The NBA was the most successful league at addressing COVID. So they changed everything that worked the first time. Right… MMH’s starting SF, Cody, highlights one game of interest for all 30 NBA teams in the first half of the season.
The NBA released the first half of the schedule. The second half will be released… some other time. This is presumably so they can make any COVID-related adjustments. The NBA Bubble experiment was the most successful COVID contingency of all the major sports. It was essentially perfect. So after carefully considering all one concern (MONEY), they decided to change everything up. So basketball will be happening on December 22. I’m not counting the preseason. I never did before and the pandemic can’t change everything about who I am.
I highlighted some of the matchups I’m most looking forward to for part one of the season.
Dec. 26th @ Memphis Grizzlies
Two dynamic guards in Ja Morant and Trae Young. The Grizz are already a playoff contender and basically sat tight. The Hawks made big (excessive?) moves signing Rajon Rondo, Kris Dunn, Bogdan Bogdanović, and Danilo Gallinari. This will be a good test to take stock of these young franchises standing.
Jan. 6 @ Miami Heat
The conference finals rematch. I still don’t know how Bam blocked Tatum’s dunk attempt without snapping all of his ligaments. I’m sure Tatum has thought about it more than once too.
Jan. 30 vs Los Angeles Lakers
The true Vader vs. Luke of the NBA. This is also the game that LeBron James COVID test reveals that he is actually an alien. Space Jam 2 is a documentary about how LeBron grew up on the Monstars’ planet and vowed he would get revenge on all the NBA stars that robbed his family of their glory.
Dec. 22 vs Golden State Warriors
The last time we saw Kevin Durant he was hobbling off the floor with the Warriors title hopes trailing behind him. Then he bolted across the country and now he’s back.
March 3 @ Houston Rockets
Biggest game of the season as James Harden returns to play his old team. 😉
Feb. 24 @ Phoenix Suns
These franchises have been East/West parallels to me. Only the Hornets haven’t had the draft success that the Suns have. Picking up Hayward is not the same as picking up Chris Paul. The Hornets get to watch the Suns leave them behind.
Feb. 1 vs New York Knicks
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin, Patrick Ewing, and John Starks all return for one game for a new version of The Last Dance. Except the dance is one of those creepy Trump rally dances. Gross.
Jan. 25 vs Los Angeles Lakers
I just wonder how Cavs fans feel about LeBron leaving and getting another title with the Lakers? On one hand, he’s the chosen son and he did bring them the title. But isn’t a part of you thinking he maybe could have brought you another one? Plus, you kept the secret about his alien heritage after his space ship landed in the Progressive Field. That’s loyalty.
Dec. 27 @ Los Angeles Clippers
Luka didn’t just plant a flag during that playoff series just a few short months ago, he built a statehouse and put the flag on top. Given the way the Clippers flamed out, the Mavericks might feel like they let one slip away.
Jan. 15 @ Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis and Luka will be battling for MVP honors for the next decade. They have distinct and special styles and couldn’t be more physically different. Like seriously. They’re like Rocket and Groot if Rocket were still a respectable 6’ 7”.
Jan. 12 @ Brooklyn Nets
In my future preview immediately after this year’s finals, I called this as the 2021 championship matchup. I was definitely wrong. That was before the draft and free agency, OK? Yes, I know that was my own choice. Did you hear about LeBron though?
Feb. 23 @ Orlando Magic
Golden State Warriors
Feb. 1 vs Portland Trailblazers
Without Klay Thompson, Steph Curry is going to have to channel his inner Damian Lillard who has been channeling his inner 2015 Steph Curry. I foresee this being an awesome shootout. Maybe it should just be a game of HORSE.
Every game? This could be like watching a trainwreck right from the beginning. An unpopulated train. James Harden throwing Coach Silas under the bus by trying to sabotage everything is really frustrating to me. But when you’ve won as many championships as he has, you get to call the shots.
Feb. 17 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Am I crazy to be more interested in Domantas Sabonis than Karl-Anthony Towns? I might be crazy. But I really like his game. I’m also biased because I loved his dad in NBA 2K.
Los Angeles Clippers
Dec. 25 @ Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets punked this team in the playoffs like it was an Ashton Kutcher show in the early 2000s. The Clippers brought in Serge Ibaka, who is an upgrade over Harrell. But do they like each other more? That seemed to be their main problem to me.
