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Warriors-Nets, Clippers-Lakers to tip off NBA opening night on Dec. 22

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The NBA announced its national TV schedule for the first three days of the season — Dec. 22, 23 and 25 — Wednesday, featuring nine games involving most of the league’s biggest names.

Opening night will see the Warriors open the season by traveling to Brooklyn to face the Nets, in what will be Durant’s first game since suffering a torn Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals and the first game he will play against his former team since joining the Nets as a free agent that summer. Golden State, meanwhile, will not have Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with his own torn Achilles, but will have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green back in the lineup, as well as the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, center James Wiseman.

The second game of the doubleheader will see the defending champion Lakers receive their rings, as is customary, before facing off with their cross-the-hall rivals, the Clippers, at Staples Center. What already was a juicy rivalry will only be more so after center Montrezl Harrell went from the Clippers to the Lakers this offseason.

Both of those games will be on TNT.

Dec. 23 will then feature a pair of games. The Milwaukee Bucks, led by two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and newly acquired star guard Jrue Holiday, head to Boston to face Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics. That will be followed by future Hall of Famer Chris Paul making his debut with the Phoenix Suns against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks — a game that will be on ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Christmas Day schedule — all of which will be on ABC or ESPN — features a full day’s worth of games. The action will begin at noon where the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat, will face Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on ESPN. That will be followed by a pair of games on ABC: the Warriors traveling to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, and the Nets going to Boston to play the Celtics in what could be Kyrie Irving‘s first game back in Boston since leaving as a free agent last summer.

The two games at night will feature Doncic and the Mavericks facing LeBron James and the Lakers in a game that will be simulcast on ABC and ESPN, followed by a rematch of the dramatic Western Conference semifinal series between the Clippers and Denver Nuggets in Denver on ESPN.

The NBA said it will announce the remainder of its schedule for the first half of the season Friday. The league, in an attempt to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to allow for more flexibility for the possibility of needing to reschedule games later on due to the virus, is doing its 72-game regular season schedule in halves this season. The second-half schedule won’t be announced until shortly before the first half of the season comes to a close.

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New Orleans Pelicans will be without Lonzo Ball and potentially Eric Bledsoe against LA Clippers

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The New Orleans Pelicans could be without their two starting guards for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.

On Tuesday night’s injury report, the Pelicans listed Lonzo Ball as out with bilateral knee tendinopathy and Eric Bledsoe as questionable with right eye irritation. A source said the team is treating Ball’s injury as day-to-day.

Ball and Bledsoe have started every game this season and have shared point guard and shooting guard duties.

According to data collected by Second Spectrum, Ball has brought the ball up the floor 290 times this year, while Bledsoe has done so 188 times. But Ball told reporters on Sunday that his role in the half-court offense is more like a shooting guard and he needs to be ready to shoot open 3-pointers when they become available instead of looking to pass first.

While Brandon Ingram has also picked up some of the playmaking duties in the half court, Ball’s assist numbers have dropped from last season (7.0 to 4.4 assists per game). His scoring, though, is up slightly (11.8 to 12.4 points per game).

Ball has struggled with his shooting to start the season as well, hitting at a 39.4% rate overall, and 30.8% from 3-point range. Last season, Ball shot a career-best 37.5% from deep.

In his first nine games with New Orleans after an offseason trade, Bledsoe is averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds — his lowest outputs since the 2012-13 season. That was his third in the league, and the year before he emerged as a starter with the Phoenix Suns.

New Orleans also listed guard JJ Redick on the injury report with right hamstring tightness. He is probable for the game.

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Utah Jazz-Washington Wizards game on Wednesday is postponed

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The Washington Wizards will not have the league-required eight available players for Wednesday’s home game against the Utah Jazz, causing it to be postponed, it was announced Tuesday.

The Wizards are dealing with multiple players in COVID-19 contact tracing, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This is the sixth game this season to be postponed due to health and safety protocols.

The Wizards canceled practice Tuesday prior to the league’s decision to postpone the game. The team then later listed forward Rui Hachimura and center Moe Wagner as questionable due to health and safety protocols on the injury report.

Point guard Russell Westbrook was already out for the week with a left quad injury. And the team had just lost center Thomas Bryant (ACL) for the season last weekend.

“It’s throughout the league and it’s happening,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said about canceling practice. “And we knew that there is always a possibility that it might happen with us.”

“We have to always focus on the safety of our players, staff and family. That is more important to me than playing the game. If we have to cancel a game or pause, I am for it. Whatever we have to do, I am for it. Our players feel the same way.”

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The NBA and COVID-19 – Game postponements, latest news and updates

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The NBA continues to grapple with COVID-19-related and contact-tracing issues. The league’s health and safety protocols have sidelined players; games have been postponed; and teams have been forced to take the court with the minimum eight active players.

Amid thinning rosters and growing concern across the league, the NBA has no plans to pause the season, a league spokesman told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As the situation evolves, here is everything to know about how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting the NBA:


Game postponements

Here is every game postponed this season due to the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. No makeup dates have been set.

  • Dec. 23: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets

  • Jan. 10: Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

  • Jan. 11: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks

  • Jan. 12: Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls

  • Jan. 13: Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics


Will the league shut down the season? Is another bubble a possibility? Our NBA Insiders dive into the biggest questions facing commissioner Adam Silver and the league right now.


NBA teams are posting historically inconsistent numbers. ESPN NBA Insider Kevin Pelton explains why.


In one weekend, the Sixers competed with just seven players and Heat-Celtics was postponed. And they weren’t the first teams impacted.


News and analysis: How COVID-19 is impacting the NBA

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