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Ten NBA must-watch games this season

Aug 6, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Game Four Getty Images

The NBA schedule is out and it’s a little like Christmas Day (unless you’re a beat reporter, then it’s explain to your wife how much you’ll be gone day, which is a lot less fun). Today is the day you can really start to taste the matchups that are coming.

There are more good storylines than there are A-Rod suspension days in the new schedule, but here are the 10 must-watch games that leapt off the page at me. No, Brandon Jennings return to Milwaukee somehow did not make the cut. Sorry.

Oct. 29, Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat: Opening night’s marquee game, when the Chicago Bulls get to watch the Miami Heat get their rings and raise a banner, then Chicago will unleash a returned Derrick Rose on them. You know, the Rose who think’s he’s the best player in the NBA. Anyway…. we get two elite teams in the East to start the season and that works for me.

The second half of the televised double-header that night has the Clippers at the Lakers, which could see Kobe’s return from an Achilles rupture. (Also, Orlando visits Indiana that night… which isn’t exactly going on the marquee.)

Dec. 4, Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City: Los Spurs head to the capital of Mexico, but more than just some impressive establishing shots, is this could be a really fun game. Ricky Rubio vs. Tony Parker. Kevin Love vs. Tim Duncan. They NBA isn’t sending a clunker south of the border.

Dec. 18, Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat: These two teams went seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Since then the Heat added Greg Oden to deal with the size of Roy Hibbert (we’ll see if Oden is available and playing by this date). The Pacers got a lot deeper in this offseason and it starts with getting Danny Granger back. This could well be an Eastern Conference Finals preview again.

Dec. 25 (Christmas Day), Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks: Plenty of interesting Christmas Day games, but this one may be the most entertaining — Kevin Durant vs. Carmelo Anthony, the two guys likely to be battling for the league scoring title. That game could get hijacked by Russell Westbrook and J.R. Smith, and I’m okay with that shootout.

Dec. 25, Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors: Sure, why not two Christmas Day games, that’s when much of the nation starts focusing on the NBA anyway. After the guests have gone and the kids have passed out clutching their new baseball glove/Barbie/PSP Go grab a beverage, settle down on the couch and get ready for Chris Paul vs. Stephen Curry. These teams are going to be two of the best offenses in the NBA this season, and while in the big picture it is defense that will decide how far they go, on this night a fun shootout would work just fine.

(The other Christmas Day games are the Bulls at Nets, Heat at Lakers, and Rockets at Spurs. The nightcaps could be the best games of the day.)

Jan. 20, Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors: The Martin Luther King Day slate for the NBA is good — including the Nets traveling to play the Knicks, and Knicks fans hate the Nets and how they are challenging them in the East — but at the end of the day is this sneaky fun game of matchups: Can Andrew Bogut stay on the court and keep Roy Hibbert and the size of the Pacers in check? Can the Pacers defense slow down Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala? This will be a good test of styles.

Jan. 26 (2014), San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat: An NBA Finals rematch, and if it is played anywhere near the same high level or is as entertaining as the big games in that series, we all win.

Jan. 26, Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are still loved in Boston, and this is their homecoming. There will be a standing ovation, video tributes and tears shed. This is going to be emotional.

Feb. 19, Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers: No fanbase believes in their manifest destiny more than the Lakers fans — years of stars eagerly coming there and a whole lot of titles have them believing that championships are their birthright. Then Dwight Howard reluctantly comes to Los Angeles for a season, plays well below his standards, then bolts for the Rockets. This is Howard’s homecoming game in Los Angeles and you can be sure the fans there will show him the “love.”

Feb. 20, Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant… who doesn’t want to see the worlds two best players go head-to-head?

  1. scorp16 - Aug 6, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    Really? Rockets v Thunder didn’t make the list?

    But the Pacers vs Golden State did? Really?

  2. lew24 - Aug 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Kobe will find a way to win that game in Feb! The Lakers usually don’t lose “Homecoming” games. They might lose 50 games this year but I’m sure they won’t lose to Dwight Coward at home!

    • dls612 - Aug 6, 2013 at 8:09 PM

      When Howard return to L.A the fans booing him will rank up there when LeBron returned to Cleveland. It’s going to be awesome!!

      • scorp16 - Aug 6, 2013 at 8:50 PM

        Nicholson may “moon” him

      • antistratfordian - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:21 AM

        “When Howard return to L.A the fans booing him will rank up there when LeBron returned to Cleveland.”

        It won’t be quite that intense, friend. Nothing short of a game 7 on the road vs a hated rival could match that.

      • 00maltliquor - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:36 AM

        @ dls612

        Not even close bro.

        But really what I would love to see Laker fans do is not even acknowledge him at all, if he was some type of scrub. THAT would be funny/awesome/epic/hilarious.

    • 8to80texansblog - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:16 PM

      What’s so weird to me is that Lakers fans have turned on this aggressive hate towards Howard for leaving when they didn’t really like him to begin with.

      Its the spoiled little kid syndrome that even though you didn’t want it, you’re upset that you can;t have it.

  3. legend30 - Aug 6, 2013 at 8:27 PM

    Lakers fans shouldn’t boo at Dwight. I mean Lakers fans keep on saying they will have better team chemistry without him, so why boo at a player that makes your team better?

    • antistratfordian - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:23 AM

      They were also saying, “I hope he does leave” even before the season ended… so I don’t know why they’d boo him now.

