Matthews and Marc Gasol, and so they have the boldness that comes solely after successful a title. In a season chock stuffed with condensed video games and uncertainty, anticipate LeBron & Co. to rise up for this one towards their longtime rival. The Celtics could not have Kemba Walker back for this one, however they nonetheless have Jayson Tatum, who will be looking to put on a show after signing his max extension earlier than the season. Similar goes for Anthony Davis, who signed his own max extension and has turn out to be probably the most dominant huge man within the recreation. The star energy and lingering rigidity 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 favored, however the 5 video games they’d towards the Lakers have 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 adjustments 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 Green brings toughness. — Youngmisuk

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

Starpower, storylines, previous teammates, particular person rivalries — precisely every thing you need in a daily season recreation. Kyrie vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. KD. For the Nets, although, it represents a measurement alternative towards 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, Euro-steps — all of the steps. Certain, there may be a free throw or two, but when it is shut within the ultimate minutes, one will probably be lining up towards the opposite on a swap, and scrumptious iso crunchtime possessions will probably be on faucet. — Younger

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

After enjoying till the tip 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 through the groups’ Finals showdown in October. Each groups will look a bit of 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, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN

This recreation gives one other glimpse into what may have been an intriguing matchup within the 2019 NBA Finals between Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. Durant, who solely performed briefly in Recreation 5 of that sequence 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 so far, it’s going to be a very good recreation between two star-driven groups with a number of scoring and many talent. However it’s going to additionally carry some juicy procedural context: The commerce deadline may come just a few days after it. And with the Nets and Harden apparently in some type of open flirtation, all eyes will probably be on how he, Durant and Kyrie spend the sport interacting. Or possibly one thing nuts occurs and that is the sport Harden performs towards his outdated workforce. That is the NBA in spite of everything. — Younger

Rookie debuts, and a sibling rivalry

Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves
Dec. 23, 8 p.m. ET

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

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

Whereas he does not enter the NBA with the big expectations that Lonzo Ball did in 2017 because the No. 2 general decide, LaMelo Ball will make his anticipated NBA debut towards Cleveland. And maybe it’s a good factor that the No. 3 general decide does not have the stress that Lonzo had as a rookie with the Lakers. LaMelo noticed the extreme microscope that Lonzo performed beneath and can take pleasure in his older brother giving him recommendations on 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 a lot 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 have a good time when Lonzo and LaMelo meet for the primary time this season. Whereas LaMelo is simply beginning out, Lonzo will probably be attempting to steer the Pelicans to a playoff berth with Zion Williamson in his second season. — Youngmisuk

Each workforce’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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