The 2022-23 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday (which part wasn’t previously disclosed, anyway), and naturally, we’re all going through it, circling the games that stand out. Here are 10 to mark on your calendar in the first six weeks.
Opening night. LeBron James will see Stephen Curry receive his fourth championship ring, matching his own total. The race for No. 5 is on and Curry, in charge of another slate of titles, has the upper hand to get it. If the Lakers have Kyrie Irving at this point, it becomes a showpiece game for reasons other than Curry vs. James; it will be two championship contenders facing off with all the intrigue of a revamped Lakers roster and Kyrie-LeBron reunion.
The fly-half for both teams, and he’s a staple for a handful of reasons. Presumably, this will mark Zion Williamson’s return to the field. Same for Ben Simmons. Additionally, the Pelicans are one of the teams that would be in the mix to trade for Kevin Durant. Can you imagine if that trade has gone down at this point and Durant opens the season versus the nets in Brooklyn? Otherwise, and Durant and Kyrie Irving are active for the Nets, this will be our first look at the on-court dynamics of the Durant-Irving-Simmons trio.
You can bet the Suns have unfinished business with Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, who sent Phoenix packing with a 33-point overkill in Game 7 of the conference semifinals last season. Turns out Phoenix was dealing with a COVID outbreak. Chris Paul plays to win even in October. Luka is must-have television. It will be a battle.
4. Clippers at Lakers (October 20)
Another chance to see what this Lakers roster looks like, but more importantly, it should be the return of Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers enter this season as a next-level title contender if Leonard is still an elite superstar. This is our first chance to see how long his return to such status will last after missing all of last season rehabilitating a torn ACL.
If you haven’t heard, Rudy Gobert now plays for Minnesota, which is becoming one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. Who knows if Donovan Mitchell will still wear a Jazz uniform? If he is, you can bet he and Gobert will want to get the best out of each other.
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6. Nuggets at Warriors (October 21)
It’s not Denver’s opener (which is against the Jazz), but it’s the Warriors, so it’s a great time to tune in to the return of Jamal Murray and potentially Michael Porter Jr. Personally, I’m also excited to watch the Nuggets. this season like any team. He is a legitimate championship contender. Nikola Jokic has a case as the league’s best player, and putting Murray back at his side brings together an elite duo that’s very fun to watch.
The Sixers have had a great offseason with the additions of PJ Tucker and De’Anthony Melton, but it’s all about James Harden and whether his decline last season was the beginning of the end or a year-long failure. The Sixers bet big money ($68.8 million over two years) that he’s still pretty darn elite. It’s a pair of teams that have their sights set on winning a title. Individually, Giannis vs. Embiid is never a bad game to clear the schedule.
The ball bowl. Lonzo returns for the Bulls and LaMelo is coming off an All-Star nod. These two teams are a fun watch, and the two brothers battling it out are worth setting aside time for. You will definitely see them protecting each other.
Trae Young at Madison Square Garden. Enough said. The Hawks made a big trade by acquiring Dejounte Murray this summer and it will be a first look at how he and Young fit together, and as a potential bonus, the Knicks could have Donovan Mitchell at this point. After Young gutted the Knicks in the 2021 playoffs, he returned to MSG last season and had 45 points. The man knows how to seize the limelight.
10. Nets at 76ers (November 22)
Pray to all the basketball gods that Ben Simmons will be on the court for the Nets in what would be his return to Philadelphia. If he is, it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere. Will Simmons wilt in the heat or turn it into fuel? It wouldn’t even be considered a basketball game. It will be more like a reality show.