Now that the full NBA schedule has been released, here’s a brief rundown of some dates to pin on your calendar and why.
In compiling this list, I’m looking at both interesting games and events that should fall around those games. Here are some key dates to note, or put in your phone, or whatever it is you do with them.
Cavaliers at Bulls: Anytime the Bulls and Cavaliers square off, it’s much-watch TV, but this year even more so. With the Bulls trotting out their new offense under coach Fred Hoiberg, this game should be doubly interesting. This will very much be a test of whether the Bulls are contenders or pretenders this year.
Pelicans at Warriors: Alvin Gentry vs. Steve Kerr. Anthony Davis vs. Stephen Curry. Woot!!! I can’t wait. That’s going to be a good time. And the pace! We’re gonna see some treads run off some shoes in that one. Opening night will be fun!
Timberwolves at Lakers: Stop laughing!!! This is real. In addition to this being the first chance to see No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns take the court for the first time as an NBA player, Kevin Garnett will move into sole possession of fifth place all-time in games played when the Wolves tip off. In the unlikely event he plays 81, he’d pass John Stockton for third.
Garnett can also become the all-time leader in defensive rebounds with just 89 more, something he should accomplish by the end of November.
Heat at Cavaliers: This one is always about LeBron going back to his old team. For the first time, it could actually be a meaningful game between two contenders.
Also, this one could be eventful because of a milestone, the first of many for LeBron James this year. He needs just 87 points to reach 25,000 for his career. At that time, he’ll join Kobe Bryant, John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson as the only players in history with that many points, 6,000 dimes and 6,000 boards.
If he scores his career average of 2,076, he’ll move into 10th all-time, ahead of Hakeem Olajuwon, who has 26,946. James is only 20th, at this moment, though, so look for him to be climbing over people all year.
Clippers at Mavericks: The first time the Los Angeles Clippers go to Dallas, things are going to be interesting. If it were possible to throw emoticons at a player, I’m sure it would happen. Whatever happens, the Dallas fans are going to be eager for their first chance to greet DeAndre Jordan.
Spurs at Trail Blazers: It’s always fascinating when an old hero returns home for the first time. Will Portland cheer or boo LaMarcus Aldridge in his first return to the Moda Center?
Pelicans at Thunder: Kevin Durant vs. Davis will be fun. Need I say more?
Hawks at Cavaliers: Let’s show Atlanta a little respect here. This is the first rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Will the Hawks keep last year’s magic going? This could be a great test for them.
Magic at Jazz: This one should be enjoyable if you like watching teams on the rise. The East’s best breakout candidate vs. the West’s best breakout candidate should be pure entertainment.
Pelicans at Bulls: Anytime Anthony Davis comes to his hometown, Chicagoans love it.
Clippers at Rockets: This will be the first time the teams meet since the Clippers melted down as the Rockets launched in last year’s conference semis. James Harden has more help with Ty Lawson at the point now. But Josh Smith will be feeding DeAndre Jordan dunks instead of Dwight Howard. This will be a fun game to watch.
Pelicans at Heat: This has the potential to be a great matchup, depending on if New Orleans and Miami meet expectations. Get your presents opened early.
Bulls at Thunder: The last time Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook squared off was Dec. 6, 2010. Pray for knees all the way around. Also, if they’re healthy, you may have to watch portions in slow motion to see what happened.
Warriors at Cavaliers: Championship rematch? Thanks, Santa Silver!!!
Spurs at Rockets: Next up is the in-state rivalry between two contenders? Score!
Clippers vs. Lakers: It’s been a long day. Feel free to turn off the TV and skip the bloodbath.
New Year’s Day
76ers at Lakers: You won’t miss any football!
Kings at Mavericks: I’m actually mildly intrigued to see what happens when Rajon Rondo goes back to Dallas. Just because…everything.
Cavaliers at Spurs: Tim Duncan and James have squared off in the Finals thrice already. This very much has the potential to be a preview of the fourth.
Raptors vs. Magic: More worth taking note of because of where it is than who’s playing. The teams will square off in London, England. As a result, the league will be broadcasting this game in English.
Thunder at Warriors: The first time that the last two winners of the MVP, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry respectively, will play. Thunder fans hope Durant won’t experience the agony of de-feet. I’ll show my way out.
All-Star Game and corresponding festivities. Toronto will be hosting this year’s games.
Spurs at Lakers: Hopefully, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan will be able to give us one more battle for the ages. Easily, the two greatest players of their generation (counting LeBron as the next) this might be the last time these two grizzled veterans battle.
Jazz at Pelicans: These are the two young teams on the rise in the West. This is a game that could be previewing a second-round postseason series in a year or two. And watching Anthony Davis go against the Rudy Gobert will be a thrill.
Warriors at Spurs: Believe it or not, this is only the second time the projected Western Conference Finalists are going to compete. And this could have some serious seeding implications — potentially even home-court advantage — on the line.
Nets at Cavaliers, Magic at Pacers, Bulls at Rockets, Clippers at Thunder: Traditionally, Thursday nights featured only two or three games, but there’s a veritable feast on this one. It’s Thanksgiving in March!
Four games between potential playoff teams out of nowhere. This just seemed random and weird, so I looked at some other Thursday schedules, and most of them have multiple games. Looks like the NBA has taken a more “flex game” approach to national games. But that’s just my speculation.
Bulls at Pelicans: Last year, when the Bulls came calling on the Big Easy, the Brow got injured during the second quarter and the rest of the game was an unsightly horror show. There were metaphorical feathers on the court when the Bulls left town. This time, with seeding on the line for both squads, the Pelicans will be looking to exact revenge.
Grizzlies at Warriors: This is the last game of the season, and what a way to close it out with two heavyweights going at it. Hopefully, it’ll matter to both teams and everyone plays.