The NBA is set to resume from the Orlando bubble on July 30th. We are less than a month away. There are just a handful of regular season games left to be played for teams contending for a playoff spot. For many teams, these games will merely finalize their seeding. For others, they will serve as a tune up for the playoffs, as their seeding is all but set. Still, there are a few regular season games worth marking on your calendar.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers – July 30th
The battle of LA, part four, may be taking place in Orlando Florida, but there is no shortage of hype for this match-up. The two top teams kick things off with a tune up for the Western Conference Final in this prime time match-up on opening night. The Clippers have won 2 of 3 from the first place Lakers in part one of this season.
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks – July 31st
The Eastern Conference has its opening prime time match-up between the Celtics and first place Bucks. Barring an unthinkable slide to close the season, the Bucks have locked up the 1st seed in the east. This game will give both teams an idea of where they are ahead of the playoff push. The Celtics will likely be the 3rd overall seed, with the chance of jumping up to number two.
Orlando Magic vs Brooklyn Nets – July 31st
This is a big game for the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Brooklyn leads Orlando by a half game right now as the 7th seed in the east. The winner of this game may determine who plays the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, and who doesn’t. Avoiding the 8th seed is desirable because of the “play-in” format. That’s where the 9th seed could play the 8th seed in a play-in game series if the two teams are within 4 games of each other. Right now the Wizards in 9th place are 6 games back of the Nets and 5 behind the Magic. The Nets and Wizards meet two days later.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Memphis Grizzlies – August 3rd
Speaking of potential play-in scenarios, here is a big one. Zion Williamson and the Pelicans are just 3.5 games behind Ja Morant and the 8th seeded Grizzlies. The two rookie-of-the-year candidates may be on a crash course for a play-in series. Especially if the Pelicans win this game and close the gap. The Trail Blazers also just 3.5 games back from the Grizzlies play Memphis 4 days prior, so the landscape of the final seed will be very apparent before tip off of this game.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Denver Nuggets – August 12th
This is one of the last regular season games, and will be the final tune up for two of the top three teams in the Western Conference. The Clips will enter the return-to-play with a 1.5 game lead over Denver and a game in hand. This game could very well decide which team will be the #2 seed and #3 seed come playoff time. Home court won’t matter in the playoffs because of the neutrality of Orlando, but having to play the 6th or the 7th seed could make all the difference.