It was just a few months in the past that the Denver Nuggets claimed their first championship in franchise historical past as superstar center Nikola Jokic formally stamped himself as the most effective basketball participant on the earth. Since then, the NBA has seen a staggering Bradley Beal trade to the Phoenix Suns, the arrival of Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 total draft decide, and revamped rosters across the league following free agency.
A new NBA season formally begins in mid Oct., and now we all know the schedule for every group within the upcoming 2023-2024 season.
The 82-game regular season is a marathon for everyone involved, but certain matchups are extra compelling than others. Here’s a look at the eight spiciest video games on the new NBA slate, with a give attention to star players visiting their former groups, matchups between prime draft picks, and groups at present concerned in commerce rumors that still haven’t been completed.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Miami Heat, Feb. 27, TNT
The greatest ongoing storyline within the NBA is Damian Lillard’s commerce demand. The long-time Trail Blazers celebrity informed his group he only needs to play for the Miami Heat, however to this point the 2 sides have but to work out a deal. Whether Lillard will get traded to Miami or stays with Portland, this recreation goes to be must-see TV with the whole world knowing the place Dame really needs to be. No one expects Lillard to carry out or tank his personal play if he doesn’t get his wish earlier than the season, however it will be fascinating to see how Lillard handles all the eye of this matchup whatever the outcome of his commerce demand.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star by way of Getty Images
Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets, Feb. 9
Fred VanVleet went from an undrafted free agent to an NBA champion and All-Star with the Toronto Raptors. Most expected VanVleet to return to the Raptors as he hit free company this summer time, however instead the veteran level guard took an enormous bag to sign with the Houston Rockets. VanVleet’s three-year, $130 million contract was arguably the most gorgeous transfer of the offseason, both when it comes to the value tag and the impression for a rising younger group in Houston. The Rockets badly wanted improved level guard play this season, and VanVleet gives them a floor general who can cross his teammates open and rip pull-up threes. Toronto goes to overlook him.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE through Getty Images
San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets, Dec. 28
The final time Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson confronted off, the NBA stopped for a thrilling preseason showcase between the highest draft prospects. Wembanyama would go No. 1 total to the San Antonio Spurs, while Henderson would be the new face of the Portland Trail Blazers after changing into the third general choose. The two gamers couldn’t look more completely different — Wembanyama is a traditionally tall, long, and thin center, whereas Henderson is a jacked 6’2 guard — and that makes the matchup much more fun. Can Wemby contain Scoot when he switches out on the perimeter. Can Henderson beat Victor at the rim when he attacks the basket? Wembanyama’s French team vs. Henderson’s G League Ignite group was really one of the most enjoyable made-for-TV matchups in current reminiscence, and their pro debut must be just as captivating.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat, Oct. 30
The Miami Heat’s surprising run to the 2023 NBA Finals began with an upset nobody noticed coming. The No. 8 seed Heat defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks within the first round of the playoffs to set the stage for one of many great Cinderella runs in league historical past. The Bucks are again and anticipated to be a championship contender with new head coach Adrian Griffin, whereas Miami returns most of last year’s core whereas ready to see if they will land Lillard. Whether Dame is in Miami black and red or not, the Bucks will want to show they’re the team to beat within the East, and that final season’s series loss was an aberration.
Photo by David Dow/NBAE by way of Getty Images
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics, Feb. 4
Marcus Smart seemed destined to spend his complete career with the Celtics. Instead, the franchise traded him as a half of a three-team deal that landed Kristaps Porzingis in Boston and Smart in Memphis. Smart’s return to Boston will characteristic so many feelings on each side. The Boston fans liked Smart for his hustle, toughness, and talent to make winning plays. Smart will need nothing greater than to stick it to the franchise that traded him. You know Smart will save up some special flops for this matchup. We can’t wait to see it.
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Oct. 31
It’s virtually exhausting to keep in mind that the Cavaliers gained 51 games last season as one of many NBA’s youngest groups after their humiliating playoff debate against the Knicks. Cleveland entered the series with homecourt advantage, but was shortly dismissed in five games as New York seemed greater, stronger, and extra organized. The Cavs dream of creating an enormous run with Donovan Mitchell leading the greatest way this season, however they must prove they can get previous their Knicks demons first. Cleveland added some shooters over the offseason in Max Strus and Georges Niang, however New York won’t be scared after the way they dismantled them within the first spherical.
Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times through Getty Images
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, Dec. 22
The Warriors opened their championship protection final yr with Draymond Green knocking out Jordan Poole at apply. It was largely all downhill from there, with the Warriors by no means really discovering their footing all season before being eradicated in the second spherical by the Lakers. Poole was traded to the Washington Wizards over the offseason, while Green signed a lucrative multi-year extension. You know both players are going to be able to go for his or her first matchup as opponents. Will Poole try to isolate on Green on the perimeter? Will Green try to impose his physicality on his youthful teammate? The trash discuss potential right here is thru the roof.
Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics, Jan 13
Ime Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2022. Months later, he was banished from the staff for having an intimate relationship with a co-worker. After a yr away, Udoka has landed with the Houston Rockets, where he’s tasked with helping a younger group go from rebuilding to competing for a playoff spot. With questions still circling around younger Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, this primary matchup will be a fascinating contrast in coaching kinds and approaches.