Must-see NBA games on the 2019-20 regular season schedule
With the schedules released, we now know where all those new faces in new places around the NBA will be welcomed by their new fans, and perhaps more importantly, we know where they'll likely not exactly be embraced when they return to face their old fans.
From the Battle of L.A. taking on a whole new meaning with the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the Clippers and Anthony Davis joining LeBron James with the Lakers, to Russell Westbrook returning to Oklahoma City as a Houston Rocket, the intriguing matchups abound.
Chris Forsberg goes around the league and picks out eight can't miss games this season.
LAKERS vs. CLIPPERS
OCTOBER 22, 10:30 p.m. ET
We don’t have to wait long for a battle of Los Angeles supremacy. The NBA has graced us with an opening-night showdown between two of the biggest winners of the NBA offseason. The Kawhi Leonard/Paul George combo — assuming George is healthy enough to start the season -- gets to make its regular-season debut against the new LeBron James/Anthony Davis super duo. What better way to tip off the season? Oh, and we get a rematch on Christmas Day and George should be 100 percent by then. Schedule makers, you spoiled us with this particular matchup.
BUCKS vs. SIXERS
DECEMBER 25, 2:30 p.m. ET
Sorry, Celtics fans. Maybe things will break your way — Gordon Hayward gets back to All-Star form, or Jayson Tatum becomes a legitimate star — but for now the top tier of the East seems to be occupied by two teams: The Bucks and 76ers. We’ll find out early on whether Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. are ready to keep building off last season (despite losing Malcolm Brogdon), and whether the addition of Al Horford truly pushes the Sixers into the stratosphere of legitimate title contenders.
ROCKETS vs. WARRIORS
NOVEMBER 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
OK, the Warriors aren’t quite the Warriors without a healthy Klay Thompson and with the departure of Kevin Durant. But they still own real estate in Houston’s head and we’re intrigued to see if the offseason addition of Russell Westbrook can help the Rockets get over that hump. The Rockets rolled the dice by moving Paul when they might have otherwise had a chemistry edge over the rest of a new-look West but their ceiling with Westbrook is undeniably higher if all works out.
CLIPPERS at RAPTORS
DECEMBER 11, 7:00 p.m. ET
Usually when a big-name free agent spurns his old team to sign elsewhere, the first game back is all about bloodlust and anger. But Kawhi Leonard’s first trip back to Toronto will be fascinating because the fans there are going to shower him with love after he delivered a title last season. Then again, Canadians are so nice they would have probably cheered him even if he didn’t deliver a ring.
LAKERS at PELICANS
NOVEMBER 27, 8:30 p.m. ET
The Anthony Davis situation got ugly in New Orleans last year, culminating with his ill-advised decision to wear a “That’s All Folks!” T-shirt to the team’s final home game. Fans are going to take out some pent up anger when the Lakers visit for the first time. Maybe the team will celebrate the good times with Davis and he’ll get a little love, too, but the focus is going to be on how angry people are that he forced his way out of town. What would make this game even better is if the Pelicans show early on they can be competitive in a rigid West and show that they’re going to be just fine in the post-AD era.
KNICKS vs. NETS
OCTOBER 25, 7:30 p.m. ET
Even though Kevin Durant won’t be out on the floor this season, it’s still going to be hilarious to watch Knicks fans grit their teeth knowing what could have been if Kyrie and KD had chosen the other New York squad. The Knicks can unleash their frustrations while rooting on their new-look team of 17 power forwards on overpaid, short-term contracts.
JAZZ vs. NUGGETS
JANUARY 30, 10:30 p.m. ET
The Nuggets already asserted themselves as one of the best young teams in the NBA last season. The Jazz made the sort of moves this summer that could position them to be in the mix for a top seed in the West. While all the focus is on the super duos in LA and Houston, we’re intrigued to see the first meeting of these two teams, who might just be floating quietly below the radar.
THUNDER vs. JAZZ
OCTOBER 23, 8:00 p.m. ET
Chris Paul remains a bit of a hero in Oklahoma City, where the Pelicans played a year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But, if he’s not moved before opening night, it will be fascinating to watch how long it takes for Paul to start daydreaming of a new home. Maybe the Thunder can be competitive but the West is tough and Paul might yearn for his own relocation.