Launch of the NBA calendar: Lakers vs. Clippers, Zion Williamson vs. Ja Morant among the top 10 matchups in Orlando

The NBA announced its game schedule on Friday night for its next restart in Orlando on July 30, and there are a series of engaging engagements throughout the 16-day “seed games.” There will be a maximum of seven games per day, taking place on three different courts on the Disney World grounds. Schedules were created using the remaining games left in each of the 22 teams’ schedules, with each team playing a total of eight each.

From the first night of July 30 to the playoff races for the final places in each conference, there is no shortage of exciting games ahead. After examining all the games on the remaining schedule of the NBA regular season, here are 10 of the best matchups to see when the league returns, starting with the first day back.

Jazz vs. Pelicans: July 30, 6:30 p.m. ET

When the NBA closed in March, it was because Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. It unleashed a wave of cancellations across the country and created a well-documented rift between Gobert and his teammates, specifically with Donovan Mitchell. There have been concerns about how the two stars will be able to repair their relationship, and what that means for Utah’s future. His first test will come on the opening night of the NBA comeback. However, in addition to Gobert and Mitchell solving their problems, Utah will be left without its top scorer at Bojan Bogdanovic, who underwent wrist surgery that ended the season during the break.

On the other side of this showdown is rookie Pelicans phenomenon Zion Williamson, who was in an absolute tear before the season was postponed. Williamson will completely heal from knee surgery that kept him out of the first half of the season, and he has also kept fit. The Pelicans are chasing seed number 8 in the West, and they will need every win to make the playoffs from this game against Utah.

Lakers vs. Clippers: July 30, 9 p.m. ET

Potentially, this could be a preview for a final Western Conference clash between the two Los Angeles teams. LeBron James, who, at 35, was having an MVP-caliber season before COVID-19 forced the world to stop, will now be incredibly well rested for a playoff career. While Kawhi Leonard, also known as the king of cargo management, must also rejuvenate himself from spare time. There will surely be a lot of rust for all players, and playing in a neutral location with no fans present will require some tweaking. However, after waiting what felt like an eternity for the NBA to return, this matchup appears to be the perfect opening number for the league.

Grizzlies vs. Trail Blazers: July 31, 4 pm ET

The race for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs will start with the No. 8 seed Grizzlies vs. the ninth seed Trail Blazers on the second night of return. While Memphis is 3 1/2 games ahead of Portland in the standings, the Blazers will bring some reinforcements with them to Orlando that they have missed all season. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic are expected to be healthy and available to play for Portland, giving this team the depth they need on the front court. Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant will also get help with Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke hopes he is completely healthy. Also, the Grizzlies could see Justise Winslow’s debut in Orlando.

Celtics vs. Bucks: July 31, 6:30 pm ET

What will reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo be like on his return to hardwood? You won’t have to do everything you can right away: You’ll fully recover from a knee injury that kept you out of the past two games before the break, and you don’t face the threat of losing first place in the East to the Raptors. about 6 1/2 games separate the two. The Celtics will have more to prove during these seed games, as the Heat looms behind them with just 2 1/2 games between them. Jayson Tatum looked like a bona fide superstar before the postponement, and getting Kemba Walker back to health after missing games in February will only benefit Boston’s dynamic offense.

Rockets vs. Mavericks: July 31, 9 p.m. ET

Before the break, Russell Westbrook was starting to hit the Rockets, James Harden was not required to. everything For once, newly acquired 3-D specialist Robert Covington was pairing well with this team. As the restart begins, the Rockets are a bit of a wild card because they could be a serious contender or fall into old defensive patterns that could be costly. The Mavericks currently sit 1 1/2 games behind the Rockets in the Western Conference standings, and are looking to gain some ground for their Texas enemies. Dallas will miss some key pieces at Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson due to injuries, but with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis expected to be completely healthy, this team could make an unexpected noise at Disney World.

Nuggets vs Heat: August 1, 1pm ET

This will be the first game that will see the new reduced version of Nikola Jokic, and it will be interesting to see how weight loss affects your game. Some are concerned that he might hinder his play in the post, but he’s never been a low-hitter type of player. If anything, this will only help their stamina, especially at the end of games when the Nuggets need it the most. He also just tested positive for COVID-19, but is expected to be ready once the season resumes. The Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, has become a dangerous team in the East, and with the aim of Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, in addition to the appearance of Bam Adebayo in the All-Star Game, they have the potential to make life difficult. of the teams. in the playoffs

Grizzlies vs Pelicans: August 1, 6:30 p.m. ET

Ja Morant vs. Zion Williamson, and a chase for the final spot in the Western playoffs make this matchup a must-watch TV. The last time these two teams met, Zion and the Pelicans had the best of the Grizzlies, with Duke leading the game in scoring (24 points). However, Morant, who only had 16 points, did not have Jackson and Clarke in that game. This time, they will both be in the lineup to help. Williamson and Morant have already put together electrifying rookie resumes, with the stakes even higher in this matchup, get ready for these first-year standouts to put on a show.

Lakers vs. Rockets: August 6, 9 p.m. ET

After the Rockets traded Clint Capela, and fulfilling Mike D’Antoni’s dream of playing a small ball without a floor cross that cannot shoot, they immediately had to face the long Lakers. Surprisingly, Houston outlived the formidable Los Angeles team in February, but the question is, can the Rockets do it again? More importantly, could they do it during a seven-game playoff series against the Lakers? That second question won’t be answered until the postseason if these two teams face off against each other, but this matchup will help us understand if the Rockets could be a threat to the Lakers’ title hopes.

Raptors vs. Bucks: August 10, 6:30 p.m. ET

There are no seed implications here, as the Bucks are clear ahead of the Raptors in qualifying. However, this could be a preview for the Eastern Conference finals. When these two teams met in the conference final last season, Kawhi Leonard became the deciding factor in the series. Without him, the Bucks have an advantage over Giannis, although Toronto is by no means an easy opponent. Despite all the injuries the Raptors have suffered this season, they have continued to advance near the top of the Eastern leaderboard. The Bucks have something to prove this season, but the Raptors are trying to remind everyone that they are still champions, and that they have not gone anywhere yet.

Raptors vs. 76ers: August 12, 6:30 p.m. ET

Speaking of the Raptors’ championship run last season, the Sixers would surely like to erase that devastating Game 7 semifinal loss from their memory forever. Especially Joel Embiid, who has been surprisingly quiet during this hiatus. Philly will go as far as Embiid will take them, and a lot of that depends on what kind of shape he has when games resume. This will be the Sixers’ last game of the regular season, and hopefully by then their star center is in good shape to potentially run in the playoffs. The Sixers have a lot to prove when entering Orlando, because this team can be one of the best teams in the East, led by Embiid and a healthy Ben Simmons, or an absolute disaster on both ends of the floor. It just boils down to which team appears in Disney World.