Rejoice NBA fans as the restart to the season begins Thursday night in Orlando.
The NBA has reopened the restart season in Orlando after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 in March. An announcement by the league said that zero positive tests have occurred in the last round of testing.
NBA and NBPA Announce COVID-19 Test Results pic.twitter.com/7qPHfL8fK2
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) July 29, 2020
This is good news for the league after MLB found themselves an outbreak with the Miami Marlins involving 17 players and two coaches testing positive. The Marlins are currently not playing games through Sunday due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Night one of the Orlando tournament will begin Thursday night with two games on the schedule. The first of the doubleheader will be the Utah Jazz playing the New Orleans Pelicans. Los Angeles represents the last game of the night with the Clippers and Lakers facing off against each other.
Previewing NBA Restart in Orlando: First Night
Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans
There is some irony that the team that shut down the NBA season in March would be the first team fans watch on tv. The Utah Jazz come into the game with something to play for despite already clinching a playoff spot. There’s not much of a gap between the second seed and the seventh seed. Utah is currently sitting at four with a chance to move up to as high as the second seed.
Chemistry on the team will be questioned as there is reportedly bad blood between Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell tested positive for COVID-19 around the same time that Gobert did. Fans have to hope the two can work together as they are the two key pieces to the team. Mitchell leads the team with 24.2 points per game and Gobert is averaging a double-double per game.
New Orleans comes in the NBA Orlando restart season with a different situation at hand. They are four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the western conference. Their NBA playoff hopes are still alive, but will need some help to get there. These last eight games will be the most important ones for New Orleans.
Their star player Zion Williamson is also battling with Memphis guard Ja Morant for rookie of the year. After a slow start, Williamson has been everything that was advertised in college with rebounding and scoring in the paint with ease. Brandon Ingram has broken out as a great player who provides their offense with a spark. New Orleans shouldn’t be counted out as playoff contenders.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Two of the best teams in the west are set to battle it out and they both play in Los Angeles. The Clippers are currently second in the west with a 44-20 record just five games behind the Lakers. While it will be a tough task to catch the Lakers, a win on Thursday would go a long way and help them out.
Obviously, everyone knows what Kawhi Leonard and Paul George bring to the table, but people shouldn’t forget about their role players. Guys like Lou Williams who is consistently the best sixth man in the NBA with his scoring abilities. Montrezl Harrell is a post nightmare with his rebounding ability and stellar defense in the paint. Fans can’t forget about Patrick Beverley as he’s arguably the best defensive player in the last decade. If anyone can knock off the almighty Lakers, it’s the Clippers.
Speaking of the almighty Lakers, they come in the NBA restart in Orlando as the best team in the west at 49-14. At least three wins in the last eight games will give them automatically the number one seed in the playoffs. They’re coming off a hot end to the season with winning eight of their last ten games.
The focal points of the team are LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They can do it all offensively and defensively. One concern for the team is the eye injury Davis suffered during scrimmages in Orlando. There is still a chance he misses the opener Thursday. Other key players include Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard. Avery Bradley opted out of the season which leaves veteran JR Smith to step up.