The Five Best Games to Watch Before the NBA Playoffs


March 11, 2020. Following the conclusion of that day's games, the NBA decided it was going to suspend game play until further notice. That notice has arrived and we now know the schedules of the 22 teams that will be playing in Orlando.

With tipoff set for July 30th, here are the five games that look to be the most exciting starting with No. 5:

5- PHILADELPHIA vs. TORONTO: No team has been more Jeckyll and Hyde than the Philadelphia 76ers. They have the league's best home record at 29-2 but also sport a 10-24 road record. They were on pace to set the record for biggest difference between home and road record for an 82-game season (.641). On the other side, the Toronto Raptors have been equally good on the road as at home with a 23-9 record for both. Toronto edged out Philly in seven games on Kawhi Leonard's dramatic game-winning shot in the Eastern Conference semi-finals en route to them winning the championship. Leonard is gone but the Raptors don't seem to miss him all that much as they are the No. 2 seed in the East.

4- MEMPHIS vs. NEW ORLEANS: This will be the second matchup between the two teams that will involve the first two picks in last year's draft: Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Morant's Grizzlies also hold a 3.5 game lead over Zion's Pelicans (as well as the Blazers and Kings). The first time these two young phenoms saw each other, it was Zion who got the last laugh as he scored 24 points in 29 minutes in a 139-111 win over Memphis. Ja had 16 points. While Zion will be on the cover of the Next Gen edition of NBA 2K21, Morant is expected to win NBA Rookie of the Year. This matchup features two of the young phenoms the NBA has to offer and with the Pelicans on the outside looking in and the Grizzlies looking to hold on to their slim lead, you can expect a fun one here.

3- UTAH vs. OKLAHOMA CITY: If memory serves me right, this was the first game to be suspended after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. OKC has surprised everyone this season currently sit in a tie with Houston for the 5th seed and only a game behind the Jazz for the fourth seed. Chris Paul has this Thunder team playing extremely well as they are the hottest team in the west (or were before the postponed season) and have a great chance to improve their playoff positioning. Utah will be without Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist surgery) and a lot of attention will be on the relationship of Gobert and all-star Donovan Mitchell.

2- BOSTON vs. TORONTO- Two of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference, Boston will attempt to overtake Toronto for the No. 2 seed. The Celtics were 2-1 against the Raptors during the pre-coronavirus season. The Celtics have played much better basketball this season with Kemba Walker leading the way instead of Kyrie Irving while Toronto has not missed a beat after winning the NBA Championship last season and losing Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers. While we are unsure of how the absence of a crowd will play in terms of a "home-court advantage" the difference in opponent between the two and three seed is: the two seed gets either a Nets team missing a lot of key players (DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving) or a Magic team who has yet to defeat the Celtics or Raptors while the three-seed will get the 76ers who had could potentially benefit, or play like they do on the road, without a crowd.

1- LAKERS vs. CLIPPERS: The King vs. The Claw. LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard. These are the two best teams in the Western Conference and the rest may have benefitted both with LeBron's age and Kawhi getting a lot of load management days during the regular season to try and prevent injury, both should be full of energy when these two meet. While not impossible, the Lakers hold a 5.5 game lead of the Clippers for the No. 1 seed in the west making it extremely difficult for the Clippers to catch up with just eight games to be played in the restart. These two teams have treated their superstars very differently with LeBron playing in 60 of the 63 games at 35 minutes per game while Kawhi has played only 51 of a possible 64 games while playing 32 minutes per game. This more than likely will be a preview of the Western Conference Finals so why not enjoy a little teaser to wet our appetite. The Clippers were 2-1 against the Lakers.


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