One of the most exciting days of the NBA offseason is when the schedule for the upcoming season is released. Today, the league released the complete 2016-17 schedule and basketball fans know that this means the regular season is just around the corner.
There are plenty of games to circle on the calendar. There were many interesting moves this summer, with players changing teams quite frequently. This year’s incoming rookie class will also add some intrigue to the schedule as well. With that being said, here are some of the most anticipated matchups of the season:
Warriors at Thunder – Saturday, February 11:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this game headlines our list. The biggest storyline of the summer was Kevin Durant opting to sign with the Warriors. Durant spent his entire nine-year career with the Thunder organization (previously known as the SuperSonics) up until this point and now wants a change of scenery. We’ve seen in the past how star players like LeBron James, Dwight Howard and others were greeted when they returned to their original team, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Thunder faithful greet Durant.
Warriors’ Opening Game – Tuesday, October 25:
Whether you hate the Warriors or love them, odds are you’ll be tuning in to see the team’s first game with Kevin Durant. The Warriors will have a different look this season, as they roll out a core of Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They boast a ton of star power now and will be the hottest game ticket in town. Twitter will be full of buzz when the Warriors’ season opens up and all eyes will be on them. Many are wondering if the Warriors can somehow improve upon last season’s record-setting year, and that quest will begin on Opening Night.
Warriors at Cavaliers – Christmas Day:
The Warriors and Cavaliers have provided some of the best basketball to watch over the past couple of seasons. Championship rematches are often some of the most anticipated games in any sport, and it’s no different in the NBA. These two teams are beginning to build quite the history against one another and will continue adding to that this season. This year’s Finals series produced some great moments and gave Kyrie Irving a platform to show that he’s capable of hitting some clutch shots. Of course, adding Kevin Durant into the mix will surely spice things up this year.
Bulls at Miami – Thursday, November 10:
Dwyane Wade’s first game back in Miami sets up to be arguably the most anticipated game not involving the Warriors. Wade spent 13 years with the HEAT before signing with the Bulls this summer. It’s been reported since his signing that it got a bit ugly between the HEAT and Wade, which prompted Wade to sign for a bigger contract. It was a shock to everyone, including Gabrielle Union, that Wade left. He is the most important player in HEAT franchise history and should receive a warm welcome when he returns to South Beach. We’ll see.
Knicks at Bulls – Friday, November 4:
Another game that is set to be filled with emotions is when Derrick Rose returns to Chicago. Rose won a Most Valuable Player award with the Bulls, but suffered a ton of injuries during his seven years there that left many wondering what could have been with a healthy Rose. The reaction to Rose being traded to the Knicks has been mixed at best, so it remains to be seen what kind of reception he’ll receive. In addition to Rose returning, it’ll also be Joakim Noah’s first time back in Chicago as well. The relationship between Noah and the team was reportedly fractured toward the end of his tenure there and may lead to a negative fan reaction.
Celtics at Hawks – Friday, January 13:
Next season will be the first in which Al Horford doesn’t suit up in a Hawks jersey. Instead, Horford will don the iconic green and white Celtics jerseys and will return to Atlanta for the first time on January 13. He spent nine seasons with the Hawks and helped them reach the playoffs in each of those nine years. It’s possible Horford will receive a mixed reaction after his father said Celtics fans were a big part of why he chose Boston. The lack of support from Hawks fans played a part in Horford’s decision as well. While this may not be as anticipated as Durant returning to Oklahoma City, it’ll still be interesting to watch.
Timberwolves at Bulls – Tuesday, December 13:
Next season will be head coach Tom Thibodeau’s first season with the Timberwolves. Thibodeau will return to Chicago for the first time as an opposing head coach since he was fired by the Bulls. He figures to receive a warm ovation in Chicago as the team achieved great success under his watch.
76ers’ Opening Game – Wednesday, October 26:
Everyone is curious how Ben Simmons will play in his NBA debut. He’s been talked about as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA for a few years now and will finally have his chance to show what he can do at the highest level. He made some highlight-reel plays in the Las Vegas Summer League and figures to draw some attention for the 76ers this season.
Lakers at 76ers – Friday, December 16:
Going off of Simmons’ first game of the year, the first time Simmons and Brandon Ingram meet as the top two picks in the draft will surely be fun to watch as well. Both teams won’t have high expectations placed on them this season, so this matchup could be one of the highlights of the season for the two squads.
While these games will be very fun to watch, there will also be a number of other contests that we’ll keep an eye on. It’s going to be fun watching Russell Westbrook lead the Oklahoma City Thunder without Kevin Durant. The young core of the Minnesota Timberwolves figures to become a popular team to watch on League Pass as well. The 2016-17 season is just around the corner and figures to be a fun one.
Which game are you most looking forward to watching? Leave a comment below.
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