NBA schedule 2020: Dates, times, matchups for season restart

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The NBA is back! And the league has fans covered for the NBA schedule for 2020.

After two days of games, the league’s weekend slate has a lot to enjoy. Sunday will feature a Bucks-Rockets showdown in primetime.

RELATED: Listen to the PBT Podcast for how life has gone thus far in the Bubble

Here are a few more notes on the NBA schedule release 2020:

• These “seeding games” count toward the regular-season standings and the stats count toward regular-season statistics.
• The Pelicans got their easy schedule back. New Orleans had the easiest schedule remaining in the NBA before the interruption, and it is the only team whose opponents have a cumulative win/loss of under .500.
• The most difficult schedule (based on opponent winning percentage) belongs to the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
• Each of the three courts used for games will be sanitized between games, meaning it is at least four hours between games on a court (once warmup time is factored in).
• Games will start as early as 12:30 Eastern on weekdays, 1 p.m. Eastern on the weekends.
• Games will start as late as 9 p.m. Eastern, and those will mostly involve West Coast teams.
• Each team has one back-to-back.
• The times and national broadcasts for games on Aug 12 and 13 are not set. They are flexible, allowing the most important games for seeding to be nationally televised.

NBA schedule 2020 for Orlando restart. (All times ET)

Aug. 1

Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 6 p.m. (ESPN)
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 2

Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets, 2 p.m.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns, 6 p.m.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets, 8 p.m. (ABC)
Sacramento Kings vs. Orlando Magic, 9 p.m.

Aug. 3

Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat, 1:30 p.m.
Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 4 p.m.
Indiana Pacers vs. Washington Wizards, 4 p.m.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 4

Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 1:30 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Sacramento Kings, 2:30 p.m.
Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 4 p.m.
Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers, 6 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Houston Rockets vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 5

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz, 2:30 p.m.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards, 4 p.m
Denver Nuggets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 4 p.m.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Toronto Raptors vs. Orlando Magic, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 6

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, 1:30 p.m.
Indiana Pacers vs. Phoenix Suns, 4 p.m.
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 4 p.m. (TNT)
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 7

Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs, 1 p.m.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4 p.m.
Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets, 5 p.m.
Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 8

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 1 p.m. (TNT)
Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets, 3:30 p.m. (TNT)
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers, 6 p.m. (TNT)
Phoenix Suns vs. Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 9

Washington Wizards vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 12:30 p.m.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors, 2 p.m.
San Antonio Spurs vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 3 p.m. (ABC)
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics, 5 p.m.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 6:30 p.m.
Houston Rockets vs. Sacramento Kings, 8 p.m.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 9 p.m.

Aug. 10

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns, 2:30 p.m.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz, 3 p.m.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Aug. 11

Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic, 1 p.m.
Houston Rockets vs. San Antonio Spurs, 2 p.m.
Phoenix Suns vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4:30 p.m.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks, 5 p.m.
Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Washington Wizards, 9 p.m.

Aug. 12

Indiana Pacers vs. Houston Rockets, 4 p.m.
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Aug. 13

Washington Wizards vs. Boston Celtics
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Orlando Magic
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns
San Antonio Spurs vs. Utah Jazz
Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Aug. 14

Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Schedule or West play-in series

• Aug. 15, No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed (2:30 p.m. on ABC)
• Aug. 16, No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed *if necessary*, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Schedule by team for Orlando

Boston Celtics

vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, July 31 (6:30 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, August 2 (3:30 p.m., ABC)
vs. Miami Heat on Tuesday, August 4 (6:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, August 5 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Friday, August 7 (9 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Orlando Magic on Sunday, August 9 (5 p.m.)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, August 11 (6:30 p.m., TNT)
vs. Washington Wizards on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Brooklyn Nets

vs. Orlando Magic on Friday, July 31 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Sunday, August 2 (2 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, August 4 (1:30 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Wednesday, August 5 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Friday, August 7 (5 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Sunday, August 9 (9 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Tuesday, August 11 (1 p.m.)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Dallas Mavericks

vs. Houston Rockets on Friday, July 31 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Sunday, August 2 (9 p.m.)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, August 4 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Thursday, August 6 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, August 8 (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Monday, August 10 (3 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, August 11 (5 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Denver Nuggets

vs. Miami Heat on Saturday, August 1 (1 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m.)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, August 6 (8 p.m.)
vs. Utah Jazz on Saturday, August 8 (3:30 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, August 10 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. LA Clippers on Wednesday, August 12 (9 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Houston Rockets

vs. Dallas Mavericks on Friday, July 31 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, August 2 (8:30 p.m., ABC)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, August 4 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, August 6 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Sunday, August 9 (8 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, August 11 (2 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, August 12 (4 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Indiana Pacers

vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, August 1 (7 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m.)
vs. Orlando Magic on Tuesday, August 4 (6 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m.)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, August 8 (6 p.m., TNT)
vs. Miami Heat on Monday, August 10 (8 p.m.)
vs. Houston Rockets on Wednesday, August 12 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Miami Heat on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

