2019 NBA Schedule: Games to Watch
The 2019 NBA schedule has just been officially released by the league. As is the case every year, each team will play 82 games, squaring off against every other team in the league. Also the case every year, there are a few matchups that stand out more than others.
You can’t watch all 2,460 games that take place during the course of the season, so we’ve done our best to narrow it down for you. Here are the games to watch in the 2019 NBA schedule.
Toronto Raptors vs. New Orleans Pelicans
When: October 22, 2019
Where: Toronto, Ontario2
Now, at face value, a matchup between two teams that aren’t highly regarded among the league like the Raptors and Pelicans wouldn’t seem all that notable. However, Zion Williamson, the Duke standout that the Pelicans chose first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft is participating.
Given the expectations that fans and even Williamson’s basketball-playing peers have for him, his NBA debut is a must-watch game.
As for the Raptors, this is their first game since losing reigning Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. Much has been said about the Raptors having little chance to defend their championship without him. This first game will be important in seeing how the team looks without Leonard in the lineup.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
When: October 22, 2019
Where: Los Angeles, California
The “Battle of Los Angeles” has never looked so exciting. The Clippers have a star duo in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Lakers have a duo to match in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Throw in the solid supporting casts on either side and you have what many expect to be the Western Conference Finals.
These teams will square off again come Christmas, but this is the most exciting matchup of the 2019 NBA schedule to this point.
Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets
When: October 24, 2019
Where: Houston, Texas
This game marks Russell Westbrook’s highly anticipated Rockets debut after spending the first ten years of his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’ll be lacing up with last year’s MVP runner-up in James Harden, coming off a 36.1 points average campaign.
The reason that this matchup is so exciting is the fact that reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will be on the other side of the court. Antetokounmpo and Harden should give the fans a real show in Houston.
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
When: November 27, 2019
Where: Boston, Massachusetts
With Kyrie Irving returning to a likely bitter Celtics fanbase, this should be a good one to watch. Kyrie and the new-look Nets take on Kemba Walker and the new-look Celtics in Boston. This is a battle between two of the East’s top contenders that should be made all the more emotional with Irving’s return to Boston.
Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors
When: December 11, 2019
Where: Toronto, Ontario
Months after delivering Toronto their first NBA championship and inevitably leaving for Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard returns to the city. This should be an interesting matchup. Assuming Leonard plays (he may not due to load management) the Clippers will likely win this game. With that being said, it’s the NBA, and as Kevin Garnett taught us in 2008, anything is possible.
The main anticipation of this game is seeing what kind of reception to which Leonard will return. He did what nobody else could do in bringing the city — nay, the country — a championship. Then he left. He deserves applause, but it wouldn’t be at all shocking if he’s met with boos. We’ll find out on December 11.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
When: January 9, 2020
Where: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Russell Westbrook spent the first ten seasons of his professional basketball career in Oklahoma City, playing for the Thunder. He’s widely regarded as the franchise’s most-loved all-time player since moving from Seattle and was even called the “most important player” in Thunder history by GM Sam Presti.
On January 9, Westbrook makes his return to OKC for the first time since being traded this summer. In addition, Chris Paul will square off against former teammate James Harden, with whom he’s rumoured to have a poor relationship. This game should be emotionally charged from start to finish.
Los Angeles Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers
When: February 11, 2020
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This game is going to be watched very closely by NBA fans for one very simple reason. This matchup has the potential to be a preview of the 2020 NBA Finals.
The 76ers are loaded with talent, from MVP-caliber center Joel Embiid to 6’10” All-Star point guard, Ben Simmons. Throw in some key supporting players like Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson, and you have a bonafide championship contender.
On the other side of the ball, the Clippers have the two best two-way players in the NBA in Leonard and George, and a defence rounded out by Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell. Oh, and three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams is on the roster as well. This team seems to have only the Lakers standing between them and the NBA Finals.
Although this matchup takes place in February, it very well might be the same two teams we see in June. Keep an eye out for the 76ers and Clippers this year.
Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets
When: April 15, 2020
Where: Brooklyn, New York
Despite the 76ers being my favourite to win the East, last year’s regular season champions are projected to repeat. The Bucks are favoured to sit atop the Eastern Conference in the 2019-2020 season, and the Nets aren’t far behind. If oddsmakers are right, this could be the Eastern Conference Finals matchup in 2020.