Every year, people complain about the NBA season being too long and that they league should reduce the 82-game schedule. As a result, commissioner Adam Silver finally made a change to the NBA schedule.
No, we still have an 82-game schedule, but hey, at least we have a brand-new In-Season Tournament!
That's pretty exciting, right?
With just under two months until the start of the 2023-24 season, the NBA has released their full schedule for who will be playing who when. Unlike the NFL, where there can be surprises with the schedule since all the teams do not play one another every year, the NBA schedule is pretty straight-forward with all 30 teams playing each other at least two times during the course of the season. There really weren't any surprises this year either, as all of the marquee matchups and top games were leaked ahead of time (thank Shams for that one).
The defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets will be in action, along with the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns on October 24, the league's opening night. Each roster highlighted by All-Star talents, you will not want to miss either of the two games that begin the new season.
Then the In-Season Tournament will begin with group play games in November, followed by the five-game Christmas Day slate at the end of December. Don't worry, Christmas is still on Dec. 25 in case you were wondering! NBA Rivals week will take place the final week of January, highlighting some of the league's bitter rivalries, and then the home-stretch of games begins throughout February and into March, as teams will look to make their final playoff pushes in a season that could wind up being the most competitive we have seen in quite some time.
Take a moment, breathe, and get your calendar out though, as we are not done quite yet.
Each team plays 82 regular games from October into April so how could I possibly rank them all you ask? Well, I didn't, I just grabbed the 10 games I am most looking forward to and threw them in a list for you below. From intriguing matchups to heated rivalries to players making their return against a former team, here are the 10 must-watch games on the 2023-24 NBA schedule.
10. Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs – Oct. 25
Have you heard of that guy Victor Wembanyama? Of course you have, we only see his face and hear his name every few minutes when talking about the upcoming NBA season!
Wembanyama is about to change the trajectory of the San Antonio Spurs for many years to come and he will play his very first NBA game at home against the Spurs' in-state rivals. Luka Doncic, another international superstar, will take the Dallas Mavericks to San Antonio to open up the new season on October 25.
Aside from seeing what Wemby and the new-look Spurs can do, we will get a glimpse of the potential this year's Mavs squad has. Missing the playoffs a season ago, the Mavericks have a lot to prove and their new additions in Grant Williams, Seth Curry, Richaun Holmes and Derrick Jones Jr. provide extra depth this squad did not necessarily have a season ago.
Dallas is looking to prove themselves and Wembanyama is making his debut. This matchup is going to be a fun one to watch and as they say: “Everything is bigger in Texas!”
9. Washington Wizards at Golden State Warriors – Dec. 22
Look, I know the Washington Wizards are not going to be anything special this upcoming year, but Jordan Poole is probably going to average 40 shot attempts per game for them and he will make his grand return to Chase Center in December to take on the Golden State Warriors for the very first time.
Aside from the theatrics the Warriors will have with his tribute video and round of applause before the game, the main event in this game will be Draymond Green barking at Poole. Who knows if these two even like one another anymore and out of all the games on this year's schedule, this is the one that could easily have a fight break out.
Green got the first punch on Poole in the preseason last year and now Poole may look to return the favor in his first game against his former club. I am not condoning teams fighting on the court, but if NBA fans want to see an altercation break out, they want to see it when the Wizards play the Warriors this season.
8. Miami Heat at Boston Celtics – Oct. 27
It seems like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics are playing one another in the Eastern Conference Finals every single year. They have faced off against one another with a ticket to the NBA Finals on the line in three of the last four seasons and when you look at the Eastern Conference Finals since 2010, at least one of these teams has been there in 10 of the last 14 seasons.
The Heat-Celtics rivalry has definitely grown through the years and it would not be a shock to see them face off once again in the postseason. Jimmy Butler has proven that he can take his team to the Finals and who knows, maybe he will have a new superstar to play alongside of in Damian Lillard by the time this game rolls around.
For the Celtics, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum remain the focal points on this roster, as Kristaps Porzingis now joins the mix in attempts of winning the franchise's 18th title. Two historic franchise and a handful of All-Star players. That is what you get when Miami and Boston clash.
7. Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets – Feb. 29
Hey what do you know, 2024 is going to be a leap year! Instead of 365 days in the year, there will be 366 days next year and on at least one of them, the Heat will go back to Denver to try and get revenge on the Nuggets for their NBA Finals defeat. This is the first time these two teams will face off against one another since the Nuggets won their first title and even though that was a five-game series, it was a pretty thrilling matchup.
The Heat were in almost every game they played against the Nuggets in the NBA Finals last season and Denver has the best player in the world right now in Nikola Jokic. Possibly add Damian Lillard to the mix and this is suddenly a game that could hint at a possible rematch in the championship series.