  4. money2long - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    over or under 32 minutes for derrick rose’s first regular season game ?

    maybe you work guys coming off injury and missing significant game time in slow to start the season, but thibs is the coach so ….

    thumb up for over . thumb down for under. im curious

    • legend30 - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:10 PM

      Up.

      Thibs always makes his starters play a lot of minutes. He doesn’t use his bench, and its one of the reasons why the Bulls won’t beat the Heat or Pacers in the playoffs. By the time it’s the playoffs their players are gonna be exhausted.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:41 AM

      Thibbs uses his bench as much as I do playing 2K against a worthy adversary. Rose over 32.

      33:42 to be exact! lol

  5. 1972wasalongtimeago - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    The Heat play 82 must see games. Once in a lifetime team.

    • joeyemcleod - Aug 6, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      About 7 or 8 teams are more fun too watch then the Miami Lebron’s

    • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:14 AM

      Haha, can’t go wrong with the Miami Heat! I’ve always been a huge LeBron fan and have watched ~200 Miami regular season games over the last 3 seasons. I’m not saying I regret it, but this year I want to make myself watch the rest of the NBA more.

      The Nets could be really good with that roster flexibility. The Spurs won me over in the 2013 playoffs; they’re superbly coached and experienced. The Warriors are really fun to watch and Iggy’s presence means they must be taken seriously. There’s lots of good basketball to watch… but man is it hard to turn away from LeBron on any given night.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:27 AM

      “The Heat play 82 must see games.”

      This is kind of true. Look at what they did last year against Cleveland. The Heat have the personnel for the potential to do something incredible in just about every game.

  6. brugis23 - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    One. Lakers. Game. Hahaaa! Sweet! And only because of drama.

  7. cmart0907 - Aug 6, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Joakim Noah will ruin the ceremony lol he hate the heat. Congrats on your 2nd ring LeBron.

  8. asublimeday - Aug 6, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    The Heat play 82 must see games. Once in a lifetime team.
    —-

    You realize we all lived through the Jordan era, correct?

    I assume you’re just trolling.

    • 8to80texansblog - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Yeah 96 Bulls were easily the best team ever…. I’ve never seen a team completely dominate like that all season long. They beat the next team in the division by 20 games and Indiana was still a 52 Win team….

  9. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:27 AM

    The San Antonio Spurs have become must-watch TV. I have unfairly discriminated against them for years now because their previous 4 Finals appearances were all so boring. But the 2013 NBA Finals were the best I’ve ever seen (been watching since 1996) and I finally came to respect the Spurs.

    Popovich expects so much of his players but it’s always obvious that he loves them. And Pop’s interviews are now eagerly anticipated by viewers. Duncan is just a professional machine and somehow turned in one of his better seasons last year. Parker will send you into a rage if you’re rooting against him; it doesn’t make sense how he lives in the paint. Kawhi Leonard seems to have six arms and is becoming a star. And Manu… well his best days are past but I enjoyed his throwback performance in Game 5 of the finals.

    • antistratfordian - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:34 AM

      And Manu can still execute a pass that makes Magic Johnson do a double take. But I agree with everything you said here about the Spurs except for the “must-watch TV” part. They still lack a certain sizzle.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 7, 2013 at 3:45 AM

      I 100% agree and co-sign with everything you just said. Me too.

    • spursareold - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      Their offense has been “must see” for three or four years now. The last two years have seen a re-dedication to team defense, though, and it’s resulted in trips to the WCFs and The Finals. No one is picking them to return this year, but I think they will. OKC now has essentially nothing to show for the Harden trade that will help them this year.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:37 PM

        I hope you are right. I was pulling hard for the Heat, but by the end of the Finals I felt terrible for the Spurs. Duncan is still killing himself for missing that “bunny” and Manu seemed to be coming apart at the seems over his disappointing play.

        I wish now I had followed the Spurs closer because I barely noticed when they became an offensive machine. Did Popovich just suddenly figure it out or did he have to sacrifice defense to achieve the scoring increase? All I know is the Spurs pass the rock before you can even blink. It’s the way offense should be played; find a matchup or play you like, execute it and make a decision to shoot or pass quickly. If the Heat played like that they would be untouchable. Anyway… maybe the Spurs can get back. Kawhi will probably reach star level.

  10. unfly - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:54 AM

    Kurt Helin with another backhanded dig at Laker fans – not sure how their expectations for their team is relevant to a regular season game just because Dwight is in it.

    • Kurt Helin - Aug 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      I don’t think that was backhanded, that was a pretty direct dig.

  11. northstarnic - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:14 AM

    Meh

  12. tcclark - Aug 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Really? No Sixers vs Bobcats? Who wants to watch the Heat or the Lakers?

  13. evanem19 - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    As a Blazers fan, I am interested to see Greg Oden’s return to PDX. It is in late December, so who know if he will even be playing by then. But That game should be interesting.

  14. heatdchamps - Aug 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    Derrick Rose will walk on the court and step on a skittle that will shatter his knee and will be out for 3 seasons. FACT

  15. heatdchamps - Aug 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Derrick Rose, then Derrick fell.
    Derrick whined, and Derrick yelled.
    All the Bulls roster, and all Chicago men,
    couldn’t get Derrick to suit up again.

  16. jcmeyer10 - Aug 7, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    I cannot wait until the Nets at Celtics. Got my tickets already and am going to bring a tissue or two for sure.

  17. jabronikid - Aug 7, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Andrew Bynum if healthy and the Cavs visiting Kobe if healthy and the Lakers may also be interesting

  18. jimeejohnson - Aug 7, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Those late season Knicks-Nets games could be must-watch, too.

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