The NBA released its schedule for games in Orlando on Friday with the season resuming on July 30. Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans will tip off the NBA restart against the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert, whose positive test for the coronavirus helped lead to the suspension of the season on March 11.
After that, James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers will resume their title chase by facing Leonard, Paul George and the LA Clippers in a clash between the top two teams in the Western Conference. The Lakers (49-14) lead the Clippers (44-20) in the West by 5½ games. It remains to be seen how long both teams will play their stars given the long layoff and how cautious they will be as players ramp back up for postseason play.
On July 31, there will be six games, something that will take place seven times in the seeding-game schedule. The Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers will square off in a key game in the chase for the eighth spot in the West on that second night. The Grizzlies (32-33) lead Portland, New Orleans and Sacramento by 3½ games and San Antonio by four games.
Friday, July 31, also will feature a marquee doubleheader with the Boston Celtics facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks (6:30 p.m. ET) and the Houston Rockets taking on the Dallas Mavericks (9 p.m. ET). Both games will air on ESPN.
Coverage will carry into the weekend, with the Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets (1 p.m. ET) airing on ESPN on Saturday, Aug. 1, and the Trail Blazers vs. Celtics (3:30 p.m. ET) and Bucks vs. Rockets (8:30 p.m. ET) airing Sunday, Aug. 2, on ABC.
The NBA has never faced the challenges of restarting a season after a four-plus-month hiatus. With 22 teams each crammed into an eight-game seeding portion of the schedule between July 30 and Aug. 14, there will be three instances during the restart schedule in which seven games will be played during one day. Each team also will play one back-to-back set.
On Aug. 9, one of the days in which there are seven games scheduled, the Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder tip off at 12:30 p.m. ET, the earliest tip time of all games. That day ends with the Brooklyn Nets and Clippers tipping off at 9 p.m. ET.
If a team is within four games of the eighth seed in a conference at the end of the seeding games, there will be a play-in tournament to determine the eighth playoff seed.