The 2022-23 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday (which part hasn’t already been released, anyway), and naturally, we’re all running around looking at the matchups that have been released. Here are 10 to mark on your calendar for the first six weeks.
Opening night. LeBron James will watch Stephen Curry receive his fourth championship ring, matching his own total. The race to No. 5 is on, and Curry, head of another title-content list, is on top of getting it. If the Lakers have Kyrie Irving at this point, this is a Curry vs. James will be a headline matchup for reasons other than that. With a revamped Lakers roster and a Kyrie-LeBron reunion, it will all be championship contenders.
It’s the opener for both teams and it’s a must-see for a few reasons. Perhaps, Zion Williamson will mark her return to the court. Same goes for Ben Simmons. Also, the Pelicans are one of the teams in the mix to trade for Kevin Durant. Can you imagine if that trade fell through at this point and Durant opened the season in Brooklyn against the Nets? If not, and Durant and Kyrie Irving are active for the Nets, this will be our first look at the Durant-Irving-Simmons trio’s on-court dynamic.
You can bet the Suns, who sent Phoenix packing in a 33-point rout in the Conference 7 semifinals last season, have unfinished business with Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. Turns out, Phoenix was dealing with a covid outbreak. Chris Paul will play to win even in October. Luca is must-see TV. This will be a war.
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. If Leonard is still a superstar, the Clippers enter this season as a top-tier title contender. This is our first chance to see how long it will take him to get back to this type of condition after missing last season rehabbing a torn ACL.
If you haven’t heard, Rudy Gobert now plays for Minnesota, one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. Who knew Donovan Mitchell would still be in a Jazz uniform? If he is, you can bet he and Gobert want to get the best out of each other.
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6. Nuggets at Warriors (October 21)
This isn’t Denver’s opener (against the Jazz), but the Warriors are so this is a good time for Jamaal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to return. Like any other team this season. This is a legitimate championship contender. Nikola Jokic has a case for the league’s best player, and having Murray back with him would be a great addition to an elite duo.
The Sixers had a great offseason with the additions of PJ Tucker and DeAnthony Melton, but this is all about James Harden and whether last season’s slump is the beginning of the end or a blip of a year. The Sixers bet big money ($68.8 million over two years) that he’s still pretty damn elite. This is a pair of teams that have every chance of winning the title. Individually, Giannis vs. Embiid is never a bad matchup to clear the calendar.
The Bowl. Lonzo will be back for the Bulls and LaMelo is coming off an All-Star head start. Both of these teams are a fun watch, and it’s worth devoting some time to the two brothers feuding. You can really see them looking out for each other.
Trae Young at Madison Square Garden. Just say it. The Hawks made a big trade this summer by acquiring Dejounte Murray and this will be a preview of how he and Young will mesh, and as a nice bonus, the Knicks could get Donovan Mitchell at this point. After Young led the Knicks to the 2021 playoffs, he returned to MSG last season and dropped 45 points. The man knows how to hold attention.
10. Nets at 76ers (Nov. 22)
Let’s all pray to the basketball gods that Ben Simmons is back in Philadelphia. If it is, it will be a bonkers atmosphere. Will Siemens succumb to the heat or turn it into fuel? This hardly even qualifies as a basketball game. It feels more like a reality show.