NBA

Must watch League Pass matchups for NBA opening week

NBA opening week is here!

You know what that means: Multiple devices and long days of watching hoops as League Pass season has arrived.

Watch live games on your favourite device with NBA League Pass

To get you primed we've taken a look at the most intriguing matchups you will not want to miss in the first week of the 2021 season.

Thursday, Dec. 24 - Charlotte Hornets at Cleveland Cavaliers

It's most likely been a long time since you put a Hornets-Cavaliers matchup in the must watch catagory but this one fits the bill.

If there is one thing we learned from NBA preseason, it's that LaMelo Ball is going to be must watch on League Pass. The Hornets will be without Gordon Hayward for the early portion on the season with a finger injury, which will only increase the workload that will be expected on the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft.

Ball will be erratic, he will make mistakes, but sprinkled in with those learning moments will be snippets of pure brilliance, like we saw through his first minutes on an NBA floor.

It's unclear whether Charlotte will be able to force their way into playoff contention in 2021, but you should have the debut of Ball locked in on your League Pass schedule.

Thursday, Dec. 24 - New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors

You get to tick two boxes with this Pelicans-Raptors matchup.

1) Zion Williamson.

2) A little bit of history as the Raptors host their first regular season game in Tampa.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 Draft looks to be in good shape heading into the season, leading the NBA in scoring with 28.5 points per game in the preseason to go along with 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

The fact they are playoff a playoff hardened Raptors squad is just icing in this one because to be fair, the Pelicans are going to be must watch every night.

Thursday, Dec 24 - Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers

Russell Westbrook in a Wizards uniform will probably feel strange for a while, but perhaps we should be getting used to seeing him change his colours.

Washington will make it three teams in three seasons for the former MVP and if there is one thing for certain, this squad should be entertaining.

It might be hard to believe, but until the new year last season the Wizards owned a top-five offence. With Bradley Beal on a tear, Washington played fast paced and had no trouble putting points on the board. The defence was and will be no doubt questionable, but adding Westbrook into the mix with Beal and Davis Bertans ensures a high octane attack will be coming out of DC.

As long as you aren't a Wizards fan with emotional investment in the results, this team should be a lock for every night entertainment.

Sunday, Dec. 27 - Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz

There are a couple of intriguing storylines to follow in this one.

For Minnesota, the season will represent an opportunity for an extended look at the pairing of Karl Anthony-Towns and D'Angelo Russell. Sprinkled in with that talented duo will be the No. 1 overall pick from the 2020 Draft in Anthony Edwards.

The talent is there with the Wolves, it just remains to be seen how it will translate to success in a tough Western Conference that includes contenders like the Utah Jazz.

An often overlooked fact from Utah's bubble run was the absence of Bojan Bogdanovic. Despite missing their second leading scorer the Jazz should have reached the second round after blowing a 3-1 lead. Is Donovan Mitchell the real deal?

The answer to that question will play out over the course of the season but this early matchup will be part of the tale.

Monday, Dec. 28 - Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers

The Celtics and Pacers are both mainstays in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Perennially underrated, Indiana will be boosted by the returning Victor Oladipo, who enters the season healthy and hoping to recover his All-Star form of three seasons ago. The Celtics on the other hand will be without Kemba Walker for the start of the season, and it will be interesting to see how head coach Brad Stevens adjust without an important scoring option.

This could be a playoff matchup, and every game counts when it comes to jostling for playoff seeding.

Tuesday, Dec. 29 - Houston Rockets at Denver Nuggets

James Harden vs. Jamal Murray.

Two scoring machines who could explode for 50 points on any given night. Of course, we are placing this here under the assumption Harden will still be in Houston in a weeks time which....who knows. But for now, this is a game you will want to tune in for between two aspiring contenders.

Wednesday, Dec. 30 - Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers

Both the Sixers and Raptors make their second entry on this list in a matchup that is very much National TV quality.

Philadelphia re-jigged the roster in an attempt to add more shooting (Seth Curry, Danny Green) and remove ill-fitting pieces (Al Horford, Josh Richardson) while also bringing Doc Rivers in as head coach and Daryl Morey to the front office.

Of course, there are also the seemingly never ending trade rumours surrounding Ben Simmons which only adds to the intrigue. The Sixers should be a terrifying team in the East, but instead they remain a curiosity. A strong performance again one of the most stable organisations in the league would be a good start.

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