NBA schedule is out, here are some highlights

2020 NBA Finals Schedule
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The NBA schedule is out for next season.

There are 1230 games over the course of an NBA season, and technically they all count the same. However, some you want to make sure you watch more than others. Here are a few highlights from this season’s schedule.

Opening night, Oct. 25: New York at Cleveland. Carmelo Anthony and crew get to watch LeBron James hoist the first championship banner to go up in Cleveland in 52 years.

Opening night, Oct. 25: San Antonio at Golden State. The other opening night game is Kevin Durant’s first official one in Warriors uniform. These are likely the two top teams in the West next season, and both come in with different looks (Tim Duncan is out, and Pau Gasol is in for the Spurs).

Oct. 27: Boston at Chicago. Al Horford in a Celtics uniform vs. Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform.

Oct. 27: San Antonio at Sacramento. The Spurs will be in town for the Kings’ first regular season home game in their new arena.

Oct. 28: Cleveland at Toronto. A rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Raptors trying to prove last season’s playoff success was no fluke.

Nov. 3: Oklahoma City at Golden State. The first time Durant takes on Russell Westbrook and the rest of his former team.

Nov. 10: Chicago at Miami. Wade returns to South Beach wearing a Bulls uniform. Expect Heat fans to boo him, after they show up in the second quarter.

Dec. 9: Toronto at Boston. These may well be the second and third best teams in the East (Indiana might have something to say about that), and all their meetings should be interesting.

Dec. 25, Christmas Day: This is the NBA’s unofficial second opening night, and they have stacked it with the biggest names and brands. The games in order are:

Boston at New York
Golden State at Cleveland
Chicago at San Antonio
Minnesota at Oklahoma City
L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers

Jan. 13, Boston at Atlanta. It’s almost halfway through the season before Horford makes his return to Atlanta wearing Celtics’ green.

Jan. 16, MLK Day: This is one of the NBA’s other big holidays, and they lined up four quality games:

Atlanta at New York
New Orleans at Indiana
Cleveland at Golden State
Oklahoma City at L.A. Clippers

Jan. 19: Minnesota at L.A. Clippers. The Timberwolves are one of the up-and-coming teams in the West. The Clippers are a team trying one more time to win with a lineup that hasn’t gotten out of the second round. This is an excellent mid-season measuring stick for both.

Feb 11: Golden State at Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant returns to OKC wearing a Warriors uniform and playing the villain.

March 11: Golden State at San Antonio. These still are likely the two top teams in the West, and they face off late in the season.

April 12: The final night of the NBA season, and a few of these matchups could have playoff implications.

Detroit at Orlando
Toronto at Cleveland
Milwaukee at Boston
Dallas at Memphis
Minnesota at Houston
San Antonio at Utah
New Orleans at Portland

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.

Watch Russell Westbrook drain two buzzer-beaters against Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers had to know it was not their night when Russell Westbrook knocked down a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer just before the half.

Westbrook wasn’t done, he had one more buzzer-beater in him at the end of the third.

Westbrook wasn’t the only guy in the building draining half-courters — for the second-straight game a Laker fan knocked down a half-court shot, this time to win $25,000.

It was a good night all around for the Lakers and their fans at home against the shorthanded Trail Blazers. They got 31 points from LeBron James, plus 27 points and 12 boards from Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves added in 22, and the Lakers took control in the third and cruised in for a needed win.

NBA plans for 2023-24 include in-season tournament (if approved)

2022 NBA Finals - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Press Conference
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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The NBA is planning for the inaugural version of its in-season tournament – should it become reality – to begin early next season, according to a memo sent to teams.

If the tournament is approved, 80 regular-season games for each team would be announced in August, with two more games set to be scheduled depending on which eight teams make the tournament’s knockout stage. Those games would be added in-season to the schedule.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has pushed for the past several years for the in-season event to be added. Talks have gone on about it since at least 2016, and in 2019 the league even created a proposal in which teams would play eight divisional games in the group stage, followed by quarterfinals for the top eight clubs and then semifinals and finals at a neutral site in December.

That evidently remains the footprint. Teams, in Wednesday’s memo, were told to plan for tournament quarterfinal games in early December 2023 – again, the caveat being that the event has yet to be approved.

“It’s something that I remain excited about,” Silver said in September. “I think it continues to be an opportunity within the current footprint of our season to create some more meaningful games, games of consequence, during an otherwise long regular season. … I think fans might really ultimately enjoy another competition during the season, some sort of cup competition. Certainly not rising to the level of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, yet something else significant to play for.”

Silver has often compared the notion of an in-season tournament to what is commonly seen in European soccer.

“It’s all about fan interest,” Denver coach Michael Malone said Wednesday night. “I know they do this a lot in soccer around the world, these in-season tournaments. I don’t know how it’s going to work, the details of it. But if it’s good for the game and the league supports it, obviously all 30 teams and all 30 head coaches will be on board as well. ”

The scheduling process for next season starts with teams telling the league what dates their home arena is available. The NBA wants that list by Dec. 9; the process continues for the next several months.

Wednesday’s memo included clarity on several key dates for the 2023-24 season. Training camps will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 3 for most teams, except those participating in overseas preseason games; they can open camp on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The season begins Oct. 24 and ends April 14, 2024. The play-in tournament will be April 16-19, 2024, and that means that season’s playoffs would begin on April 20.