The NBA regular season is just around the corner and everyone is excited to see their favorite teams back in action, as every year the offseason brings change and no team is exactly the same from one season to the next because there will be talented rookies, free agents and trades. The first week of the season in full of must-watch games so here's a list of the opening matches that you can't miss.
Tuesday, October 16
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
The new season starts with a rematch from last year's Eastern Conference semifinals but there will be some differences, as Gordon Hayward will have his first official game since last year's season opener in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving (+1000 to win the NBA MVP award at Jazz Sports) will also come back after missing the playoffs but that isn't necessarily good because there will be some rust after being out for a significant period of time. However, seeing a fully healthy Celtics team going up against a hungry, angry 76ers team will be incredible. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons want to make a statement at home by beating a feared Celtics team so I really can't think of a better game to start the season.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors
There's really no need to hype this game, Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook is always entertaining and it will also be interesting to see if the Thunder are better off without Carmelo Anthony and with Dennis Schroder backing up Westbrook. Schroder averaged a career-high 19.4 points to go along with 6.2 assists in 67 games with the Hawks last season and since he'll come off the bench for the Thunder he could potentially be a sixth man of the year candidate. The talent level that will be on display here is second-to-none so this should be a really exciting game.
Wednesday, October 17
Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns
On paper these two teams won't go far this season and this isn't really a marquee matchup but this will be the first meeting between two of the top rookies this year. Devin Booker will miss the start of the season for the Suns so all eyes will be on Deandre Ayton, the top pick in the NBA Draft and Luka Doncic, who averaged 14.5 points for Real Madrid last season and was named EuroLeague MVP.
Ayton, who averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds for Arizona last season, is favored to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award at +250 and is considered a potential next coming of Shaquille O’Neal but experts seem to like Doncic (+300 to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award at Jazz Sports) more because he's more battle-tested.
Friday, October 19
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
This could be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview, both teams are loaded with talent and seeing Kyrie Irving take on Kawhi Leonard was always an intriguing matchups because Irving is arguably one of the best scorers in the league while Leonard is one of the best defenders, if not the best defender in the NBA. Leonard played just nine games last season so fans all over the world are really looking forward to seeing him back on the court and he has a lot to prove.
Saturday, October 20
Houston Rockets vs. Los Angles Lakers
LeBron James will clash with the team he had been linked to so much before choosing to join the Lakers. Not only that, but playing against his close friends Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony under the bright lights of Los Angeles will be extremely intriguing. James, who many consider the best player in the league, will also go head-to-head with reigning NBA MVP James Harden, who wants to prove he belongs among the elite players in the NBA.
LeBron James and James Harden were the two top choices for MVP last year and they will be right up there this season. James (+275 to win the NBA MVP award at Jazz Sports) ranked third with 27.5 points per game while Harden led the league with 30.4 points per game and these are two teams that could meet in the playoffs so this has all the makings of a classic.