It was only some months in the past that the Denver Nuggets claimed their first championship in franchise historical past as famous person middle Nikola Jokic formally stamped himself as the very best basketball participant on the earth. Since then, the NBA has seen a staggering Bradley Beal commerce to the Phoenix Suns, the arrival of Victor Wembanyama because the No. 1 general draft decide, and revamped rosters across the league following free company.
A brand new NBA season formally begins in mid Oct., and now we all know the schedule for each staff within the upcoming 2023-2024 season.
The 82-game common season is a marathon for everybody concerned, however sure matchups are extra compelling than others. Right here’s a have a look at the eight spiciest video games on the brand new NBA slate, with a deal with star gamers visiting their former groups, matchups between high draft picks, and groups at present concerned in commerce rumors that also haven’t been accomplished.
Portland Path Blazers vs. Miami Warmth, Feb. 27, TNT
The most important ongoing storyline within the NBA is Damian Lillard’s commerce demand. The long-time Path Blazers famous person informed his staff he solely desires to play for the Miami Warmth, however thus far the 2 sides have but to work out a deal. Whether or not Lillard will get traded to Miami or stays with Portland, this sport goes to be must-see TV with the entire world figuring out the place Dame actually desires to be. Nobody expects Lillard to carry out or tank his personal play if he doesn’t get his want earlier than the season, however it is going to be fascinating to see how Lillard handles all the eye of this matchup whatever the end result of his commerce demand.
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 anticipated VanVleet to return to the Raptors as he hit free company this summer time, however as an alternative the veteran level guard took an enormous bag to signal with the Houston Rockets. VanVleet’s three-year, $130 million contract was arguably probably the most gorgeous transfer of the offseason, each when it comes to the worth tag and the affect for a rising younger staff in Houston. The Rockets badly wanted improved level guard play this season, and VanVleet offers them a ground common who can move his teammates open and rip pull-up threes. Toronto goes to overlook him.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets, Dec. 28
The final time Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson confronted off, the NBA stopped for an exhilarating preseason showcase between the highest draft prospects. Wembanyama would go No. 1 general to the San Antonio Spurs, whereas Henderson would be the new face of the Portland Path Blazers after changing into the third general decide. The 2 gamers couldn’t look extra totally different — Wembanyama is a traditionally tall, lengthy, and skinny middle, whereas Henderson is a jacked 6’2 guard — and that makes the matchup much more enjoyable. Can Wemby comprise Scoot when he switches out on the perimeter. Can Henderson beat Victor on the rim when he assaults the basket? Wembanyama’s French staff vs. Henderson’s G League Ignite staff was actually one of the enjoyable made-for-TV matchups in latest reminiscence, and their professional debut must be simply as charming.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Warmth, Oct. 30
The Miami Warmth’s stunning run to the 2023 NBA Finals began with an upset nobody noticed coming. The No. 8 seed Warmth defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks within the first spherical of the playoffs to set the stage for one of many nice 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 final yr’s core whereas ready to see if they will land Lillard. Whether or not Dame is in Miami black and purple or not, the Bucks will wish to show they’re the staff to beat within the East, and that final season’s collection loss was an aberration.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics, Feb. 4
Marcus Good appeared destined to spend his complete profession with the Celtics. As an alternative, the franchise traded him as a part of a three-team deal that landed Kristaps Porzingis in Boston and Good in Memphis. Good’s return to Boston will characteristic so many feelings on each side. The Boston followers beloved Good for his hustle, toughness, and skill to make successful performs. Good will need nothing greater than to stay it to the franchise that traded him. Good will save up some particular flops for this matchup. We are able to’t wait to see it.
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Oct. 31
It’s virtually laborious to do not forget that the Cavaliers gained 51 video games final season as one of many NBA’s youngest groups after their humiliating playoff debate in opposition to the Knicks. Cleveland entered the collection with homecourt benefit, however was shortly dismissed in 5 video games as New York regarded greater, stronger, and extra organized. The Cavs dream of constructing a giant run with Donovan Mitchell main the way in which this season, however they must show they will get previous their Knicks demons first. Cleveland added some shooters over the offseason in Max Strus and Georges Niang, however New York gained’t be scared after the way in which they dismantled them within the first spherical.
Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, Dec. 22
The Warriors opened their championship protection final yr with Draymond Inexperienced knocking out Jordan Poole at follow. It was principally all downhill from there, with the Warriors by no means actually discovering their footing all season earlier than being eradicated within the second spherical by the Lakers. Poole was traded to the Washington Wizards over the offseason, whereas Inexperienced signed a profitable multi-year extension. each gamers are going to be able to go for his or her first matchup as opponents. Will Poole attempt to isolate on Inexperienced on the perimeter? Will Inexperienced attempt to impose his physicality on his youthful teammate? The trash speak 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, the place he’s tasked with serving to a younger staff go from rebuilding to competing for a playoff spot. With questions nonetheless circling round younger Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, this primary matchup will probably be a captivating distinction in teaching kinds and approaches.