The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers gave followers a motive to tune in on opening evening of the NBA restart for the reseeding video games, with the Lakers edging the Clippers in a detailed one. They’re going to each be again in motion Saturday with two video games that provide their very own intrigue.
The Clippers play first, taking up the New Orleans Pelicans (6 p.m. ET, ESPN) and their dynamic rookie, Zion Williamson. (Can we nonetheless name a man a rookie greater than a yr after he has been drafted?)
Anyway, each the Clippers and the Pelicans performed, and misplaced, Thursday, which ought to give the matchup an additional edge. No person desires to go 0-2 to start out an eight-game seeding situation, though a loss would definitely appear extra consequential for New Orleans.
The Pelicans’ 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz dropped them to 28-37, and so they enter Saturday 3½ video games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. Eight spot within the West — and a recreation behind the Portland Path Blazers for the No. 9 spot, which is the place they must be in the event that they wish to power a play-in recreation ought to they not nab the eighth seed outright.
Williamson, whose enjoying time was restricted after he needed to go away the campus to take care of a household emergency and had his coaching camp mainly lower in half, nonetheless may not be able to make a full impression. He scored 13 factors towards Utah on 6-for-Eight taking pictures, however New Orleans was outscored by 16 within the 15 minutes he was on the ground, and Williamson did not seize a single rebound.
A Clippers loss to the Pelicans would not be as alarming — in truth, some championship coaches like Doc Rivers invite somewhat adversity to get their staff’s consideration. However it will lower into their lead over the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz for the No. 2 spot within the West. And whereas home-court benefit is likely to be moot at a impartial web site, staying because the second or third seed signifies that the Clippers would keep away from the Lakers within the postseason till the convention finals, theoretically giving them extra time to get their rhythm and jell once more after the hiatus earlier than taking up that problem.
Later Saturday, the Lakers play the defending champion Toronto Raptors (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Toronto’s first recreation of the restart. The earlier time they met, again in November, Toronto gained 113-104 at Staples Heart. Raptors function gamers Chris Boucher, Terence Davis and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson mixed for 38 factors off the bench. The Lakers already earned their first 50-win season since 2011 by beating the Clippers, and a victory over Toronto would enable the Lakers to clinch the No. 1 seed within the West. (They will additionally again their method into No. 1 with the following Clippers or Nuggets loss.)
Which, in all honesty, might run counterproductive to the work Lakers coach Frank Vogel insists nonetheless must be completed.
“We’re removed from a completed product,” Vogel mentioned Friday. “It appears like we now have an extended strategy to go to achieve the habits and self-discipline we have been enjoying with after we entered the hiatus.” –Dave McMenamin
PAST BUBBLE INTEL: July 30 | July 31
The most recent buzz
Nuggets down three starters Saturday
The Denver Nuggets will enter their first seeding recreation short-handed, as starters Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton have all been declared out towards the Miami Warmth (1 p.m. ET on ESPN). Murray, who performed 25 minutes within the Nuggets’ remaining scrimmage on Monday, has been coping with left hamstring tightness. Harris, who was a late arrival to the bubble, has a sore hip, and Barton has been nursing proper knee soreness. Harris did not play in Monday’s scrimmage, whereas Barton was restricted to 18 minutes.
Saturday’s must-see video games
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder | 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
The sport that began, and, actually, stopped all of it. After a four-month delay, the Thunder and Jazz lastly play. After we left off, this recreation was about to be for the present 4-seed within the Western Convention. And it maintains these giant implications as each groups are firmly within the combine for a top-four seed. It is an essential recreation — for lots of causes. — Royce Younger
New Orleans Pelicans vs. LA Clippers | 6 p.m. ET on ESPN
Each groups are 0-1 within the bubble, and in each instances misplaced tight, toss-up video games. The Pelicans regarded wonderful, even with Williamson’s minutes restriction — for about 3½ quarters. The Clippers fared equally, besides they only could not discover sufficient offense down the stretch. The Pelicans are extra determined than the Clippers right here to get their first restart victory, although, as a result of there aren’t many possibilities obtainable. — Younger
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors | 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
After beating the Clippers on opening evening, the Lakers get the defending champs in one other high-level matchup. There’s loads of discuss how the already-great chemistry of the Raptors has solely strengthened within the bubble, and whereas they’re an Jap Convention risk, they’re nonetheless seen as considerably of a darkish horse. There’s a possibility to make a powerful assertion right here towards the presumed title favourite. — Younger
Further video games
Full scoreboard for Aug. 1
The one bubble staff enjoying on Saturday is New Orleans (vs. Clippers). And it is usually the final time the Pelicans play a staff with a profitable file. So whereas the schedule will get “simpler” on paper for New Orleans, the Pelicans will face groups enjoying for his or her playoff lives for the remainder of the month after Saturday, similar to they are going to be.
7. Orlando Magic | 31-35 (.470) | —
8. Brooklyn Nets | 30-35 (.462) | 0.5 GB
9. Washington Wizards | 24-41 (.369) | 6.5 GB
8. Memphis Grizzlies | 32-34 (.485) | —
9. Portland Path Blazers | 30-37 (.448) | 2.5 GB
10. San Antonio Spurs | 28-36 (.438) | 3.Zero GB
11. New Orleans Pelicans | 28-37 (.431) | 3.5 GB
12. Sacramento Kings | 28-37 (.431) | 3.5 GB
13. Phoenix Suns | 27-39 (.409) | 5 GB
Full standings | Playoff matchups
Sunday’s must-see video games
Portland Path Blazers vs. Boston Celtics | 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC
The Path Blazers obtained off to precisely the type of begin they wanted, taking down the Grizzlies within the opener to shut the hole as a result of issues begin to get harder from right here. The Celtics performed the Bucks to the wire, getting a terrific recreation from Marcus Good and looking out each bit ready, conditioned and prepared. The Path Blazers are positively a greater staff at present than they have been in March. They are going to want to point out it towards Boston. — Younger
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets | 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC
There is a respectable probability the Bucks may drop 190 factors on Houston. However then once more, the Rockets may return the favor, as a result of the microball remains to be cooking. James Harden did not present any indicators of rust, and for essentially the most half, Houston simply continued on with what it was doing in March. If something, the restart may need given the Rockets extra of an opportunity to work out some points, and a showdown towards the Bucks is a superb probability to attempt it out in a rematch of each groups’ season opener.— Younger
Further video games
Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets | 2 p.m. ET
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies | Four p.m. ET
Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic | 6 p.m. ET
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns | 9 p.m. ET
Full scoreboard for Aug. 2
Evaluation and intel
Why these video games matter for seven underrated NBA title contenders
Which groups are gearing as much as crash the NBA Finals? Our specialists break down the highest decisions.
This is a team-by-team listing, together with the explanations for a few of their decisions