Ten Games to Look Forward to in the 2017-18 NBA Season

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With the 2017-18 season schedule dropping on Monday, the return of the NBA is fast approaching. And, thanks to a tumultuous offseason, the schedule is seemingly jam packed with can’t-miss games, debuts, returns, star-vs-star matchups and fights for conference positioning alike.

Here are 10 of the most exciting games to keep an eye out for next season.

October 17: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA season opens with a matchup of the two heavyweights in the Eastern Conference. Boston and Cleveland squared off four times last season, with LeBron James leading the charge and Cleveland coming out the victor in three of those four games. However, the addition of Gordon Hayward to the duo of Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, coupled with the continued dysfunction within Cleveland’s own ranks, should prove highly beneficial to Brad Stevens’ squad. Expect the new season’s first game to be a fun one.

October 17: Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors

Also on Opening Night, the matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors features the two best offenses in the Association. Between Mike D’Antoni and Steve Kerr’s respective squads, there’s enough three-point shooting to overwhelm even the toughest competition. With the addition of Chris Paul to a contingent that already includes James Harden, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, both teams will battle for Western Conference supremacy — making the opener just the first of many high-paced, high-scoring affairs between these squads this season.

October 19: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

While the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers might not be the most interesting draw on paper, the debut of Lonzo Ball is. The rookie point guard lit up the Summer League — in both his stats and the television ratings — and will surely be a must-see game for casual and hardcore fans alike. A glimpse of the new-look Clippers in the post-Chris Paul era should be interesting as well.

October 20: Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks

A matchup between two of the NBA’s most athletically gifted players should be must-watch television, no? The Milwaukee Bucks are a team on the rise thanks to budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who fits perfectly into the do-it-all player mold that James has crafted since entering the Association in 2001, and should be one of the better teams in the East next season. The one-on-one duels between Antetokounmpo and James would suffice, but this game, along with their subsequent matchups, should prove some of the more entertaining battles throughout the entire season.

November 2: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs made a statement about what they could really do during the first half of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, holding the Warriors 42 points and racing out to a 20 point lead. Any chance of taking Game 1 — let alone the series — was derailed, however, thanks to an injury to Spurs’ star forward Kawhi Leonard early in the third quarter. Now fully healthy, expect Leonard and the Spurs to give it their all in an attempt to unseat the Warriors.

December 13: Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers

Paul George’s move to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the less-than-stellar return of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis was one of the most surprising moves of the offseason. His return to the Indiana Pacers’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse may not have the warmest welcome, however, after George declared that he had no intentions of playing for the Pacers beyond this season and instead expressed his desire to play for his hometown Lakers. While the state of the relationship between the fan base and George will be the subject of conversation, the Thunder will hope they play well enough to keep George from jumping ship next offseason.

December 25: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors

For the third year in a row, the Cavaliers and Warriors will square off on Christmas Day. Everyone already knows how good the Warriors are and another year together should make Steve Kerr’s squad even better. And, while they may have their problems, the Cavaliers are still one of the best teams in the league thanks to the omnipresence that is James. A James-Kevin Durant matchup should make what was already shaping up to great game an incredible one to watch as well.

December 25: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics

One of the more recent rivalries to sprout up in the NBA, the Celtics will host the Washington Wizards on Christmas Day. Boston and Washington had one of the more entertaining series’ of the entire postseason and that bad blood is sure to resurface on Christmas. Marcus Morris joining the Celtics during the offseason adds a wrinkle to this matchup as well as he’ll be playing against his brother, Wizards forward Markieff Morris.

March 28: Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz

Gordon Hayward’s return to the Utah Jazz should be an interesting one. The poor handling of his free agency decision coupled with the tension between himself and former Jazz teammates such as Rudy Gobert will likely make the return quite awkward for Hayward. Jazz fans certainly won’t be happy with him, with Hayward’s back-and-forth during the decision-making process likely being more aggravating than the decision itself. And the Jazz are still a talented, young team, so expect the fans and players alike to feel vindicated if they manage to pull out the win.

April 1: Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

With both squads likely to be duking it out for the West’s second seed, this late season game between the Rockets and Spurs could have a major effect on the final regular season standings. While it won’t be their first matchup, it will likely be the most important for both teams as they head down the final stretch into the postseason. At this point in the season, should the Harden-Paul duo prove fruitful for the Rockets, expect the combination of talent and potential effect on the postseason to make this one of the better games of the year.