The 2020 NBA playoffs tip off today. Here's how you can watch and what you need to know – CNN
After officially resuming the 2019-20 NBA season on July 30, the regular season has ended and the 2020 NBA playoffs tip off Monday with a full slate of games.
With the season resuming inside of a “bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida and more people working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, the games are spread out more and now start early in the afternoon.
That means you will get basketball all day and night through at least the first week of action, as teams play through the first round. As teams begin to get eliminated, that may change. Until then, enjoy the constant stream of basketball games this week.
1. Milwaukee Bucks vs. 8. Orlando Magic
2. Toronto Raptors vs. 7. New Jersey Nets
3. Boston Celtics vs. 6. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Indiana Pacers vs. 5. Miami Heat
1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. 8. Portland Trail Blazers
2. Los Angeles Clippers vs. 7. Dallas Mavericks
3. Denver Nuggets vs. 6. Utah Jazz
4. Houston Rockets vs. 5. Oklahoma City Thunder
How to watch
All playoff games will rotate among four network channels: ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.
The schedule is set through Monday, August 24. Placeholder matchups are scheduled through August 30 in the event that some series go to seven games, and additional scheduling will be determined as each series progresses.
Monday, August 17
Utah vs. Denver, 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Brooklyn vs. Toronto, 4 p.m. on ESPN
Philadelphia vs. Boston, 6:30 p.m. on ESPN
Dallas vs. L.A. Clippers, 9 p.m. on ESPN
Watch to watch for
Clippers vs. Mavericks
It’s easy to look at this matchup on paper and dismiss it as an easy series for the Clippers considering they are heavy title favorites. The duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will be a nightmare for any team to handle on both sides of the ball.
However, Mavericks forward Luka Doncic has the look of a perennial superstar who will only continue to improve, and he’s a walking nightly triple-double threat every time he steps on the court. With Kristaps Porzingis healthy and playing on an absolute tear, averaging 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in six bubble games, the tandem will be a lot to handle for the Clippers.
The Damian Lillard show
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has been a man on a mission, putting the team on his back and carrying them into the playoffs. He was undoubtedly the MVP of the season’s final stretch of games, averaging nearly 40 points in nine games to get Portland a first-round playoff matchup against the Lakers.
While the LeBron James-led Lakers are favorites over the Trail Blazers, don’t expect Portland to go down without a fight. Lillard alone makes Portland one of the most dangerous teams entering the playoffs.
The revenge series
It almost seems as if these two teams were fated to play one another.
An offseason trade between saw the Rockets and Thunder exchange star guards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Westbrook played 12 seasons for the Thunder, and facing off against his old team always makes for added drama.
The Thunder were written off in the offseason after they traded away Paul George and Westbrook, but Chris Paul has unexpectedly led the Thunder to a playoff berth and they have been far better than expected this season. Expect Paul to be on a revenge mission after he was dumped by the Rockets in the summer.
Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers will not be at full strength with star forward Ben Simmons out for the playoffs. That means that the 76ers will have to lean on Joel Embiid to carry the load.
Boston does not have anyone capable of covering Embiid, and Philadelphia’s size advantage gives them a puncher’s chance against the more loaded Celtics. The Sixers’ Al Horford playing against his old team will only make things more intriguing in this matchup.
The Celtics have the talent to make the NBA Finals with a loaded roster. If Kemba Walker’s knee holds up and he stays healthy, Jayson Tatum continues his ascent to NBA stardom, and Boston is able to contain Embiid, the Celtics should advance to the next round.