SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina discusses the difficult decision facing players to resume the season and how teams have reacted to the few who have already opted out.
The NBA’s restart tips off just right, featuring Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans against the Utah Jazz in the first game and the Los Angeles Clippers against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second game on July 30.
Williamson and the Pelicans are on the outside of the playoffs looking in right now but have a chance to get into the postseason. Lakers vs. Clippers is a potential Western Conference finals matchup.
The 88 games to finish the season will determine seeds and who makes the playoffs. Don’t forget, the NBA added the potential for play-in games to determine the eighth seed. So a team that finishes in ninth place and is within four games of the eighth seed will force a play-in game scenario. But the ninth seed has to win twice, and the eighth seed just once to make the playoffs.
FULL SCHEDULE: All 88 seeding games to finish regular season in Orlando
MOVING FORWARD: Silver, Paul call on NBA to improve diversity in hiring
Here are 13 must-see games when the NBA resumes:
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers, July 30: A potential conference finals matchup
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics, July 31: Can the Celtics challenge the Bucks in the East?
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers, July 31: A big early game in the race for the West’s eighth seed.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz, Aug. 1: This one has big seeding implications in the West.
Indiana Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Aug. 1: Another game that has an impact on seeding between East contenders.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Memphis Grizzlies, Aug. 3: Memphis has a tough schedule to finish.
USA TODAY Sports’ Mark Medina breaks down the details of the NBA bubble in Orlando.
Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, Aug. 4: Will the Heat make a run in the East?
Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Aug. 6: Can the Rockets make a deep run?
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz, Aug. 8: This one could determine the third seed in the West.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks, Aug. 10: Looking at a potential Eastern Conference finals rematch?
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Sacramento Kings, Aug. 11: Don’t forget the Kings in the race for the eighth seed.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors, Aug. 12: The Sixers are an intriguing team headed into this restart.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets, Aug. 12: Can the Nuggets make a run at the No. 2 seed?
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
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