It’s exactly 72 days since the Los Angeles Lakers returned to glory by winning the 2019-20 NBA Championship. Today the new season finally kicks off after rounds of preseason games concluded on Saturday, 19th December.
The quest to find the 75th champions of the most elite basketball competition in the world starts this Tuesday, 22nd December with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York hosting the opening game between Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets.
A game that will attract lots of interest and excitement for a number of reasons. Aside being a game that will see Kevin Durant return to the NBA following his absence the whole of last season due to an Achilles rupture in the 2019 Finals.
It would also mean that his first game back will have him sharing the same court with his former teammates again, although this time, wearing a different jersey, playing along side the 2011 no. 1 overall Draft pick, Kyrie Irving.
The Golden State Warriors, however, led by Steph Curry and Draymond Green will also be watched to see how they begin their 2020-21 campaign after a poor showing in the last, for a team many considered an NBA dynasty couple of years ago.
Next on opening night will be a classic city rivalry game between the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers at the Staples Center.
The defending champions will welcome their city rivals with pretty much almost an entirely different supporting players (Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, Wesley Mattews and Montrezl Harrell) for their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
A change most defending champions seldom make. It will be interesting to see if that could affect Frank Vogel’s team chemistry. Or perhaps LeBron’s ability to bring the best of his teammates will once again be at play this season.
The Clippers, on the hand, will be expecting more from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, as well as their new signing, Serge Ibaka (Montrezl Harrell’s replacement) after a letdown 2019-20 season. Ty Lue will be expected to make the franchise title contenders this year after taking over from his boss, Doc Rivers.
Other matchups for game week 1 are;
- Hornets v Cavaliers. Knicks v Pacers. Heat v Magic. Wizards v 76ers.
- Bucks v Celtics. Pelicans v Raptors. Hawks v Bulls. Thunder v Rockets.
- Spurs v Grizzlies. Pistons v Timberwolves. Kings v Nuggets. Jazz v Blazers.
- Mavericks v Suns.
The 2020-21 season will be a 72-game championship, 10 games less of a typical 82-game long NBA season. Another one of the changes that the 2020-21 season will have is a Playoff Play-In Tournament which was approved in November by the NBA Board of Governors, to take play after the end of the regular season and before the start of the playoffs. This is meant to offer teams with 7th to 10th highest winning percentages in each conference, opportunities to get seeded into the playoffs.
All-Star Games enthusiasts will have to wait till later in the season to know whether, when and where the fan-focused activities will be held. This is because the event originally scheduled to take place from Feb.12th-14th, 2021 in Indiana can no longer take place in that city this year due to public health concerns. It is also, as at now, unclear when fans will be allowed into various arenas this season.
In any case, whatever your expectations are for your favorite team going into the 2020-21 season, here are some keys dates to mark on your calendars:
May 13th-15th, 2021: 2020 Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Enshrinement
May 18th- 21th, 2021: Play-In Tournament
May 22- July 22, 2021: Playoffs
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