The NBA season’s suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic has left fans without their basketball fix. That’s why NBA League Pass is providing a free preview during the hiatus until April 22, complete with every game from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons along with an archive of classics.
But with so many games to choose from, which should you watch? We’ve got you covered.
From the buzzer-beater that broke the Oklahoma City Thunder, to the most recent LeBron James-Zion Williamson showdown, to the best performances from James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Trae Young, our experts are breaking down the must-rewatch game for all 30 teams.
MORE: What the NBA suspension could mean for max contracts
Jan. 28, 2020: No MVP, no problem
Khris Middleton posted a career-best 51 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists on 16-for-26 shooting, leading the Bucks to their ninth straight win, a 151-131 rout of the Wizards. Playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was out because of right shoulder soreness, Middleton, like several players this week, drew inspiration from the late Kobe Bryant. Wizards guard Bradley Beal was strong in the losing effort, scoring 47 as he and Middleton nearly accomplished the first dueling 50-point games since Dec. 6, 2000, when Bryant and Antawn Jamison did so as members of the Lakers and Warriors, respectively.
Honorable mentions: OK, want some Giannis action? Here’s the reigning MVP erasing his playoff demons with a 36-15-8-4 line in an impressive Nov. 2 victory over the Raptors. And check out the 50 points he dropped on one of the stingier defenses in the league in Milwaukee’s 122-118 win over Utah on Nov. 25.
— Eric Woodyard
Los Angeles Lakers
March 1, 2020: LeBron vs. Zion
Like Marlon Brando sharing the screen with a young Al Pacino in “The Godfather” or the 46-year-old Robin Williams starring opposite the 27-year-old Matt Damon when “Good Will Hunting” was released, the Lakers’ 122-114 win over the Pelicans offered a special dynamic. There was LeBron James, in the twilight of his prime, facing off against the most hyped rookie since James himself, Zion Williamson. And they both balled out. It’s such a gift to be seemingly watching the past and the future at the same time in the present. And to get it in a competitive game where both guys went for 30-plus points? It’s worth watching again and again. — Dave McMenamin
June 13, 2019: Raptors topple Warriors’ dynasty
There are few more iconic shots in NBA history than Kawhi Leonard’s looping jumper over Joel Embiid in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals — a shot that still feels as if it’s still bouncing around the rim inside Scotiabank Arena these many months later. And there were plenty of wild games along the way during last year’s postseason. But there isn’t another choice for a Raptors fan looking for a game to watch than this one, when Toronto officially claimed the first championship in the franchise’s history by beating the Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the Finals. — Tim Bontemps
Dec. 25, 2019: The gift of Clippers-Lakers Part 2
You could make the argument that any of the three Lakers-Clippers meetings this season is the game to watch, but this Christmas Day showdown had a palpable playoff electricity to it at Staples Center. It was the first time we saw Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together against the Lakers — PG-13 missed the teams’ season-opening meeting after offseason shoulder surgeries. And with the entire country watching, the game went down to the final seconds. Down three, LeBron James had the ball in his hands, but the Clippers won with a defensive stand as Patrick Beverley swiped the ball off James on a 3-point attempt with 3.6 seconds left to give the Clippers their second straight win over the Lakers 111-106. –– Ohm Youngmisuk
Feb. 13, 2020: Tatum’s arrival in a 2OT thriller
This is the easy call for a number of reasons. First, any Celtics fan has done everything they can to forget about the never-ending misery of last season. Second, this was an instant classic, with the Celtics and Clippers teams following their overtime thriller in November at Staples Center with a stupendous showing in their final game before the All-Star break at Boston’s TD Garden. And third, it truly marked the coming-out party for Jayson Tatum, who scored 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting while going head-to-head with Kawhi Leonard at both ends of the floor in a 141-133 double-overtime win. — Bontemps
April 27, 2019: Nuggets topple Spurs in Game 7
If you’re looking for one that’s going to knock off a few hours, the Nuggets’ four-overtime game against the Trail Blazers from last postseason could be a candidate. But as great a game as it was, Denver lost it. So let’s go with their Game 7 win over the Spurs, ugly as it was. There was so much tension and pressure in the Pepsi Center that night for the young Nuggets. They were tight, and it showed, but they gutted it out, making plays in the final minutes — like Jamal Murray’s floater with 36 seconds to go — to secure a playoff series win for the first time since 2009. — Royce Young
March 2, 2019: Donovan Mitchell’s career night
This probably isn’t a game that Rudy Gobert will watch to pass the time during the hiatus. He was minus-36, but the Jazz still managed to beat the team with the best record in the league. Donovan Mitchell scored a career-high 46 points — 31 in the second half — to beat soon-to-be MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks 115-111. — Tim MacMahon
Feb. 27, 2019: Wade’s buzzer-beater
In his final season, Dwyane Wade saved one of his best moments for the defending NBA champs. Wade drained a last-second prayer, banking in a 3-pointer off of one foot at the buzzer as the Heat knocked off the Warriors 126-125.