LA Clippers

vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, July 30 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, August 1 (6 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, August 4 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, August 6 (6:30 pm, TNT)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday, August 8 (1 p.m. ET, TNT)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, August 9 (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, August 12 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Los Angeles Lakers

vs. LA Clippers on Thursday, July 30 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Saturday, August 1 (8:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Monday, August 3 (9:00 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, August 5 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Thursday, August 6 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Saturday, August 8 (6 p.m, TNT)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Monday, August 10 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Memphis Grizzlies

vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, August 2 (4 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, August 3 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Utah Jazz on Wednesday, August 5 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, August 7 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Sunday, August 9 (2 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Tuesday, August 11 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Miami Heat

vs. Denver Nuggets on Saturday, August 1 (1 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Monday, August 3 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Tuesday, August 4 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m, TNT)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Saturday, August 8 (7:30 p.m)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Monday, August 10 (8 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, August 12 (8 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Milwaukee Bucks

vs. Boston Celtics on Friday, July 31 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday, August 2 (8:30 p.m, ABC)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, August 4 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Miami Heat on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m, TNT)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, August 8 (8:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Monday, August 10 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Washington Wizards on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

New Orleans Pelicans

vs. Utah Jazz on Thursday, July 30 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. LA Clippers on Saturday, August 1 (6 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, August 3 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Thursday, August 6 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Washington Wizards on Friday, August 7 (8 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, August 9 (3 p.m, ABC)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Orlando Magic on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Oklahoma City Thunder

vs. Utah Jazz on Saturday, August 1 (3:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, August 5 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, August 7 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Washington Wizards on Sunday, August 9 (12:30 p.m.)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Monday, August 10 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Miami Heat on Wednesday, August 12 (8 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Orlando Magic

vs. Brooklyn Nets on Friday, July 31 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Sacramento Kings on Sunday, August 2 (6 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, August 4 (6 p.m.)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, August 5 (8 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, August 7 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Boston Celtics on Sunday, August 9 (5 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, August 11 (1 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Philadelphia 76ers

vs. Indiana Pacers on Saturday, August 1 (7 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Monday, August 3 (8 p.m.)
vs. Washington Wizards on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Friday, August 7 (6:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, August 9 (6:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, August 11 (4:30 p.m.)
vs. Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, August 12 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Houston Rockets on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Phoenix Suns

vs. Washington Wizards on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, August 2 (9 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Tuesday, August 4 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Thursday, August 6 (4 p.m.)
vs. Miami Heat on Saturday, August 8 (7:30 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, August 10 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, August 11 (4:30 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Portland Trail Blazers

vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Boston Celtics on Sunday, August 2 (3:30 p.m, ABC)
vs. Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 4 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Thursday, August 6 (8 p.m.)
vs. LA Clippers on Saturday, August 8 (1 p.m, TNT)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, August 9 (6:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, August 11 (5 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Sacramento Kings

vs. San Antonio Spurs on Friday, July 31 (8 p.m.)
vs. Orlando Magic on Sunday, August 2 (6 p.m.)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, August 4 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, August 6 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Friday, August 7 (5 p.m.)
vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday, August 9 (8 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m., TNT)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

San Antonio Spurs

vs. Sacramento Kings on Friday, July 31 (8 p.m.)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, August 2 (4 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, August 3 (8 p.m.)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m.)
vs. Utah Jazz on Friday, August 7 (1 p.m.)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, August 9 (3 p.m, ABC)
vs. Houston Rockets on Tuesday, August 11 (2 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Utah Jazz on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Toronto Raptors

vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, August 1 (8 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Miami Heat on Monday, August 3 (1:30 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. Orlando Magic on Wednesday, August 5 (8 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Friday, August 7 (9 p.m, TNT)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, August 9 (2 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, August 10 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, August 12 (6:30 p.m, ESPN)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Friday, August 14 (TBD)

