Must-watch games, details from NBA release of second-half schedule

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Now we know what happens after the All-Star break.

The NBA released the full schedule for the second half of the season, which is compacted to try and make up for all the coronavirus (and a few weather) postponements — the Spurs have seven back-to-backs — and get each team 72 games by the week of May 10 (the last week of the season). The regular season ends with a full slate of games on May 16.

Here are the must-watch games and other highlights from the NBA’s second-half schedule.

• The season has to end May 16 because the play-in games — for the seven through 10 seeds in each conference — begin May 18 and conclude on May 21. Then it’s on to the first round of the playoffs.

• Just as a reminder, here’s how the play-in games work. The seven seed in each conference will host the eighth seed in a win-and-you’re-in play-in game (the winner of that game is the seven seed in the playoffs). The ninth and 10th seeds in each conference will play each other, with the loser being out and going fishing. The winner of the 9/10 game will face the loser of the 7/8 game in a one-game, win-and-you’re-in contest for the eighth seed. All of those games will be nationally televised, with details to be determined.

• After both teams were sidelined for more than a week due to health and safety protocols, both the Spurs and Grizzlies have 40 games jammed into the 68 days of the second half of the season.

• Second-half play resumes March 10 with games between the four teams hit hardest by COVID-19 postponements: Washington at Memphis, and San Antonio at Dallas (8:30 ET, NBA TV).

• The Utah Jazz, with the best record in the NBA, get a little more national television love in the second half of the season. The Jazz will play the Lakers both April 17 (3:30 p.m. ET) and two-days later, April 19 (10 p.m. ET) with both games on ESPN. That network also will broadcast when Utah hosts Brooklyn on March 24.

• The Lakers and Clippers will face off on Sunday, April 4, at 3:30 ET on ABC. Hopefully, both teams are healthy by then.

• One week after that, the Lakers are back on ABC taking on the Brooklyn Nets — LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant — on April 10, at 8:30 ET.

• In what could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview, Brooklyn will take on Milwaukee May 2 (3:30 ET, on ABC).

• The second NBA Finals rematch between the Lakers and Heat is set for April 8 (broadcast on TNT at 7:30 p.m ET).

Joel Embiid and the East-leading 76ers will be on national television a fair amount in the second half, including three games against the Milwaukee Bucks: March 17 (7 p.m. ET, ESPN); April 22 (7 p.m. ET, TNT); and April 24 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

• On May 10, Stephen Curry and the Warriors get to take a crack at the Jazz defense (10 p.m. ET on NBA TV).