“It’s special for me,” Wade said after the game. “Obviously as a team we needed this win bad, but we kept fighting, everybody.”
In a career full of highlights, Wade celebrated with Miami fans for a few minutes as the American Airlines Arena crowd roared its approval. — Nick Friedell
Oklahoma City Thunder
Dec. 6, 2019: The jersey game in OKC
Simultaneously being this NBA season’s kings of the comeback and clutch-time masters, there are a lot of exhilarating Thunder games from which to pick. Like their 26-point comeback against the Bulls that featured five fourth-quarter 3s from Chris Paul, or the 15-point fourth-quarter rush to stun the Rockets in Houston. But it has to be the Untucked Jersey Game. The probability of OKC winning was almost comical with 1.1 seconds left, down two and Karl-Anthony Towns at the free throw line. But a delay of game for an untucked jersey, astutely pointed out by Paul, an accidental made free throw by Towns, then a go route to Dennis Schroder for a layup at the buzzer forced overtime. And at that point, the Wolves were mentally beat. The Thunder just had to finish them. — Young
Oct. 30, 2019: The 317-point game
You can find many more impressive and important performances by Houston over the past couple of seasons. But for pure entertainment value, it’s hard to beat the absurdity of the Rockets and Wizards combining to score 317 points in 48 minutes. James Harden scored 59 points on 32 field goal attempts to help the Rockets win 159-158. He actually scored more points on fewer shots in a game this season — without playing the fourth quarter — but a blowout win over the Hawks isn’t exactly entertaining. — MacMahon
April 10, 2019: Pacers’ League Pass alert
A couple of different games came to mind initially — including Victor Oladipo’s tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation against the Bulls on Jan. 29 in his first game back from rehabbing an injury. But ultimately the choice came down to the final game of the 2018-19 regular season against the Hawks because it was a truly wild game. Edmond Sumner made three free throws as time expired to give Indiana a 135-134 win in a game where T.J. Leaf led both teams in scoring with 28 points. It’s the definition of a League Pass game — one you walk into with no expectations, and all of a sudden is wildly entertaining. — Bontemps
Dec. 25, 2019: Sixers display full potential
So much about this season has not gone according to what Philadelphia had expected when it put this team together last summer. But when the Sixers have played at or near their potential, they have shown just how good they can be — and there was no better example of this than when the Sixers beat the Bucks 121-109 at home on Christmas Day. For Sixers fans hoping that their team can put everything together in the postseason, this game is a sign that Philadelphia is at least capable of that, regardless of the many ups and downs this season. — Bontemps
April 9, 2019: Dirk’s Dallas farewell
Dirk Nowitzki’s final night in uniform at the American Airlines Center was unforgettable; from all the pomp and circumstance surrounding it and his 30-point performance (oldest dude ever to score 30 in the NBA!) to the postgame speech when he announced his retirement. Bonus: Luka Doncic put the finishing touches on his Rookie of the Year campaign with a 21-16-11 triple-double, cementing a 120-109 Mavs win over the Suns. (Oh, and Jamal Crawford put up 51 points for the Suns in what probably will end up being his last NBA game.) — MacMahon
Oct. 27, 2019: Ja Morant’s coming-out party
This was the first win for the #NxtGenGrz and the night that Ja Morant made it clear that he had the makings of a franchise cornerstone, scoring 17 points during the fourth quarter to key Memphis’ comeback and stuffing Kyrie Irving’s attempted buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime. Morant delivered the dime for Jae Crowder’s game-winner that beat the buzzer, securing a 134-133 Grizzlies win. — MacMahon