Los Angeles Lakers
Jan 13 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
After playing the Thunder, LeBron James is asked about the rollercoaster of a season. He goes on and on about how the attractions on his homeworld were just missing some star power. Every time he makes it to the finals, he gets to take the abilities of one of his teammates and send it back home. The reporters are confused and wonder if there is a theme park in Akron. No one has seen JR Smith since the finals though.
Feb. 8 vs. Toronto Raptors
Ja Morant vs. Aron Baynes. Ja posterized him so thoroughly last season. Does he try to jump clear over him this time?
Feb. 20 @ Los Angeles Lakers
Have to include a finals rematch. During warmups for this game, Jimmy Butler tries to pick up a glowing basketball, but LeBron snatches it away. He’s overheard telling Jimmy, “No! That was just for game 3 to make it interesting!”
Jan. 24 vs Atlanta Hawks
Do you think that Giannis goes for 60-15-7 and then just circles around Bogdan Bogdanovic with his arms out asking him, “are you not entertained?”
Jan. 29 @ New Orleans Pelicans
The entire Pelicans staff wears fleeces to the game. But the Bucks just point to Bledsoe doing nothing and getting paid a ton. Also, Zion vs. Giannis will be fascinating.
I might tune in to see Ricky Rubio watching the Suns celebrate their win on Feb. 28 and feeling like he is tethered to some astral anchor in Minneapolis that no matter how far he runs from, he still gets pulled back to.
New Orleans Pelicans
They only released half the schedule, yet it might be the total sum of games that Zion plays? I’m knocking on all the wood. I hope he is healthy this season. If he is, then I would copy down every game on their list. He is electric to watch. He can jump over all of the Pelicans future draft picks stacked up. (Tangible representations of them, I mean. It’s a metaphor).
New York Knicks
OK, pretend that the Knicks play the Lakers in part one of the season. Now keep reading:
See that would have worked, right? Now if only the Knicks played the Lakers because there is not much else interesting about the Knicks. I do look forward to seeing what Obi Toppin is right off the bat. He could be Rookie of the Year material.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Feb. 12 @ Denver Nuggets
Pokusevski and Bol Bol get tied up under the hoop and it looks like when a slinky gets tangled around itself. Additionally, I think this team has a unique balance of veterans vs. young players. You could play a lineup of Hill, Roberson, Ariza, Horford, Muscala. Or you could go with SGA, Bazley, Dort, Schofield, Leaf. Third option. Even more tangible draft picks!
I wasn’t kidding about not being interested in the least. I am curious where Aaron Gordon gets traded though.
Jan. 20 vs. Boston Celtics
Doc back against the Celtics and he’s inside the division now. This team has been reconstructed and rethought. Can the results on the court finally match up with the potential? Boston is as good a test as any.
Dec. 23 vs. Dallas Mavericks
Was the Bubble an aberration? Was the Chris Paul trade the missing piece? Have Booker and/or Ayton taken a leap? I want to see their first game to see if I can start to get some answers.
Dec. 28 @ Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers took all the momentum the Blazers had built up riding into the postseason and twisted it around like a balloon animal before handing it back to them. Granted Portland wasn’t healthy. LeBron is a Monstar baby!
I have D’Aaron Fox as a keeper in my fantasy league. So I’ll check the box score of most games.
Feb.5 @ Brooklyn Nets
This is a team that—based on talent—the Nets should beat. But if the chemistry isn’t right, these Raptors will make you pay. This feels like a grit vs. finesse battle.
Jan. 17 @ Denver Nuggets
I want to see more games where Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell trade 50 spots. So sign me up for this one. We easily forget how close Conley’s shot was to going in and eliminating the Nuggets.
Jan. 22 @ Milwaukee Bucks
As the Wizards try to claw their way back to basketball relevance, seeing how they stack up against an elite Eastern team will be important. How will Russell Westbrook affect this team? Also, I can join the long line of people who need to apologize to Bradley Beal. I should have had his jump shot in my article.
Still with me? There you have it! The games I am most intrigued by for each team in the first half of the season. I think there are a lot of interesting story lines to play out. Not the least of which is this thing with LeBron. I mean we should have been tipped off by the fact that no human has ever played this well for this long. Still shocking though. I cannot imagine what could come to light in the second half of the season.
As always, have a great day.