The 2019-20 NBA season might be on hold as the covid-19 pandemic sweeps the globe, but even if the league’s current campaign doesn’t resume, basketball fans and betting enthusiasts everywhere have had a wild ride of a season that will go down as one of the most memorable ever for, both, its, on-court exploits and off-court headline-making events. The 74th season is league history began on October 22, 2019 and was suspended on March 11, 2020. Now, Let’s get started with a look at the league’s most defining moments this season.
The Most Defining Moments of the NBA 2020 Season
LeBron Vs. Kawhi I
The Lakers and Clippers square off in their first meeting on opening night and it didn’t disappoint as Kawhi Leonard and the new-look Clippers subdued LeBron James and the similarly new-look Lakers 112-102. While new Laker Anthony Davis scored a team-high 30 points and James added 28 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, Paul George scored a game-high 31 points while Leonard added 27 in the convincing win. Message delivered.
In the Eastern Conference, Atlanta Hawks young point guard Trae Young went off to win Player of the Week honors while Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl Anthony Towns displayed a new three-point shot that won him the award out west.
Over the next five weeks, four different players in both conferences would have monster weeks to win the award including Giannis Antetokounmpo (twice) and James Harden (twice). Then, in December, Jimmy Butler and the blossoming Bam Adebayo would go ‘back-to-back’ to claim Player of the Week in the east before Kyle Lowry, Jaylen Brown and the Greek Freak closed out the month with a bang. Out west, after Luka Doncic made his presence felt with a string of triple-doubles and Carmelo Anthony had a monster week in Portland, Davis and James won consecutive Player of the Week honors before Dennis Schröder and Brandon Ingram would add their names to the Player of the Week role call while James capped off the month with his second standout week.
To kick off January, Josh Richardson and Ben Simmons won consecutive Play of the Week honors for Philadelphia while Toronto’s Pascal Siakim and Boston’s Jaylen Brown has monster weeks to cap off the month. Out west, Spurs shooting guard DeMar DeRozan and Kawhi Leonard won back to back Player of the Week honors before an absolutely stunning, record-setting run by Portland superstar point guard Damian Lillard won him consecutive Player of the Weeks awards out west to cap off the month.
Christmas Gifts Delivered
The NBA’s Christmas Day lineup of five games didn’t disappoint and a handful of ‘presents’ were delivered that day. The Celtics took out Toronto in a matchup of two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia stunned Milwaukee as Joel Embiid had a monster game. The reloading Warriors pulled off the big upset over James Harden and the offensive-minded Rockets and New Orleans upset Denver in a stunner. However, the game everyone really wanted to see didn’t disappoint as the Clippers beat the Lakers for the second time 111-106, More importunately, Kawhi Leonard was clearly the best player on the floor as he put up 35 points and 12 rebounds while LeBron James was limited to 23 points and Anthony Davis, 24 points.
Lillard Lights It Up
Beginning with a stupendous 61-point explosion against Golden State on Jan. 20, Lillard scored a mesmerizing 293 points over the next six games while dropping 47 on Dallas, 50 against Indiana, 48 against the Lakers and 51 against Utah. Lillard’s 49 3-pointers during his streak were the most of any six-game stretch in NBA history. Lillard joined James Harden and Kobe Bryant as the only players to score at least 293 points over a six-game span in the last 20 years.
Kobe Bryant Dies
Tragically, the NBA was rocked on the morning of Jan. 26, when reports of Kobe Bryant’s death came out. The NBA legend along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other passengers all perished in a helicopter crash, in Calabasas that sent shock waves throughout the league. No games were postponed outside the Lakers’ meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers, but there were tributes for Bryant throughout the league and across the globe.
After being forced to miss the start of the season because of a knee injury, No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson made his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans by putting up 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and five turnovers in 18 minutes in a narrow, 121-117 loss to San Antonio.
The All-Star Game
With everyone connected to the NBA still in mourning over the loss of Bryant, the league implemented some new rules at this year’s all-star game that made the annual affair a lot better and far more competitive than we’ve seen in past years. After three quarters of play, 24 points—in honor of Bryant—were added to the leading team’s total to create the target score to attain. With no shot clock in the final frame, the Elam ending was a huge success as Team LeBron eked out a narrow 157-155 win over Team Giannis.
Jayson Tatum Reaches Next Level
Starting with a 41-point effort against New Orleans on Jan. 11 Boston Celtics all-star forward Jayson Tatum started heating up in a big way. However, it was on Feb. 1 that the blossoming young star started going completely bonkers with a 25-point night against Philly. In 12 games during the month, Tatum scored 30 or more six times while putting up a career-high 41 against LeBron James and the Lakers in a nationally-televised showdown on Feb. 23. For the month of February,
Tatum averaged a stellar 30.7 points per game to become the fifth player in team history to average 30 points a game in one month, with a minimum of 10 games played. Tatum joins the legendary Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, Paul Pierce and the late John Havlicek as the only players to accomplish the feat.
This season, Tatum is averaging a career-high 23.5 points per game. He also holds the distinction of being the first player in NBA history to hold career averages of more than 17.0 points per game in the regular season and 17.0 points per game in the postseason for a player under the age of 21.
LeBron Vs. Kawhi III
On March 8, you’d think the Lakers would have won the championship after beating the Clippers for the first time in three meetings, 112-103 as LeBron James put up 28, 8 and 9 and Anthony Davis contributed a team-high 30 points. Paul George (31) and Kawhi Leonard (27) also combined for 58 points in the loss.
Rudy Gobert Tests Positive – Season Suspended
On March 11, the NBA suspended its regular season after Utah jazz all-star center and two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19, also known as the novel coronavirus. The test result came just ahead of tip-off for the Jazz’s game at the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game was canceled.