The 2016-17 schedule is out! What games are each team circling on the calendar this season? We’ve got the must-watch matchups for all 30 NBA clubs.
Oct. 27: Hawks vs. Wizards
Dwight Howard plays as a Hawk for the first time in front of his hometown fans at Philips Arena. The Atlanta native described joining the Hawks as “a new beginning” and added the faith the team showed in him has restored his “belief that I’m still the player” who was selected to eight All-Star Games and won three successive NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards.
Jan. 13: Celtics at Hawks
After signing a four-year, $113 million contract with the Celtics this summer, Horford returns to an Atlanta for the first time. The Hawks are also the team that ousted the Celtics from the postseason last year.
Oct 26: Nets at Celtics
The Nets open up against the Celtics in Boston. It will officially be Kenny Atkinson’s head-coaching debut and Jeremy Lin’s first game as a Net. Brooklyn will also get a chance to see Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Nets owed that pick to the Celtics as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade. Boston still has the rights to swap firsts with Brooklyn in 2017 and owns the Nets’ unprotected first in 2018.
Oct 26: Hornets at Bucks
Coming off their most successful season under coach Steve Clifford, the Hornets will be looking to continue their ascent up the Eastern Conference when they begin their season against the Bucks. Although they lost forward Al Jefferson and point guard Jeremy Lin during free agency, Clifford’s squad has high expectations to compete in the Eastern Conference this season.
Oct. 27: Bulls vs. Celtics
Dwyane Wade’s first regular-season appearance with the Bulls will give fans something to cheer about on opening night as second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg shows off his new-look team. Rondo also gets a chance to make a good first impression in Chicago facing off against the team he helped win a title for in 2008.
Oct. 25: Cavaliers vs. Knicks
The Cavs will host Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the Knicks on a night the city of Cleveland has been waiting 52 years for: ring night celebrating the first pro sports championship for the city in more than half a century. As for those rings, a team source described a prototype version of the jewelry to ESPN.com as “ridiculous.”
Oct. 26: Mavericks at Pacers
The Mavericks open the season against the Pacers. While the Mavericks added several pieces this offseason, one thing remains the same: Dirk Nowitzki begins his 19th season in Dallas.
Oct. 26: Nuggets at Pelicans
The season opener will give Denver fans their first chance to see the No. 7 overall draft pick, Jamal Murray, in an official NBA game. The 6-foot-4 Kentucky product impressed during summer league play in Las Vegas.
Oct. 26: Pistons at Raptors
After returning to the playoffs last season for the first time under Stan Van Gundy, the season opener against the Toronto Raptors marks the beginning of a season of high optimism in Detroit for the team.
Nov. 23: Warriors vs. Thunder
In last year’s backloaded schedule, the Warriors went all the way to February 6 before finally facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. This season’s Thunder faceoff happens three months sooner, on November 3 in Oakland. We will, however, have to wait all the way to February 11 this season for Durant’s return to Oklahoma City. In general, though, fans won’t need to be patient for highly-hyped Warriors affairs. Six of Golden State’s first 12 games are on national TV.
Feb 2: Rockets vs. Hawks
The Rockets will play former center Dwight Howard twice with his new team, the Atlanta Hawks. Houston visits Atlanta on Nov. 5, as part of a four-games-in-nine-days road trip. Howard makes his return to Houston in February. The ending for Howard wasn’t pleasant. He wasn’t a bad guy and should be cheered by Rockets fans when he returns to the Toyota Center.
Oct. 26: Pacers vs. Mavericks
The new-look Pacers begin their season against the Dallas Mavericks. This will be the first time Pacers fans get to see the team’s new starting lineup with Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young.
Oct. 27: Clippers at Trail Blazers
The Clippers enter the season as a title contender but with plenty of questions that need answering including Blake Griffin’s long-term future. If the Clippers remain healthy — a big if — Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Griffin have enough to bring that elusive title to the Clippers. It’s hard to figure out why the Clippers have such bad luck, but injuries to Paul and Griffin doomed them earlier this year in the playoffs against the Trail Blazers, who dug out of a 2-0 hole by winning four straight. If their team is healthy, Clippers fans will get to see what could have been.
Dec. 16: Lakers at Sixers
The first of two matchups between 76ers rookie and 2016 top draft pick Ben Simmons and Lakers rookie and No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram should have plenty of intrigue. Assuming they stay healthy, they will have had nearly half the season to adjust to the league, so it should be a thrilling showdown of the league’s top young talent.