Jan. 31, 2020: Uncle Drew drops 54 points
Just days after his friend and mentor Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, Kyrie Irving went for 54 points in the Nets’ 133-118 win over the Bulls. If the sheer number of points wasn’t impressive enough, the uber-efficiency was jaw-dropping. He went 19-for-23 from the field, 9-for-10 from the free throw line and 7-for-9 from 3-point range. — Malika Andrews
Jan. 15, 2020: Fultz’s triple-double
Markelle Fultz reminded the NBA just how talented he is in a surprising 119-118 win over the Lakers at Staples Center. Fultz racked up a triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in one of the organization’s most memorable wins in years. He made several key baskets late — giving the Magic a much-needed jolt of excitement in the process. — Friedell
Portland Trail Blazers
April 23, 2019: Logo Lillard calls series
Sure, you remember the Damian Lillard 36-foot dagger at the buzzer that knocked the Thunder out of the playoffs, ended the Russell Westbrook era in Oklahoma City and launched a thousand memes. But what’s easy to forget if you haven’t rewatched Game 5 of the Blazers’ opening-round win over Oklahoma City is that they trailed by 15 points with 7:45 to play before a furious comeback put them in position for Lillard to win the game 118-115. On second viewing, crucial buckets from CJ McCollum (who outscored Lillard 10-8 in the fourth quarter) might stand out. — Kevin Pelton
New Orleans Pelicans
Feb. 11, 2020: Zion goes off against the Blazers
Rookie sensation Zion Williamson had perhaps the best game of his young career with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists in just under 28 minutes of work. Oh, and it was only the ninth game of his career. Portland led by as many as 16 points in the first half and were up by 14 midway through the second quarter, but it was all New Orleans from there on out. The Pelicans went wild with a 41-point third quarter to take control and win 138-117.
Honorable mention: Let’s pick a quarter here. Better yet, let’s pick three minutes and eight seconds. That’s how long it took for Williamson to score 17 consecutive points in his NBA debut with 3-pointer after 3-pointer after 3-pointer after 3-pointer. — Andrew Lopez
Jan. 27, 2020: Comeback Kings
The Kings pulled off one of the best comebacks in recent NBA history. Down by 17 with 2:49 left in regulation, Buddy Hield & Co. raced back to knock off the Timberwolves in overtime 133-129. Hield finished with a career-high 42 points. To put it in perspective: NBA teams entered the day 0-8,378 when trailing by 17 or more in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. — Friedell
San Antonio Spurs
Jan. 3, 2019: Spurs fans let Kawhi hear it
Ah yes, the Kawhi Leonard return game. There were boos. So many boos. As Leonard returned to San Antonio for the first time since forcing his way out of the franchise with which he first won an NBA title, the fans let him have it. They chanted “Traitor!” and “Quitter!” as Leonard and the Raptors could never find footing. On the other side, DeMar DeRozan posted the only triple-double of his career — 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists — as the Spurs cruised to a 125-107 victory. — Lopez
March 6, 2020: Aron Baynes … from downtown!
Before this game, Aron Baynes never made more than four 3s in a game. The most points he ever scored in a game was 26. But the massive 33-year-old center has become much more than just another bruiser, and he proved it that magical night against Portland. Baynes exploded for nine 3s and a career-high 37 points and led the Suns past the Blazers. — Kirk Goldsberry
Dec. 5, 2019: Early sparks in D.C.
