15 Games Besides Lakers-Clippers to Watch During NBA Opening Week and Why

Corey KnappContributor IOctober 22, 2019

Warriors guard Steph Curry will have more on his shoulders this season with the departure of Kevin Durant and injury to Klay Thompson.
Warriors guard Steph Curry will have more on his shoulders this season with the departure of Kevin Durant and injury to Klay Thompson.Noah Graham/Getty Images

After an unprecedented offseason of star players switching teams via free agency and trades, the 2019-20 NBA season finally begins Tuesday. 

We know you'll be tuned in on opening night (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT) to watch LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers take on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers, led by reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. So let this serve as your guide to the other games you cannot miss this week as the NBA tips off.

Games that are out of market and not nationally televised are on NBA League Pass, which you can watch on B/R Live and is free for the opening week.


Note: All times Eastern



Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers | 7:30 p.m on ESPN

Kemba Walker makes his Celtics debut against one of Boston's main rivals in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics still have a ton of talent with Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading what they hope will be a rebound from an odd season a year ago that ended too early.

In Philadelphia, with Jimmy Butler gone, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons become the team leaders for a Sixers team that should contend for the top spot in the East.


Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks | 8:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

One 7-footer exits Dallas, another enters. In the Mavericks' first game without Dirk Nowitzki since 1998, a healthy Kristaps Porzingis, still just 24 years old, makes his team debut. Pair the Latvian unicorn, who was an All-Star before his knee injury and subsequent trade from New York, with the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic, and that's quite the combo in Dallas.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Luka goes 3 straight from deep ☔️ https://t.co/RXjtKIN69r


Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers | 10 p.m. on ESPN

Denver and Portland each took a big step up in the Western Conference last season, and in what could be a transition year for Golden State, they'll be looking to break through even further in 2019-20. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will lead the Blazers, while Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray pace the Nuggets.

Another player to watch is Nuggets second-year player Michael Porter Jr., who didn't play at all last season due to injury but is still regarded as one of the best players from his draft class. He's a dynamic addition to an already dynamic Denver unit.



Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets | 8 p.m. on TNT

Russell Westbrook makes his Rockets debut and takes the court together again with former OKC teammate James Harden. With 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on the opposite side of the court, expect a heavy dose of attacking the paint and rim warfare in this game. And with the Beard and the Greek Freak facing off, it's a matchup of the last two league MVPs.


Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors | 10:30 p.m. on TNT

Leonard plays the Warriors for the first time since defeating them in the NBA Finals just a few months ago. With Paul George out for the start of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, we won't see the Clippers at completely full strength, but L.A. still boasts 2019 Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams as well as strong two-way players in Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell.

For Golden State, this will be its first game in the new Chase Center in San Francisco as well as its first since Kevin Durant left in free agency. The Warriors are missing a star in Klay Thompson due to injury, leaving the squad in the hands of Steph Curry, Draymond Green and new acquisition D'Angelo Russell.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Can't guard Steph when he does this 😳 https://t.co/NI8ZkstO0B



New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets | 7:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

Of course, the first Empire State matchup of the season comes with some drama. After signing with the Nets, Kevin Durant said he and other young players don't see the Knicks being as cool as they used to be. After rupturing his Achilles in the Finals, KD won't play in this game or at all this season, but Friday night will feature newly signed Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan for the Nets.

For the Knicks, RJ Barrett, the No. 3 pick in last summer's draft, makes his NBA debut.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Playing in Brooklyn is bigger than basketball for Kyrie Nothing like playing close to home 🏘 https://t.co/sToD1x98ru


Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans | 8 p.m. on ESPN

We've reached the Zion Williamson section of the opening-week preview—but with an unfortunate backdrop. After sustaining a knee injury during the preseason, he will miss the first couple of weeks of the season. But don't let that deter you from this game, as New Orleans does have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart from the Anthony Davis trade with the Lakers as well as JJ Redick, who signed as a free agent. That group on the floor against Doncic, Porzingis, and newly signed Boban Marjanovic still sets up for an entertaining night.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Luka and Boban all season Team chemistry on 💯 https://t.co/xcHRUwNKeP



Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks | 7:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

Trae Young and the Hawks will be one of, if not the most, fun League Pass teams all season. Young blossomed in the second half of his rookie season and formed a dangerous combination with high-flying forward John Collins. Atlanta played at the fastest pace in the league last season and added lottery picks Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter to the mix, which includes promising second-year wing Kevin Huerter.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Trae just nutmegged JJ in preseason. Disrespect 😂 https://t.co/jcBmuq3afH



Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder | 3:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

Remember when OKC, with Durant and Westbrook, went up 3-1 on the Warriors and then Game 6 Klay happened? KD went to Golden State and won two titles before leaving, and then Russ got traded to Houston in exchange for Chris Paul and some picks? Suffice it to say, Sunday's game will look totally different from that 2016 Western Conference Finals series.


