As the NBA season hits it’s All-Star break, the league has already seen some incredible games this season. There will surely be more memorable matchups to add to this list as the playoff races heat up, but there’s already been enough to warrant a countdown. Here are the top 10 games of the NBA season so far...
Honorable Mention: Bulls @ Hornets - November 23rd, 2019
It wasn’t a game everyone had their eyes on as the matchup between two Eastern Conference basement dwellers couldn’t exactly be classified as “marquee”, but Zach LaVine’s improbable heroics at the end of the game deserve just a bit of recognition.
Honorable mention: Spurs @ Pelicans - January 22nd, 2020
Zion Williamson’s debut deserves an honorable mention just for the hype around it. While it didn’t entirely live up to the billing, Zion’s three minute hot streak in which he went 4-4 from downtown was a great moment. The game, although fairly close, wasn’t all that thrilling beyond that short spurt which is why it doesn’t find it’s way into the top 10.
10. Rockets @ Wizards - October 30th, 2019
If you like defense at all, this one wasn’t for you. It can’t be said that this was one of the most well played games of the year by either team, but it had no shortage of clutch shots and big numbers. This one will find a spot in the record books as the highest scoring regulation NBA game of all-time, so it’s hard to keep it off the list.
9. 76ers @ Trail Blazers - November 2nd, 2019
A couple of big shots were enough to get this game to the 9th spot on the list. Just when it seemed like the Trail Blazers had won with a big three by Anfernee Simons off the feed from Damian Lillard, the Sixers came down and stole the game in Portland thanks to Furkan Korkmaz. It hasn’t been a great season for Philadelphia, but this is one of the bright spots in a season that’s featured wildly high highs and depressingly low lows.
8. Bucks @ Jazz - November 8th, 2019
This game slipped under the radar for most NBA fans, but it was one of the best. One of the few losses for the Bucks this season came at the hands of Bojan Bogdanovic, who dropped a game-high 33 points and the buzzer beater to win the game. The Jazz came frighteningly close to blowing a sizable end of game lead in this one, but avoided disaster thanks to their big free agent signing.
7. Rockets @ Clippers - November 22nd, 2019
As Russell Westbrook and Paul George faced off as opponents for the first time since they were both traded away from Oklahoma City last summer, the Rockets and Clippers didn’t disappoint. The game ended with a rather familiar sight: Russell Westbrook bricking a three the other team was daring him to shoot so they could avoid being beat by his superior teammate. The Clippers were more than happy to let Westbrook decide his team’s fate over James Harden.
6. Nets @ Grizzlies - October 27th, 2019
Consider this the game that people realized Ja Morant was going to be really good. In his 3rd career NBA game, Morant went toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best point guards, Kyrie Irving, and took him down. Morant’s 30 points in this game remains his current career-high as of today, though that likely won’t hold true for very long. Jae Crowder’s buzzer beater was just the icing on the cake of an incredible game.
5. Warriors @ Trail Blazers - January 20th, 2020
This one finds itself on the list as the honorary Damian Lillard game. Lillard has had what would be considered an MVP caliber season if it wasn’t for his team’s record. His stretch from late January to early February is one of the best scoring runs the league has ever seen. In this game against the Warriors, Lillard continuously hit clutch shot after clutch shot at every turn, refusing to let his team lose on his way to 61 points. It was a one man show, just as Portland has been for most of the season. It’s currently the highest scoring game by any single player in the NBA this season.
4. Celtics @ Clippers - November 20th, 2019
The first installment of the 2-game series between these teams didn’t disappoint. The Celtics held a 7-point lead late in this one, but Patrick Beverley would not stop hitting big corner threes. Just as it looked like the Celtics would lose in regulation, Jayson Tatum crossed Paul George and sent it to overtime. The Celtics had a few chances to send it to double OT, but came up just short as Kawhi Leonard blocked Kemba Walker’s game-tying three at the buzzer. It would’ve seemed crazy at the time to suggest that it wouldn’t even be the best game these two teams played in the regular season...
3. Clippers @ Lakers - December 25th, 2019
Everyone knew going into the season these game would be must see TV. The second “Battle of LA” against one another on Christmas Day certainly lived up to the hype after a relatively forgettable opening night matchup. With a chance to tie it up at the end of regulation, LeBron James was blocked by Patrick Beverley and that’s how it ended. Leonard dropped 35 points and the Clippers took a 2-0 lead in the season series, taking home the bragging rights as the superior Los Angeles team... for now.
2. Lakers @ Mavericks - November 1st, 2019
Luka Doncic’s season has been incredible and this game was one of the biggest milestones for him along the way. Luka went shot for shot with LeBron James down the stretch as both tried to will their teams to victory. Both notched 30-point triple doubles with LeBron’s 39-16-12 topping Luka’s 31-15-13. While the game didn’t end in exciting fashion, Danny Green’s game tying shot in regulation provided the matchup with the token clutch shot it needed to be ranked so highly. Still, this has more to do with an incredible duel by two of the game’s greats than anything else.
1. Clippers @ Celtics - February 13th, 2020
The NBA went into the All-Star break in style. There’s no recency bias at play here, this game had it all. The Celtics missing Jaylen Brown and the Clippers losing Paul George in the first half was disappointing, but everything else about this matchup was spectacular. It was Jayson Tatum and Lou Williams who traded buckets down the stretch and ultimately Boston came out on top in double overtime. With two incredible matchups in the books between these two teams, any neutral party should be clambering to see these teams this June in the NBA Finals.
Photo: (Elise Amendola - AP Photo)