Utah Jazz

vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, July 30 (6:30, TNT)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, August 1 (3:30, ESPN)
vs. Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, August 3 (9 p.m., ESPN)
vs. Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, August 5 (2:30 p.m.)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Friday, August 7 (1 p.m.)
vs. Denver Nuggets on Saturday, August 8 (3:30 p.m, TNT)
vs. Dallas Mavericks on Monday, August 10 (3 p.m., NBA TV)
vs. San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Washington Wizards

vs. Phoenix Suns on Friday, July 31 (4 p.m.)
vs. Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, August 2 (2 p.m.)
vs. Indiana Pacers on Monday, August 3 (4 p.m.)
vs. Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, August 5 (4 p.m, NBA TV)
vs. New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, August 7 (8 p.m.)
vs. Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, August 9 (12:30 p.m.)
vs. Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, August 11 (9 p.m.)
vs. Boston Celtics on Thursday, August 13 (TBD)

Damian Lillard throws pass away from basket, off Tobias Harris, into hoop (video)

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Damian Lillard was making everything yesterday.

EVERYTHING.

Lillard, who scored 51 points in the Trail Blazers’ win over the 76ers, even got a bucket on this wild pass off Tobias Harris.

Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good. It’s even better to be both.

LeBron James admits he’s still adjusting to playing without fans

LeBron James
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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LeBron James has played to overflowing gyms and arenas since he was a sophomore in high school. There is always a crowd around him to watch him play. Or a massive crowd of reporters around him after the game. Or throngs of fans when he travels through China on a shoe tour. LeBron has always packed the house.

Until now. There are no crowds, no fans at the NBA’s restart at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. It’s now games in a stripped-down, made-for-television gym. And LeBron admitted to reporters after the latest Lakers’ loss he is still adjusting. Via Mark Medina of the USA Today.

“I am getting more and more used to being out there. It’s a very weird dynamic. I haven’t played in an empty gym in a very, very long time,” James said following the Lakers’ 116-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday. “It’s been a very long time since no one has been watching me play the game. I’m just trying to find that rhythm and lock in…

“I’m getting more and more comfortable playing in an empty gym,” James said. “Just having the backdrop here is a lot different from playing in a high school gym or a college arena where you’re playing in the summer time, whatever the case may be. It’s very dark, extremely dark. You can literally hear a feather hit the ground. I’m just getting more and more comfortable playing with my game here in the bubble.”

LeBron has still been very good in the bubble — 21.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists a game — but he has not been quite the otherworldly, MVP candidate level player he was before the shutdown. His true shooting percentage of 51.9 at the restart is down from 57.7 before the break (and it has been below the league average since the restart). The Laker offense overall has scored less than a point per possession in the bubble and has been the worst offense in Orlando (leading to a 2-4 record so far). It’s not all LeBron, the Lakers as a team have struggled to get their pre-hiatus traction back, the chemistry is not quite right. But we know who leads this team.

LeBron and company also know they need to find that rhythm soon. They will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and face and eight seed — likely Portland or Memphis — that had to battle its way into the postseason. That team, whoever it is, will come in battle-tested and motivated.

The fans will not be there to pick up LeBron and the Lakers.

“I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game,” James said. “Without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction.”

Someday we all hope for that.

In the short term, LeBron and the Lakers need to find their groove in a fanless world.

 

Three Things to Know: Turn out the lights, the party’s over for New Orleans

Pelicans out of playoffs
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images
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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack — especially with games spread out every day in the bubble — so every weekday during the NBA restart we are here to help you break it all down. Here are three things you need to know from yesterday in the NBA.

1) Turn out the lights, the party’s over for New Orleans…

Phoenix, on the other hand, is still trying to crash that party.

Which is not how anyone saw this going (except maybe Monty Williams). Before players flew to Orlando to be part of the NBA’s restart project, it seemed the dream of hoop fans everywhere (not to mention television executives) was LeBron James vs. Zion Williamson in the first round of the playoffs.

That dream is dead. Turn out the lights on the LeBron/Zion party.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings were casualties over the weekend in the West playoff chase — or, more accurately, the race to get into the play-in series to earn the eighth seed and a shot at the Lakers. Both were mathematically eliminated Sunday.

LeBron will still be there in that first round. However, Zion and the Pelicans’ chances of meeting him were essentially done after they lost to the Spurs on Sunday, 122-113. Maybe they were done when Zion had to leave the bubble for family reasons. The Pelicans got good play from J.J. Redick (31 points Sunday), who saw his 13-season playoff streak end, but overall the offense struggled and was inconsistent. New Orleans will play out the string of two more games in the bubble then spend an offseason wondering how to make a talented roster fit together better — and how to keep Zion on the court.

There will be a play-in series in the West, and it’s likely between Portland and Memphis.

