• (L-R) Lonzo Ball, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker and James Harden (Getty Images)
The National Basketball Association has arrived on SBS, with two games LIVE, FREE and in HD starting this weekend on SBS VICELAND and On Demand.
Jonathan Bernard

25 Oct 2019 - 2:06 PM  UPDATED 25 Oct 2019 - 2:06 PM

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors 

When: Saturday, October 26 at 9:30am (AEDT) LIVE on SBS VICELAND and live streamed via SBS On Demand here

Winning an NBA Championship requires more than just having the best player on the court.

It takes talent, teamwork, desire and defensive dexterity – a trait the Toronto Raptors displayed in full on their way to a historic Championship-winning season in 2018-19.

Led by Kawhi Leonard, perhaps today’s greatest two-way player, the Raptors delivered defensive prowess in abundance en route to their maiden title, secured courtesy of a 4-2 series victory over back-to-back champions, Golden State Warriors.

Aided by the likes of Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry, the fifth-ranked defence stood firm and rode Leonard’s Michael Jordan-like wave all the way to the top.

Now, with Leonard having since signed a three-year, US$103 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, it is this same solidarity head coach Nick Nurse hopes will deliver a determined title defence for the Toronto faithful.

Standing in their way, however, are a Boston Celtics side set out on carving their own path to the top of the Eastern Conference and boosted by the big-money acquisition of All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.

A surprisingly underwhelming campaign cooled Finals expectations surrounding the Celtics last time out, but with their roster retooled under head coach Brad Stevens, anything less than the final four will be considered a failure.

The full game replay will appear here

Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans 

When: Sunday, October 27 at 10:30am (AEDT) LIVE on SBS VICELAND and live streamed via SBS On Demand here

Dell Demps’ refusal to accept the impending departure of Anthony Davis left a stain on an already stuttering 2018-19 season in New Orleans.

The beleaguered general manager’s mismanagement ultimately led to his demise at the Pelicans and has in turn paved the way for one of the most promising eras in franchise history.

With David Griffin’s subsequent appointment, Davis soon swapped NOLA for LA in a trade deal decked in Lakers assets.

Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and a host of draft picks have since put the Pelicans in good stead for the new season – heightened by the arrival of overwhelming first overall draft pick Zion Williamson, who has since been ruled out with a knee injury.

Griffin’s instant rebuild has now given coach Alvin Gentry a youthful and exuberant roster that should look to continue their playoff push against a Houston Rockets side yet to break out of the Western Conference under James Harden’s leadership.

The 2018 MVP will return without Chris Paul in the backcourt after the nine-time All-Star left Houston in exchange for Oklahoma City Thunder triple-double threat, Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook’s presence in the Rockets line-up will almost certainly rectify the rebounding woes that left Mike D’Antoni’s men third-worst on a per-game basis last season.

Better board execution at both ends of the floor “is the number one focus”, according to D’Antoni, and, together with Harden’s unstoppable offence, should propel the Rockets past their recent 53-29 record come April.

The full game replay will appear here