Miami Heat at Minnesota Timberwolves | 7 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

Oh boy, Jimmy Butler returns to Minnesota. After a rocky tenure and forcing his way from the Timberwolves to the 76ers near the start of last season, he makes his way back to Minneapolis again with another new team.

Butler is the unquestioned top dog now in Miami, which begins the post-Dwyane Wade era similarly to how Dallas will operate without Dirk. The four-time All Star also has some dynamic players around him, with a healthy-again Dion Waiters, who's apt to drop 40 any given night, and Derrick Jones Jr., one of the league's highest jumpers and best dunkers. Butler played at Minnesota with the Sixers last spring and did record a double-double, but he'll hope to improve on a 4-of-17 shooting line that yielded only 12 points.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Jimmy Butler setting the tone early 😤 *NSFW* (via @MiamiHEAT) https://t.co/0l4Nmjs3RI


Charlotte Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers | 9:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

LeBron hosts Michael Jordan's team, which no longer has Kemba Walker but does feature rising star Miles Bridges. That might be all the Hornets feature, allowing this matchup to be a real showcase game for the new era of Showtime in L.A., led by James and Davis.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

This Bron no-look pass was absurd... (via @NBATV) https://t.co/z4Z7TQPDqq



Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors | 7:30 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch here

After tipping off the NBA season with a banner-raising ceremony Tuesday, the Raptors come back down to earth at home against the Magic on Monday. Without Leonard, Toronto becomes one of the most intriguing teams in the league. Kyle Lowry, breakout star Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are all still there, and even before winning the title last season, the Raptors were consistently near the top of the East. What does this team do next?


Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets | 8 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch here

Westbrook faces Oklahoma City for the first time. That's really all we need to say. The only thing that could make it better is if the game was in OKC, but that will come later in the season. Paul does make his return to Houston, adding another layer to what will be popcorn-worthy theater on Monday.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Harden and Russ celebrations about to be undefeated this season 🚀 https://t.co/SfQfn2jPf9


Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans | 8 p.m. on NBA TV

Before the Zion injury, we'd hype this game as the present against the future. Without the top pick on the court, the storyline becomes both teams looking and operating differently than last season. No KD for Golden State, no AD for New Orleans. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry was a top assistant to Steve Kerr in Golden State before taking this job and will likely hope to mold his new-look team in that image now that the Anthony Davis trade saga is over. Even with all the turnover, there will be a handful of dynamic players in this game, especially on the offensive end. The Steph Curry and Jrue Holiday back-and-forth will be excellent to watch.



Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets | 9 p.m. on NBA League Pass | Watch Here

Doncic against Murray, Porzingis against Jokic, and toss in Porter as the wild card in what should be a very entertaining matchup out West. This will be the first time that Luka and MPJ share the court after entering the league in the same draft class. The in-game matchup with Jokic will be a great indicator for Porzingis and the Mavs of what level he's at in his return from injury.

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Off-the-ball movement and hustling on defense MPJ doesn’t move like a rookie on the floor 👀 https://t.co/LdVarExPRd


Watch NBA League Pass all season on B/R Live here. Fans can stream games individually or watch with monthly or annual subscriptions. Free preview week on League Pass runs from Wednesday through Tuesday. Pricing for NBA League Pass is as follows:

  • Single Game: $6.99, which drops each quarter (second quarter $4.99, third quarter $2.99, fourth quarter $1.99) 
  • Monthly: $28.99 with access to watch every League Pass game
  • Annual: $199.99 with access to watch every League Pass game

B/R Live is available online, in the app and on connected devices. Check out the full schedule for the 2019-20 season. For more information on watching NBA League Pass on B/R Live, go here.


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