Nov. 18: Grizzlies at Mavericks
This game marks Chandler Parsons’ first game back at the American Airlines Arena, where he averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists during his two-year stint in Dallas. Parsons signed a four-year max contract worth around $94.8 million with Memphis earlier this summer.
Nov. 4: Heat at Raptors
This is the first meeting between the teams that slugged it out during a brutal seven-game playoff series that propelled Toronto to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history and dropped Miami into a roster overhaul.
Nov. 19: Bucks vs. Warriors
The Bucks held the title of being the first team to defeat the Warriors last season after they exploded to a 24-0 start. Now what will happen with Kevin Durant in the picture?
Dec. 13: Timberwolves at Bulls
This game marks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s return to the Windy City, where he coached the Bulls for five seasons and was named the 2011 NBA Coach of the Year.
Dec. 2: Pelicans vs. Clippers
Chris Paul makes the first of his annual trips back to New Orleans, which always gets the nostalgic heart strings a-tuggin’. It has been a lifetime in NBA years (five in human years) since Paul suited up for the home team, but the scar tissue still shows from time to time, including during their most recent meeting in March, before which Paul jokingly asked the PA announcer why he hadn’t alerted the crowd that they were “Live at the Hive.”
Oct. 25: Knicks at Cavaliers
Rose, Anthony, Porzingis and the rest of the Knicks will be tested early on. They’ll face a raucous crowd in Cleveland celebrating its first pro championship since 1964. LeBron James and the Cavs will likely get their championship rings that night and raise a banner at the Q. Not an easy atmosphere for a team with several new players and a tough test for new coach Jeff Hornacek.
Nov. 11: Thunder vs. Clippers
Thunder versus Clippers always has been an intriguing matchup with hefty, physical frontlines battling inside. But this one will carry a new narrative: The first attempt at recruiting native son Blake Griffin. Griffin always has been met with a tepid reception in Oklahoma, but with buzz building about a likely pursuit of Griffin next summer in free agency, Thunder fans likely will turn that meh welcome into something a bit more substantial
Nov. 14: Magic at Pacers
Frank Vogel returns to a place where he went 250-181 as coach, including two Eastern Conference finals appearances. But his tenure ended with a first-round loss last season.
Oct. 26: 76ers vs. Thunder
The season opener is significant not only because the world is waiting to see No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons play an NBA game, but also because it will also mark the long-awaited debuts of 2014 draft picks Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. And it will happen against Russell Westbrook & Co.
Oct. 30: Suns vs. Warriors
What fan doesn’t want to see what the young Suns can do against Golden State? Booker isn’t a star yet, but after averaging 13.1 points on the way to All-Rookie honors in 2015, it’s a good test to see how far he’s come and how far he still has to go.
Dec. 23: Blazers vs. Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge returns to the Moda Center for the first time in the 2016-17 season. The Spurs big man averaged 17 points and six rebounds per game against his former team last season.
Dec. 16: Kings at Grizzlies
New head coach Dave Joerger will face his former team for the first time. Joerger was with the Grizzlies the past three seasons and put up a 246-147 record.
Oct. 29: Spurs vs. Pelicans
The Spurs play their home opener on Oct. 29 against the New Orleans Pelicans, and everyone in attendance no doubt will experience somewhat of a surreal feeling given that Duncan will not be taking the court with his teammates. Considering Duncan has been the heart and soul of the Spurs since 1997, it’s going to be interesting to see how coach Gregg Popovich and the rest of the club handles this matchup, which also features three-time All-Star Anthony Davis.
Oct. 28: Raptors vs. Cavaliers
An early rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals, a 4-2 Cleveland win, is a chance for the Raptors to measure themselves against the LeBron James led NBA champs. All roads go through Cleveland in the East and James and Kyrie Irving, but the Raptors have their own superstars to match in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
Nov. 1: Jazz at Spurs
Boris Diaw returns to the Alamo City for the first time in of the 2016-17 season. The veteran forward was a big factor in the Spurs’ 2014-15 championship run. Diaw averaged 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game during his five-year stint with San Antonio.
Nov. 30: Wizards at Thunder
This will be head coach Scott Brooks’ first trip to Oklahoma City since he was fired after the 2015 season. Brooks led the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals.