The 2022-23 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday (what portion of it wasn’t previously leaked, anyway), and naturally, we’re all running through it circling the matchups that stick out. Here are 10 to mark on your calendar through the first six weeks.
Opening night. LeBron James will watch Stephen Curry receive his fourth championship ring, matching his own total. The race to No. 5 is on, and Curry, in charge of another title-contenting roster, has the upper hand at getting it. If the Lakers have Kyrie Irving by this point, this becomes a headline matchup for reasons other than Curry vs. James; this will be two championship contenders squaring off with all the intrigue of a revamped Lakers roster and the Kyrie-LeBron reunion.
The opener for both teams, and it’s a must-watch for a handful of reasons. Presumably, it will mark Zion Williamson’s return to the court. Same for Ben Simmons. Also, the Pelicans are one of the teams believed to be in the mix to trade for Kevin Durant. Can you imagine if that trade has gone down by this point and Durant opens the season against the Nets in Brooklyn? If not, and Durant and Kyrie Irving are active for the Nets, this will be our first look at the on-court dynamic of the Durant-Irving-Simmons trio.
You can bet the Suns have some unfinished business with Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, who sent Phoenix packing with a 33-point bludgeoning in Game 7 of the conference semifinals last season. It turns out, Phoenix was dealing with a COVID outbreak. Chris Paul plays to win even in October. Luka is must-see TV. This will be a battle.
4. Clippers at Lakers (October 20)
Another chance to see whatever this Lakers roster looks like, but more importantly it should be the return of Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers enter this season as an upper-tier title contender if Leonard is still an elite superstar. This is our first chance to see how lengthy his return to such status will be after missing all of last season rehabbing a torn ACL.
If you haven’t heard, Rudy Gobert now plays for Minnesota, which becomes one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. Who knows if Donovan Mitchell will still be in a Jazz uniform? If he is, you can bet that he and Gobert will want to get the best of one another.