Behind a strong offense, the Wizards have shown glimpses of very good basketball this season. Check out their win over Philly. Why? Their prized rookie, Rui Hachimura scored 27, while the Latvian Laser, Davis Bertans, poured in 25, including seven 3s, to help the Wiz put up 119 points in an impressive early season victory over the Sixers. — Goldsberry
Nov. 16. 2019: Graham’s Garden party
Devonte’ Graham has a been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season. Last season, he averaged just over four points per game, this season he’s up to 18.2. If you had to pinpoint the game where he announced this season would be different, you might choose this game. On that night, Graham drained nine 3s, including the game-winner against the Knicks on a perfect play design from coach James Borrego. A game-winning 3 on a Saturday night at Madison Square Garden? It doesn’t get much better than that. — Goldsberry
Nov. 23, 2019: LaVine’s 13th 3 wins it
After falling behind 13-0 in the opening quarter during a home loss to the Heat, Bulls coach Jim Boylen singled out Zach LaVine by benching him for what he described at the time as “three egregious defensive mistakes.” Behind closed doors, Boylen was pushing LaVine to stay engaged in games. LaVine responded with a career-best 49-point performance — including the winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds remaining — to lead the Bulls past the Hornets on the road 116-115. His 13 3-pointers that night tied Warriors guard Stephen Curry for second most in NBA history. — Woodyard
New York Knicks
Nov. 14, 2019: A not-so-warm welcome to the Garden
Over that past decade, there hasn’t been much cause for Knicks’ fans to celebrate. But the beauty of League Pass is that you can pick and choose to only watch the good moments. Rewatch the Knicks’ 106-103 win over their former franchise star Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavericks, and you wouldn’t know New York has been a losing franchise for years. Come for Julius Randle’s double-double and stay for the Madison Square Garden crowd reacting to Porzingis’ return to New York. By the looks of it, you’d never know this would be one of the last games before yet another Knicks’ coaching change. — Andrews
Dec. 9, 2019: D-Rose flips the switch
The postgame comments said it all: “Excuse my English but I’m born to do this s—,” Pistons guard Derrick Rose bluntly said during his postgame interview.
In the midst of a comeback season, the former MVP went off for 17 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter to lift the Pistons past the Pelicans on the road 105-103. Rose nailed a 14-foot jumper in the lane with 0.3 seconds remaining after taking over down the stretch. The victory was Detroit’s fourth win in five games. — Woodyard
Feb. 20, 2020: Trae goes off for 50
The Hawks don’t have a lot of memorable wins on the list from the past two seasons, but Trae Young certainly has a number of memorable performances. And as mesmerizing and exciting as he is, there’s plenty to choose from in terms of entertainment value. Young’s 50 on the Heat in a shocking road win is worth the rewatch, if only because it shows the potential of the Hawks and what they’re trying to build: Young’s brilliance, a high tempo, well spaced and paced offense and some key contributions propping up individual greatness. Watch it and believe in better days, Hawks fans. — Young
Feb. 8, 2020: Timberwolves sink 26 3s
After the Timberwolves completely overhauled their roster at the trade deadline, fans starved for success got their first look at most of the newcomers two nights later. (Guard D’Angelo Russell, the centerpiece of Minnesota’s trades, sat out because of a thigh contusion.) Led by seven 3s from Malik Beasley in his Twin Cities debut, the Timberwolves made a franchise-record 26 triples as a team en route to running one of the NBA’s top title contenders — with both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard starting — out of the building. Minnesota fans hope the 142-115 win over the Clippers is a harbinger of what’s to come. — Pelton
Feb. 24, 2020: Cavs top Heat in OT
While the two years since LeBron James’ second departure haven’t yielded many wins, Cavaliers fans can feel good about the team’s 5-6 record since the All-Star break under new coach J.B. Bickerstaff. For my money, the best of those wins came when Cleveland rallied from a 19-point deficit after three quarters to force overtime and eventually beat the Heat 125-119 behind a career-high 30 points from rookie Kevin Porter Jr. Cavaliers fans can watch this game and hope for brighter days ahead. — Pelton
Golden State Warriors
Oct. 24, 2018: Steph’s 51-point game
Everybody is in need of some extra joy these days, so watch Stephen Curry drop 51 points on the Wizards in three quarters. Oracle was rocking as Curry hit 11 3-pointers in 32 minutes. “I don’t even know how to describe what I witnessed tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Amazing. Video game stuff.”
After you watch this one, check out Klay Thompson setting a 3-point record with 14 triples a few days later in a win over the Bulls. — Friedell
Source: Read Full Article