The NBA’s schedule for the July 31 reboot has been released! It’s an encouraging sign that things are moving forward and that teams are on board despite all the various uncertainties.
Hopefully, the talks can now shift back to previewing the upcoming games and ensuing postseason battles. We should also see a ton of debate among fans, because as expected, many will feel hard done about their teams’ new set of games.
Let’s fan the flames and name the teams who appear to have benefitted the most and those who look like they got the short end of the stick.
WINNER: New Orleans Pelicans
Expect the conspiracy theory about Zion Williamson and the Pelicans getting aggressively pushed toward a playoff berth to heat up.
Full Pelicans schedule here: pic.twitter.com/yFk6DceWHE— Andrew Lopez (@_Andrew_Lopez) June 26, 2020
The Pels will start with three tough opponents, but will then finish it off with four non-playoff teams (Kings, Wizards, Spurs, Kings), and one playoff team who are at the very bottom (Magic).
LOSER: Memphis Grizzlies
As the current eighth seed in the mighty Western Conference, the Grizzlies have a somewhat comfortable 3.5 game-lead on the Blazers and Pelicans, the two closest chasers.
They will, however, have a very, very, challenging road ahead in trying to hold on to that lead.
It’s the complete opposite of what the Pelicans have as they will close out the short schedule against five playoff teams – and all are really strong contenders. The Thunder are the ‘worst’ in that final five, but they are arguably one of the best defensive teams in the league and also led by Chris Paul, one of the best point guards of his generation.
WINNER: Philadelphia 76ers
The up-and-down Sixers should be very pleased with the hand they were dealt. They played lethargic all season, but are now rewarded with the second-easiest remaining schedule in the league.
Philly is fighting to establish momentum for the postseason, and with such a set of ‘tune-up’ games, which includes five teams below .500, the team could not ask for more. If the Sixers team that played magnificent at home all season consistently shows up, we’ll probably see an 8-0 sweep.
LOSER: Miami Heat
The Heat are arguably the biggest surprise team of the season, and probably the most team-oriented as well thanks to blue-collar defense, balanced offense, and efficient three-point shooting.
Now, they have to prove all of that again as they got handed the hardest remaining schedule.
While no one in that list is exactly a tough match-up, the firepower is scattered so well that it may not allow the Heat to gather enough momentum for the playoffs.
The first four will be a big challenge, and in the last stretch, they’ll face the Pacers twice. We may see Rounds 2 and 3 of the Jimmy Butler-TJ Warren beef.
WINNER: Boston Celtics
The Celtics have a lot going for them. They have a solid scoring point guard in Kemba Walker, one of the best offensive minds in basketball in head coach Brad Stevens, and also one of the fastest-rising young stars in the league in Jayson Tatum – we haven’t even mentioned Jaylen Brown and the team’s depth.
With all that at their disposal, a better seeding is now for them to lose as they have the third-easiest remaining schedule.
Here’s the Celtics full seeding games schedule: pic.twitter.com/Kw3PM0ulZ5— Jay King (@ByJayKing) June 26, 2020
The Celtics are currently third in the East and they may be hoping to grab the second seed away from the Toronto Raptors. In such a scenario, they may not face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks until the Conference Finals.