Phoenix, however, has become the darling of the bubble having gone 5-0 and they want to crash that party. Whether they get in the door or not will be decided in the next two days. Monday the Suns take on the dangerous Oklahoma City Thunder and Chris Paul, then on Tuesday they face the shorthanded 76ers. For Phoenix, despite the 5-0 start, those are virtually must-win games. As well as they played, they have to make up for an unimpressive first 65 games and they have a lot of work to do.

The playoff party out West is just getting started. Zion Williamson just didn’t get an invite.

2) Joel Embiid‘s ankle injury leaves 76ers with more questions than answers

When Ben Simmons had to leave the bubble for knee surgery, it meant Joel Embiid had even more weight to carry for Philadelphia.

Now he appears to be joining Simmons in watching Sixers games on television — Embiid left Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and did not return.

There are no details as of this writing on Embiid’s condition and his potential return. Philadelphia has two more seeding games left — their next one is Tuesday against the red-hot Suns — before the playoffs start next week.

Should Philly sit Embiid until the playoffs start next week? The condition of Embiid’s ankle plays the biggest role in that answer, but a Sixers team that has not been able to get healthy may put the focus on that rather than trying to pass the Pacers or Heat in the standings.

This is a Philadelphia team that coach Brett Brown said preseason he thought could get the No. 1 seed in the East. Instead — in part due to injuries but maybe in larger part due to a flawed roster construction by GM Elton Brand that focused on size and defense over shooting — they likely enter the postseason as a stumbling sixth seed. A dangerous team on paper that never came together on the court.

How to correct that for next season, and how to get healthy and keep their stars on the court, are looming big questions for Philly.

For now, the question is, “when does Embiid return?

3) How’s that for a bounce-back game: Damian Lillard drops 51

Portland needed a win to keep itself in the driver’s seat to make the play-in series in the West. Damian Lillard needed a bounce-back game after a rough outing against the Clippers the day before.

How about 51 points from Lillard? That should cover it.

“It wasn’t really so much my performance yesterday and I wanted to perform a certain way today,” Lillard told reporters after the game. “It was like, we let one slip that we should have had yesterday, and I’m a big part of why it got away from us. So tonight, I was like ‘That’s not going to happen.'”

It didn’t happen. Portland sits as the nine seed in the West with games against Dallas and Brooklyn left on the schedule. For Lillard and company it’s simple — win those and they are in the play-in series, and from there they have a good shot at making the playoffs. Lose a game and it opens the door for the Spurs or Suns.

Lillard doesn’t sound like a guy who is going to let that happen.

Watch Damian Lillard put up 51 on shorthanded 76ers

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Everything is back to normal for Damian Lillard.

The All-Star point guard scored 51 points after a frustrating finish a night earlier, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 124-121 on Sunday.

On Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Lillard missed a pair of free throws with 18.6 seconds to go and a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left in a 122-117 loss. Clippers players Paul George and Patrick Beverley were seen laughing at Lillard’s misfortune.

Lillard got the last laugh Sunday by scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t really so much my performance yesterday and I wanted to perform a certain way today,” he said. “It was like, we let one slip that we should have had yesterday, and I’m a big part of why it got away from us. So tonight, I was like ‘That’s not going to happen.’”

Portland bounced back and pulled within a half-game of Memphis for eighth place in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers increased their chances of qualifying for the play-in series, which will start Saturday.

The 76ers lost much more than the game. All-Star center Joel Embiid left in the first quarter with what the team called a left ankle injury, and he did not return. He contested a shot, then backed up and stepped awkwardly into the stanchion. He had been averaging 30 points per game since the restart.

76ers coach Brett Brown wouldn’t say whether Embiid would miss time.

“I’m going to learn more physically,” Brown said. “I don’t know enough to comment on it.”

It was more bad injury news for the 76ers. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is out indefinitely with an injured left knee.

Josh Richardson scored a season-high 34 points and Alec Burks added 20 for Philadelphia. The 76ers would have moved into a tie with the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.

Without their stars, the 76ers fell behind by 17 in the second quarter and trailed 67-58 at halftime.

The game tightened up late. Philadelphia’s Al Horford hit a 3-pointer to trim Portland’s lead to 122-121. Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic made two free throws with 10.2 seconds remaining to put his team up three. Richardson missed a 3-pointer for Philadelphia, and the 76ers couldn’t get another shot off after a scramble for the rebound.

“I thought our guys fought,” Brown said. “I really thought the spirit of the group was fantastic. We called upon many different players that I think played with a spirit and a passion that you’re proud of.”