Finally! We know the schedules of all 30 teams for the 74th NBA season, and there are plenty of storylines to follow. From the return of Russell Westbrook to the debut of Zion Williamson, here are the top 10 games that you must tune into this season.
10. Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors; March 16th, 2020
A rematch of the NBA Finals is always going to be a must watch game, despite Kawhi not playing in this one. Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D'Angelo Russell will visit Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry in the "six" in what will be a highly anticipated rematch of the Finals that destroyed the Warriors dynasty. The Raptor faithful will be out in full force when the Warriors come to town, making this one a must watch.
9. Denver Nuggets at Portland Trailblazers; October 23rd, 2019
Following the epic seven game Western Conference Semifinals, which included a 4OT thriller, the two teams will open the season facing each other once again. Nikola Jokic is coming off a season where he appeared on the All-NBA First Team, while Dame Lillard is riding an All-NBA Second Team appearance in addition to a trip to the Western Conference Finals. With the Trail Blazers ending Denver’s 2018-19 campaign, this one is sure to live up to the hype.
8. Golden State Warriors at Brooklyn Nets; February 5th, 2020
There are multiple storylines to follow in this one, but none more noticeable than D’Angelo Russell’s return to Brooklyn. After an All-Star appearance and a trip to the playoffs, Russell was included in a sign and trade the brought former Warrior Kevin Durant to Brooklyn. Before free agency began on June 30th, Russell expressed his desire to return to Brooklyn and grow his legacy there, however, that wasn’t in Sean Marks’ plan, as the Nets went in a different direction. D’Angelo Russell is primed to put on a show in this revenge game, making it number eight on this list.
7. Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans; November 27th, 2019
Returning players is going to be a common theme on this list, and for good reason. This NBA offseason featured an incredible amount of All-Star players on the move, and perhaps the biggest player moved was Anthony Davis. After spending his first seven NBA seasons in New Orleans, AD was traded (at his request) to the Lakers. What makes this game so intriguing is how Davis left things with the Pelicans, basically sitting out the second half of the season. Now, he returns to the place where it began for him, with LeBron James by his side.
6. Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder; December 22nd, 2019
Spoiler: This is not the first time the Thunder will be on the list for a returning player. It shocked the NBA world when the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard and followed up by immediately trading for MVP candidate Paul George. As disappointing as the ending was for George’s stay in Oklahoma City, he still put up MVP type numbers in the regular season, and was even awarded ‘Paul George Day’ on July 7th, 2018. Now, George returns to Oklahoma with Kawhi Leonard by his side, facing former Clipper Chris Paul.
5. Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Lakers; March 6th, 2020
Perhaps the only storyline here is that arguably the two best players in the NBA will be facing off, but that’s enough to make this one a must watch. With Kevin Durant out for the season, LeBron needs to have a rival this season, and why not make it the 2019 MVP. This game could very well be a preview for the 2020 Finals, and the battle for the best player in basketball. No matter who you side with in the best player debate, this game is sure to be exciting action for all four quarters.
4. Los Angeles Clippers at Philadelphia 76ers; February 11th, 2020
Does this one need an explanation? ‘Doink’ ‘Doink’ ‘Swish’ is all I need to say. After Kawhi hit one of the craziest shots in NBA history to send Joel Embiid and the Sixers home, Kawhi carried the momentum from that shot all the way to a championship. Now, Kawhi travels to Philadelphia with his ring, and that shot buried deep into the brains of the 76ers and their fans.
3. Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder; January 9th, 2020
The only reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because the Thunder aren’t exactly going to be the most exciting team in the NBA. The big story in this game is obviously the return of Russell Westbrook to OKC, in addition to Chris Paul facing his former team. Russell Westbrook was traded to the Rockets, leaving behind an MVP, a trip to the Finals, three consecutive triple-double seasons and eight All-Star appearances. Unlike Durant’s return to Oklahoma, Westbrook is expected to receive a warm welcome back home, and the raw emotion of this matchup lands it on the list.
2. New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors; October 22nd, 2019
It’s fitting that the first game of the NBA season features the debut of Zion Williamson. The most hyped up prospect since LeBron James, Zion will make his first career start for the Pelicans in Toronto on national TV. As for the Raptors, the team will raise their first championship banner in franchise history. Even without Kawhi, the debut of Zion is must watch TV.
1. Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers; October 22nd, 2019/Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers; December 25th, 2019
Without a doubt, the two L.A. teams created the most highly anticipated rivalry in basketball this season. The Clippers and Lakers created the era of super duos in the NBA, by pairing LeBron with Anthony Davis on the Lakers, and Paul George with Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers. Not only do the two play in the same city, but they share the Staples Center, adding an extra element to the battle of L.A.. The two teams will face off on opening night and on Christmas day, and with four MVP candidates facing off, these games are absolutely must see television.