Pelicans-Jazz to open NBA resumption of season in Orlando
For the first time in the 18-year history of the New Orleans franchise, the Pelicans will play a game in July that’s not part of a summer league or held in Las Vegas.
The NBA and ESPN announced Friday evening that New Orleans (28-36) will resume its 2019-20 regular season Thursday, July 30, with a 5:30 p.m. Central game vs. the Utah Jazz in Orlando. The Western Conference matchup is the very first tilt of the entire 88-game portion of seeding games.
Four key head-to-head matchups
Although scoreboard-watching is guaranteed to be one fun element of the 16-day seeding round for many fan bases, the Pelicans actually play four times vs. teams they’re directly competing with in the West standings. There are two games against Sacramento (tied with NOLA), as well as one apiece vs. Memphis (3.5 games ahead) and San Antonio (0.5 game behind).
The other four games are split between West playoff locks (Clippers, Utah) and two East teams vying to reach the postseason (Orlando, Washington).
In the national spotlight
New Orleans was en route to setting a franchise record for national TV appearances when the season was suspended March 11 – moments before what would’ve been an ESPN broadcast at Sacramento. So it should be no surprise that networks jumped at the chance to show more of the Pelicans in Orlando. Six games are scheduled for national TV, with every major partner joining the fun (two on ESPN, two on TNT, one on ABC, one on NBA TV). Information on the team’s local broadcast slate for Fox Sports New Orleans will be available at a later date.
Dinner and hoops, anyone?
Oddly, the team’s first three games in Orlando will take place during the 5 p.m. hour (which is the 6 p.m. hour in the Eastern time zone). The Pelicans have one early-afternoon tip (12:30 p.m. CT on Aug. 6 vs. Sacramento), as well as two games that could be described as in “prime time” (Aug. 7 vs. Washington and Aug. 11 vs. Sacramento at 7 and 8 p.m. CT). Incidentally, the eighth and final game vs. Orlando is listed as TBD, presumably to provide the NBA with scheduling flexibility, based on which matchups will most affect the standings.
Only one back-to-back
With teams playing eight seeding games over a 16-day span – and common opponents overlapping all over the schedule – it was impossible to avoid back-to-backs. New Orleans has one such instance, Aug. 6-7, but the league built in some assistance by making the first game a Thursday afternoon matchup, but the second a Friday evening contest. As a result, there are actually 30.5 hours between tip-off of the pair of games. Under many circumstances during a common NBA regular season, that number is 23 or 24.
New Orleans schedule at a glance
All times Central (national TV in parentheses)
Thursday, July 30 vs. Utah, 5:30 (TNT)
Saturday, Aug. 1 vs. LA Clippers, 5 (ESPN)
Monday, Aug. 3 vs. Memphis, 5:30 (ESPN)
Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Sacramento, 12:30 (NBA TV)
Friday, Aug. 7 vs. Washington, 7
Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. San Antonio, 2 (ABC)
Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Sacramento, 8 (TNT)
Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Orlando, TBD