The NBA released its full schedule Thursday, giving Brooklyn fans a first look at the Nets' full 2023-24 slate. Brooklyn is entering its first full season of a new era following the midseason trades of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last year.
Here are five games Nets fans should have circled on their calendars.
Fri, Oct. 27 @Dallas:
The NBA wasted no time revisiting the drama of Brooklyn's tumultuous last four seasons. The Nets will face off with Kyrie Irving and the Mavericks in Dallas for their second game of the year.
Irving's off-court theatrics were at the center of Brooklyn's dysfunction for the majority of his time alongside Kevin Durant. His rocky tenure culminated with a bombshell trade request at last year's deadline following a franchise-record 18-2 stretch that vaulted the Nets up the Eastern Conference standings. After signing a three-year, $120 million contract this offseason, the eight-time All-Star will get his first shot at revenge against his former team before what should be a raucous crowd at Dallas' home opener.
Wed, Dec. 13 @Phoenix:
If you were looking for an early-season game filled with storylines, this should be near the top of the list. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, aka “The Twins,” became fan favorites during three-plus seasons with the Suns. Both should receive a warm reception from Phoenix fans when they return to the Footprint Center.
On the other side, Durant will get his first crack at Brooklyn after forcing his way out at last year's deadline. The former MVP was having among the best seasons of his career last year before an MCL sprain sidelined him for over a month, ending his Nets tenure. After trading nearly every pick the CBA would allow them to for Bradley Beal this offseason, Phoenix is redefining the term “All-in.”
How will the new-look Nets fare against one of the NBA's top contenders and their former franchise player in a hyped matchup?
Fri, Dec. 22 vs. Denver:
Nikola Jokic and the defending champs make their way to Brooklyn for a Friday night matchup. Denver lost just seven home games last season, the fewest in the NBA. The new-look Nets accounted for one of those during a 122-120 thriller on Mar. 12.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn and Brooklyn will face a tough test early on before what should be a sellout crowd.
Wed, Jan 31. vs. Phoenix:
This is one of two matchups all Nets fans have been waiting for since the team's implosion last season. Durant returns to Brooklyn following a dramatic exit that saw him make two trade requests in six months.
While he was undoubtedly the most talented player ever to don a Nets uniform, Durant's Brooklyn tenure will be remembered for its dysfunction. His time with the team saw just one playoff series win and a litany of off-court issues that watered down the on-court product. Will that reality outweigh his historic production and impact his reception from Brooklyn fans?
Durant's return will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Tues, Feb 6. vs. Dallas:
Two of the most anticipated returns in franchise history will come within a week when Irving follows Durant to Barclays Center for a nationally televised TNT matchup. Irving's historic unreliability will be the legacy of his Nets tenure. The New Jersey native played in just 143 of 299 (48 percent) regular season games during three and a half seasons in Brooklyn. Most of those absences were a product of headling-inducing off-court decisions as opposed to injuries.
Nets fans did not hesitate to express their displeasure with Irving after the disappointing 2022-23 campaign. They'll have a chance to air their grievances directly to their former point guard one year after his trade request led to the once-promising team's dismantling.
Sat, Feb 10. vs. San Antonio
Brooklyn fans get their first look at the most hyped prospect since LeBron James when Victor Wembanyama makes his way to Barclays Center. At 7-foot-4 with an eight-foot wingspan, the French phenom's ball handling, shooting, passing and shot-blocking dazzled fans in France and at NBA Summer League in the past year.
Wembanyama should be no stranger to sellout crowds throughout his rookie season. Expect this Saturday matchup to be one of them during one of his two trips to the Big Apple in 2023-24.