Post-All-Star break is usually an exciting time within the NBA with multiple superstar head-to-head matchups slated each week.
In the shorter 2020-21 season, the jam-packed second-half schedule means more of these contests to circle on your calendar.
March 29, Monday
Portland Trail Blazers @ Toronto Raptors – 10:00 a.m
This contest comesevery week after both teams were involved in an exceedingly three-player trade, where Norman Powell was dealt to the Trail Blazers in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.
While the Raptors have suffered defeats in 10 of their last 11 games, the Trail Blazers get Tampa off a few of impressive wins in Miami (CJ McCollum’s 35 points most since return from injury) and Orlando (Jusuf Nurkic returned).
The last time these teams played earlier this season, it went all the way down to the ultimate seconds, so we can be set for one more exciting contest.
Both teams are in the bottom 10 in the league in defensive rating, so we could see an offensive exhibition in this one.
Atlanta Hawks @ Denver Nuggets – 12:00 p.m.
Since interim head coach Nate McMillan took over, the Hawks have won nine of their last 11 games. Currently, on a monster eight-game road trip, can the Hawks carry their momentum to the altitude of Denver?
On the other hand, for the fifth-seeded Nuggets, could we be looking at an Aaron Gordon debut in this one? The last time, both these teams faced off in Denver, Young erupted for 42 points and 11 assists in a win.
March 30, Tuesday
New Orleans Pelicans @ Boston Celtics – 10:30 a.m
Zion Williamson has been on-fire this season, breaking scoring records while averaging 26.3 points on an incredible 62.8% efficiency from the field but the Pelicans have still found it difficult to win games consistently.
The same can be said for the Celtics, who are looking to get some momentum on their side, having failed to do so consistently since their 8-3 start.
These are two teams with young cores that provided an absolute overtime thriller the last time they faced off just over a month earlier.
Milwaukee Bucks @ LA Clippers – 1:00 p.m.
Heading into this week, the Bucks – who are one of only three teams to be in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating – have lost consecutive games after winning 13 out of 14 games while the Clippers have won five-straight after a 10-11 stretch through February.
March 31, Wednesday
Philadelphia 76ers @ Denver Nuggets – 12:00 p.m.
Despite missing Joel Embiid for nine of their last 10 games heading into this week, the 76ers have continued to pass tests with an 8-2 record.
They carry their impressive streak to Denver, where Nikola Jokic is emerging as the MVP frontrunner with injuries potentially ruling out players like Embiid and LeBron James. An Embiid-Jokic contest would have been must-see-TV but given how well Philadelphia has played without their MVP candidate, this one shouldn’t be missed either.
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April 1, Thursday
Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics – 10:30 a.m.
Will Luka Doncic, who has missed the last couple of games with back tightness, suit up for this one? If yes, don’t miss this game.
The last time both these teams played earlier this season, it took a last-second game-winning 3 from Doncic to ice the contest.
Chicago Bulls @ Phoenix Suns – 1:00 p.m.
The Bulls took a huge stride in last week’s mid-season trade deadline with the acquisition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. With his addition, there will be four All-Stars on the floor when they visit the Suns – Chris Paul (PHX), Devin Booker (PHX), and Zach LaVine (CHI).
In their first road trip since the deadline, will the Bulls play start to take shape or will the Suns continue their impressive run, having won 22 of their last 28.
April 2, Friday
Denver Nuggets @ LA Clippers – 1:00 p.m.
RThe Nuggets-Clippers battles have emerged into a can’t-miss rivalry game, especially after their seven-game Conference Semifinals in the 2020 playoffs.
The Clippers, having possibly fixed their point guard problem by acquiring Rajon Rondo, after riding a five-game win streak into this week. Can they extend that past Denver or will MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic carry the talented and deep Nuggets to victory?
Circle this one and the May 1st game between these two on your calendars.
April 3, Saturday
Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks – 10:30 a.m.
The excitement level for this game would be subject to the availability of the Mavericks’ international superstar duo in Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Unlike years past, the Knicks don’t seem to be an easy win on the schedule anymore. The New York franchise is 24-22, good for fifth in the East heading into this week. So, although Doncic’s presence adds more spice to the battle, a game without him would still be a hard-fought, grind-out game that is worth the time.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Portland Trail Blazers – 1:00 p.m.
Can the Bucks get back on track after dropping two straight heading into this week?
If they do intend to return to winning ways, they have to do it on the road with a road trip that starts in Los Angeles to face both the Lakers and Clippers, and then head over to Portland to face the very competitive Trail Blazers. With Jrue Holiday stepping up recently, the Bucks ‘Big 3’ is taking shape while the Trail Blazers have been welcoming their stars back from injuries in CJ McCollum and Nurkic.
This should be a cracker of a contest.
April 4, Sunday
Dallas Mavericks @ Washington Wizards – 10:00 a.m.
Again, will Doncic suit up? If yes, in himself, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Porzingis, there’s no shortage of superstars on the floor for this one.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Sacramento Kings – 1:00 p.m.
The surging Kings will provide no respite for reigning league MVP Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Behind a red-hot De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento has won six of its last seven while this would be the Bucks’ fourth straight road game and on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Kings are starting to make these afternoon West Coast games exciting once again, so don’t miss this one.
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