The 2019-2020 NBA season ended just 10 weeks ago in the aptly named bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, with the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals.
It was a season interrupted and delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The start of this season, which began on Tuesday with the Golden State Warriors facing the Nets in Brooklyn, and the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers meeting at the Staples Center, both teams’ home arena, will have a similar hold-your-breath feel as the country experiences an alarming surge of positive COVID cases and deaths.
The regular season schedule has been reduced to 72 games, 10 less than the traditional 82-game slate. There will be no bubbles at the outset as teams will play in their normal venues. The number of fans and media attending games in-person will be limited. National broadcast by the league television partners, TNT, ESPN, ABC and their own Network, NBA TV, will offer fans a bevy of games to consume.
Christmas Day will provide fans a full day of viewing, five games in all, starting with the New Orleans Pelicans facing the Heat in Miami at noon (ESPN). It will be followed by the Warriors taking on the Milwaukee Bucks on the road at 2:30 p.m. (ABC). The Nets at the Boston Celtics (5:00 p.m., ABC) will be the third game of the afternoon and the Dallas Mavericks at Lakers (8:00 p.m., on ESPN and ABC) will be Game No. 4. The Clippers at the Denver Nuggets (10:30 p.m. ESPN) will close out the Christmas schedule.
With the return of 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who missed all of last season recovering from a torn Achilles, paired with Kyrie Irving, the Nets are now one of the league’s showcase teams. Durant, who looked healthy and fit in scoring 25 points in the Nets’ final preseason game last Friday, a 113-89 win over the Celtics, said there is no specific time for him to be in peak form.
“I mean, I’ve always been comfortable with a basketball in my hands,” Durant said ahead of his Nets’ regular season debut against his former team.
“But physically not being able to run up and down the court, it’s going to take me more than two or three games to feel like I’m in midseason form, I guess, physically.”