The 2019-20 NBA schedule was revealed Monday, with plenty of great matchups throughout the year. Here are the games I’m most excited about.
The 2019-20 NBA schedule was released on Monday afternoon. 1,230 regular season games were revealed, making the 170-day marathon tangible and putting official dates on some of the league’s most anticipated matchups.
With this season’s slate laid out, here are the handful of games I’m most looking forward to watching this year. There are some reunion/revenge games, a few major tests for the most anticipated prospects, and even several good, old-fashioned battles between the NBA’s elite teams.
Does my list match any games on your list. What other dates will you be circling on your calendar? Let me know in the comments!
Oct. 23: Bulls vs. Hornets
I have been a Chicago Bulls fan for all of my basketball-watching life. So, for better or worse, I will be drawn to their season opener at the Charlotte Hornets. This team doesn’t project to be playoff-ready just yet, so their first game could very well be the peak of optimism for their 2019-20 campaign.
How will Coby White perform in his debut? Can Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkanen, and Zach LaVine pick up where they left off last season? Everyone’s undefeated on opening night, and our first regular season look at Bulls basketball could give us an idea of where things are heading.
Oct. 23: Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers
My coverage of the Portland Trail Blazers for Hoops Habit over the past few seasons helped me develop an affinity for them. As a Bulls fan, it was refreshing to actually see a team with a solid culture and a sensible front office. It was also nice to see that rewarded with an extended playoff run.
Their semifinals matchup against the Denver Nuggets was one of the most epic series I’ve witnessed. I fully expect that energy to carry over into the 2019-20 regular season, especially in their first meeting. Both teams enter the year with formidable rosters and will be competing for the top spot in the Northwest Division and playoff seeding in the tough Western Conference.
In the age of heavy player movement, team rivalries are hard to come by. However, Blazers-Nuggets is pretty close to being one. Each game will likely be hard-fought, so it should be fun to tune in every time.
Nov. 14: Mavericks vs. Knicks
This game will be Kristaps Porzingis‘s first chance to make his former team pay for giving up on him so soon in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd. The Knicks dealt the Latvian away at the end of January, and are seeking to begin a new era with RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, and Mitchell Robinson at the helm.
While I do enjoy a number of New York’s young players, I still feel Porzingis would be justified if he still harbors any hard feelings against the Knicks. Hopefully, the 7’3″ floor spacer will be healthy enough to wreak havoc and exhibit the skills that made him so exciting over his first two-and-a-half years in the league. Having dynamic sophomore playmaker Luka Doncic by his side should help him get the job done.
Nov. 27: Lakers vs. Pelicans
I’m excited for this game because I want to see how the New Orleans Pelicans perform in a game where they have quite a bit to prove. This will be the first matchup between power forwards Zion Williamson — the future of New Orleans — and Anthony Davis — their former superstar that they moved on from. Will the rookie be able to contain his predecessor?
Additionally, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram are three former Los Angeles Lakers that were traded to the Crescent City in exchange for Davis. Will these three successfully show their old team what they have been missing?
Either way, fans at the Smoothie King Center will have their chance to show The Brow how they truly feel in his first game back in the Big Easy.
Jan. 9: Rockets vs. Thunder
While the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets will face off at Toyota Center on Oct. 28, their Jan. 9 meeting will be Russell Westbrook‘s first game back in OKC. It will be intriguing to see how Mr. Triple Double performs on the court where he dominated for 11 years.
It will also be interesting to see how both teams will be meshing by the time this matchup rolls around. Are Russ and James Harden getting along? Will the Thunder still be a competitive team with Chris Paul now running point? Hopefully, the answers will unfold in an entertaining matter.
Mar. 6: Raptors vs. Warriors
The NBA Finals rematch will always draw eyeballs. However, this meeting will take on a slightly different flavor, as both teams have endured some major changes this summer.
Notably, the Toronto Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers. The star that led the franchise to their first title is gone just as soon as he arrived.
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant in free agency to the Brooklyn Nets and will be without Klay Thompson for a while as he recovers from his ACL tear. They will also be hosting this game in their brand new arena in downtown San Francisco.
So many questions will be on the table when these teams meet. How has Toronto fared without Kawhi as the centerpiece? Will Pascal Siakam still be on his ascent to NBA stardom? Has D’Angelo Russell meshed well in the Bay? Will the Warriors be holding up okay without their two elite wing scorers and vaunted veteran bench?
Finals reunions are always fun, but this game will have a lot more layers to it than your run-of-the-mill rematch.
Clash of the Conference Titans
Oct. 22: Lakers vs. Clippers
Nov. 6: Bucks vs. Clippers
Dec. 6: Clippers vs. Bucks
Dec. 19: Lakers vs. Bucks
Dec. 25: Bucks vs. 76ers
Dec. 25: Clippers vs. Lakers
Jan. 25: Lakers vs. 76ers
Jan. 28: Clippers vs. Lakers
Feb. 6: 76ers vs. Bucks
Feb. 11: Clippers vs. 76ers
Feb. 22: 76ers vs. Bucks
Mar. 1: 76ers vs. Clippers
Mar. 3: 76ers vs. Lakers
Mar. 6: Bucks vs. Lakers
Mar. 8: Lakers vs. Clippers
Apr. 7: Bucks vs. 76ers
Of course I’m excited about these matchups! It’s always an event to watch the best of the league compete, and any combination of these games could be a conference or NBA finals preview.
Admittedly, the season and playoffs are two different animals. But there are still a number of idiosyncrasies that could pop up during the season that might play a part in the outcome of any postseason rematches. It will fun to seek those out. My biggest hope, ultimately, is that in this era of “load management”, both teams will still deliver on the entertainment value when they link up.
Dec. 12: Mavericks vs. Pistons (Mexico City)
Dec. 14: Spurs vs. Suns (Mexico City)
Jan. 24: Hornets vs. Bucks (Paris)
I’m a sucker for neutral site games in any sports league. They’re a great change of pace from teams’ normal home venues. I also love the international regular season games that the league has put on almost continuously since the 2010-11 season. It’s a great way to grow the game, giving fans outside the US & Canada a taste of the NBA experience.
I will miss the European game being in London, but Mexico City and Paris are great cities with dope arenas. The games they will presented with aren’t exactly marquee matchups, but hopefully they will still be an entertaining product for international fans to enjoy.