Despite the NBA suspending the 2019-20 NBA Season in March due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the league was able to resume the rest of the season and post-season in July at the NBA Bubble in Orlando, Florida. The 2019-20 NBA Season concluded with the 2020 NBA Finals, where in the best-of-seven playoff series, the Los Angeles Lakers won 4-2 over The Miami Heat.
Despite the 2019-2020 NBA Season concluding in mid-October, the 2020-2021 NBA Season is slated to begin on December 22. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the regular season has been reduced to 72 games.
Each season, there are many NBA Games that highly anticipated by fans across all 30 of the league’s teams. Reasons for this high level of anticipation include historical team rivalries, individual player rivalries, dramatic or controversial events that occurred the last time two teams played each other, and/or players returning to the teams that originally drafted them or made them star players, to name a few. The eventful yet short free agency during the off-season is also another reason for some of these highly anticipated matchups.
Please note that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the league only released the schedule for all of the NBA Games to be played during the first half all NBA Games (Dec. 22, 2020-March 4, 2021). The reason for this was to allow the league to have more flexibility should any severe outbreaks occur and impact any team, similar to the ones that happened in the MLB and the NFL). The schedule of NBA Games to be played during the second half of the regular season (March 11-May 16, 2021) will be revealed at a later date.
Now, with all of that information being said, listed down below are 12 NBA Games That We Can’t Wait To Watch This Season:
1. Opening Night Part 1: Golden State Warriors v. Brooklyn Nets – 12/22/20:
With the 2020-2021 NBA Season scheduled to begin on December 21st, there will be two games (both will be aired on TNT) played on Opening Night: Golden State Warriors vs. Brooklyn Nets at 4 p.m. PST and Los Angeles Clippers vs The Los Angeles Lakers (see below)at 7 p.m. PST.
The Warriors-Nets game will be the first time that Kevin Durant will play against his former team. After winning two NBA titles and two Finals MVP’s in three appearances with the Warriors, Durant left the team after the 2019 NBA Finals (which the team lost to the Toronto Raptors) to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. However, after tearing his Achilles Tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, he sat out the entire 2019-2020 season, including the NBA Restart in Orlando this past July. This game will also be Steve Nash’s debut as the Nets’ head coach.
2. Opening Night Part 2: Los Angeles Clippers v. Los Angeles Lakers – 12/22/20:
The second of the two NBA Games to be played on Opening Night of the new season is the Clippers-Lakers matchup. Given the rivalry (dubbed as the “Battle of LA) and the star players on both teams, this game is a must-watch. The video below features highlights between the matchup between both teams in The NBA Bubble this past summer.
3. Opening Night, Night 2 (Multiple Games) – 12/23/20:
On December 23, the day after the double-header opening night games, all 26 other teams will play their first NBA Games of the season. Below is a screenshot from ESPN of all the matchups and the times (PST) they will be played.
4. Christmas Day Games (Multiple) -12/25/20:
Every year, all NBA Games played on Christmas Day generate tons of hype and ratings. It has been an annual tradition for the league since 1947. Usually, all NBA Games played on Dec. 25 feature the league’s best players and teams.
There will be five NBA Games played on Christmas this year: New Orleans Pelicans v. Miami Heat; Golden State Warriors v. Milwaukee Bucks; Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers; and Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets. The latter game is the one to watch as it will be the first time that the Clippers and the Nuggets played each other since the Western Conference Semifinals, where the Nuggets overcame a 3-1 deficit to win Game 7 (see the highlights below) and advance to the 2020 Western Conference Finals, upsetting the No. 2 seed Clippers.
5. Dallas Mavericks v. Los Angeles Clippers – 12/27/20:
This game will be the first time that both teams played each other since the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, which The Clippers won 4-2. The playoff series last season between The Clippers and The Mavericks featured several fights in each of the games, like this one below between Marcus Morris and Luka Doncic.
6. Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat – 12/28/20 and 12/29/20:
In order to reduce each teams’ travel schedules due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2020-21 NBA Season will feature several ‘series’ models, where two teams will play each other on consecutive nights in one market.
One of the ‘must-watch’ series will be the one played from Dec. 29-30 between the Milwaukee Bucks and The Miami Heat, which will take place in Miami. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning MVP, and the Bucks will be looking for some revenge after Jimmy Butler and Heat upset them 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the NBA Bubble.
7. Portland Trailblazers v. Los Angeles Clippers – 12/30/20:
8. Utah Jazz v. Denver Nuggets – 1/17/21:
This matchup will be the first time that the Jazz and the Nuggets play against each other since the memorable first round playoff series in The NBA Bubble, which the latter prevailed 4-3. Be ready for a scoring duel between Nuggets player Jamal Murray and from Jazz star Donovan Mitchell.
9. Boston Celtics v. Philadelphia 76ers – 1/20/21 and 1/22/21:
The second of the three series featured on this list will be played two of the NBA’s most historic franchises: The Boston Celtics and The Philadelphia 76ers, who share a historic rivalry. Both of these NBA Games will be played in Philadelphia.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves v. Golden State Warriors – 1/25/21 and 1/27/21:
The last series featured in this article will be matchup between the first two overall picks of the 2020 NBA Draft: Anthony Edwards, who was drafted first overall by The Timberwolves; and James Wiseman, who was drafted second overall by The Warriors.
11. Philadelphia 76ers v. Minnesota Timberwolves – 1/29/21:
The last time these two teams played each other (October 30th, 2019) featured the memorable (and infamous) brawl (see the video below) between 76ers Center Joel Embiid and Timberwolves Center Karl-Anthony Towns. Both Embiid and Towns were ejected and suspended for their fight, which escalated on social media after the game.
As a result of the infamous fight, fans were looking forward to watching the next 76ers-Timberwolves game, which was scheduled to be held in late March, but got canceled after the NBA suspended the season on March 11. Therefore, the 76ers-Timberwolves Game in late January 2021 will be the first time both teams play each other since the brawl.
12. Miami Heat v. Los Angeles Lakers – 2/20/21:
This matchup will be the first time that both teams play each other since the 2020 NBA Finals, which the Lakers won 4-2.
Which of the NBA Games listed above are you the most excited to watch this season? Be sure to let us know which NBA Games down below in the comments section!
Featured Image Source: https://www.latimes.com/sports/clippers/gallery/clippers-vs-mavericks-nba-playoffs-game-2
I am currently a senior at The University of Miami. I will graduate in December 2021 with a major in Journalism and minor in Sports Administration.