This season is going to be a critical one of the Heat, regardless if Lillard is on their roster. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus both left in free agency and Miami's depth is highly questionable right now. When they play teams like the Nuggets, we will get a glimpse as to if the Heat still have what it takes to be considered championship contenders.
6. Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers – Nov. 1
The “Battle for L.A.” has been extremely lopsided in recent years. In fact, the Los Angeles Clippers have won of their last 36 of their last 43 regular season games against the Lakers, including 11 straight since the start of the 2020-21 season.
At some point, the Lakers are going to break their cold streak against their in-arena rivals and it could very much happen during the 2023-24 season, as both teams will enter the year with high title aspirations.
Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook are still running the show for the Clippers and who knows, maybe James Harden will be joining them at some point during the season. On the opposite side, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Austin Reaves highlight what is a revamped Lakers roster with Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish joining the rotations.
The Lakers are looking for their 18th title, which would be a new NBA record, while the Clippers are just looking to get to the NBA Finals for the first time! The four games these teams play will be must-see television, starting with the first game on November 1.
5. Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors – Jan. 27
LeBron James versus the Golden State Warriors has been a rivalry for the last decade in the NBA. The Warriors have gotten the best of LeBron in the Finals, but it was the Lakers getting the last laugh a season ago when they ousted the defending champs from the playoffs.
Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter to ever live and LeBron cemented his legacy as the greatest scorer in NBA history last season. Who knows how much longer we will get to see these two legends take the court against one another, so we might as well cherish it now.
Oh, and these two teams will not meet until closer to the trade deadline after 2024 begins, so we will truly get to see what they are made of during the back-half of the new season.
4. Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors – Oct. 24
Like the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns are going to be a team the Warriors will need to get past if they are to win another title. This will not be an easy task though, as the Suns upgraded their roster in the offseason.
By trading Chris Paul, who is now with the Warriors, the Suns were able to land All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. Alongside Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, Phoenix now has arguably the best scoring trio in the league. It is not crazy to believe that these three players can average over 100 points per game during the regular season combined, but do they have the depth to win a championship?
This game on October 24 will be a part of the leagues opening night festivities and it will also mark the first time Durant plays on the road against the Warriors in front of fans since he left in 2019. We have Durant being welcomed back by the Warriors' faithful and Paul getting a shot at his old team in his first game with his new team.
Sign me up for this one!
3. Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns – Dec. 25
There really aren't that many rivalries in the NBA right now like there were in the 1980s and 1990s. Looking at these time periods, there were legitimate fights breaking out on the court, plus teams and players alike simply hated one another. In today's NBA, the league doesn't tolerate any of this behavior and everyone seems to get along for the most part.
Well, Luka Doncic and Devin Booker simply do not like each other, which makes the Mavericks taking on the Suns the league's newest must-see rivalry. When these two teams play, it almost has an old-school type of feel to it because of how physical things get.
We are guaranteed almost one technical foul being called every time Dallas plays Phoenix and if you are a betting person, the odds for Doncic or Booker getting T'd up are probably in your favor!
Oh, and how dare I not mention Durant facing off against Kyrie Irving? This game has everything a basketball fan should want and hopefully we get to see them battle it out in the postseason yet again.
2. Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets – Oct. 24
You can't begin the new NBA season without a ring presentation! The Nuggets will be celebrating their championship on opening night and what better team to do it against than the Los Angeles Lakers, the team Denver beat in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are also the team who has continued to talk about the Nuggets after they were beaten in the playoffs and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has since been dubbed the Lakers “daddy.”
Like the Suns-Mavs rivalry, the Lakers versus the Nuggets just seems like a matchup in which we are getting two teams that do not like each other and are reaching a certain boiling point. Jokic is going to be starting his quest for a third MVP award, while LeBron enters Year 21 in the league.
This is a historic matchup for many reasons and there will be plenty of headlines coming out of this first game of the season for both the winner and loser.
1. Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors – Oct. 27
Say what you want about any other game(s) on this upcoming season's schedule, but for me, the one matchup I do not want to miss whatsoever is the Sacramento Kings versus the Golden State Warriors.
These two teams put on an absolute show in a seven-game first-round playoff series and the narratives these two organizations share are eerily similar. Obviously you have Mike Brown as the head coach of the Kings after he spent years as the assistant of the Warriors, but Sacramento just resembles what the Warriors were during their Finals run in 2015.
A young team that plays with a lot of energy and can get scoring production from anywhere on their roster, the Kings proved last year that they have what it takes to hang with the Warriors, the team everyone has been trying to catch over the last decade.
Throw in the fact that Kings and Warriors fans hate one another, plus the drama from Draymond Green stomping on Domantas Sabonis' chest in the playoffs, and we got ourselves the best regular season series in the league.
Sign me up for every single game these two teams play against one another and hopefully, we will get to see them fight in the playoffs yet again. Doing so with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line in the Western Conference Finals would be a dream come true for basketball fans.