We have breaking news that the NBA, once again, is having all 30 teams play an 82-game regular-season schedule. Maybe that feels like something obvious, but considering the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, it feels noteworthy to have an 82-game schedule for the second straight year.
The NBA has also fully released that schedule for all to see! We’ve had the reporting from Shams Charania this week letting us know the opening night schedule, in addition to the Christmas slate that everybody loves to analyze in terms of league respect.
Sources: NBA’s 2022-23 Opening Night, Oct. 18 on TNT:
– 76ers at Celtics
– And as previously reported: Lakers at Warriors
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 16, 2022
Sources: NBA’s 2022 Christmas Day schedule:
Bucks at Celtics
76ers at Knicks
Suns at Nuggets
Lakers at Mavericks
Grizzlies at Warriors
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2022
As we break down the slate of games and schedules, we’ll start seeing who gets hit the hardest with back-to-back games and travel miles. We’ll see which teams are featured too much on national television and which teams aren’t getting nearly enough spotlight. In this space, we’ll take a look at some big-time and interesting matchups to circle on the old calendar. (Wait, do people still write on calendars? Do you have one of those whiteboard, dry-erase calendars? Or are you just putting stuff into the calendar on your phone?) Either way, take note of these games!
(Author’s note: Inevitably, I will have left something off this list by the time you read it. Throw the matchups or showdowns you’re looking forward to down in the comments. I promise I left it out because I hate your favorite team. Also, without knowing Kevin Durant’s home this season, it was a little difficult to put any Brooklyn games down.)
(Editor’s Note: All times ET)
The spicy matchups
I’ve often wanted the opening night game to be a rematch of the finals so the loser has to watch the winner receive their rings and banner. Once again, we don’t get that. We have to wait until nearly mid-December for the Warriors and Celtics to face off again, but this has the potential to be a preview of the 2023 finals, as well. The Celtics will want to measure up against the Warriors again and prove their revamped rotation is good enough this time. They’ll also match up again in Boston on Jan. 19.
Last time we saw the Suns and Mavericks square off, Luka Dončić had backed up some serious trash talk. Following the Suns’ Game 6 win, Dončić could be seen saying everybody talks tough when they’re winning. Next thing you knew, the Mavs were up 40 on the Suns’ court in Game 7. Both of these teams had a lot of words to exchange in the playoffs. Devin Booker and Dončić were disrespecting each other left and right. We’re getting this one right away, and every single one of them should be on national television.
Eastern Conference finals rematch — Boston Celtics at Miami Heat, Oct. 21 (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Early on, we get a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals, the scene of the crime for the Celtics and Heat where Jimmy Butler took an ill-advised pull-up 3-pointer in transition to try to bury Boston in the final seconds of Game 7. Instead, he missed, the Celtics rebounded, and they went on to the NBA Finals. The Celtics and Heat always have a nice rivalry going and a healthy disdain for each other. We get it in national-television form on the first Friday of the regular season.
At some point, this Band-Aid has to be ripped off with Simmons playing a game in Philadelphia. The first possible contest for that happens on Nov. 22, with another one possibly Jan. 25. The crowd in Philadelphia will be ruthless. The Nets could potentially be in shambles depending on how this ultimatum by Kevin Durant plays out. We don’t know what to expect with the Kyrie Irving situation, and Daryl Morey has done a good job of making this Sixers team deeper. But Simmons back in Philadelphia for a showdown on the court is still something we’re waiting for.
Western Conference finals rematch — Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks, Nov. 29 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
The Western Conference finals weren’t quite as dramatic as some fans had hoped. The Warriors beat the Mavs in five and could have swept them. The Mavs seemed to just have one bad quarter in the losses to bury them and keep them from putting real pressure on the eventual champs. We’ll get a look at how much that experience galvanizes them to prove their conference finals appearance wasn’t a fluke. Dončić against Steph Curry will always be a great show, plus we get former Warriors fan favorite JaVale McGee now hoping to improve that interior presence for Dallas.
Heat and Bucks rivalry —Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat, Jan. 12 (7;30 p.m.) and 14 (1 p.m., ABC)
Back in 2020, the Heat demolished the Bucks in the playoffs en route to the finals. In the 2021 playoffs, the Bucks embarrassed the Heat on Milwaukee’s path to an NBA championship. We didn’t get these two facing each other in 2022, but the rivalry is definitely there. Giannis Antetokounmpo has dismissed the success of the bubble Heat. Miami believes its way of doing things is the antidote to what Milwaukee likes to do. They’ll have two straight games in mid-January in Miami. It’s fun when these two squads lace them up, especially on a national telecast.
The Grizzlies and Timberwolves played one of the sloppiest playoff series we’ve ever seen. It felt like a calamity ensued for either team quarter to quarter. But there also seemed to be a real distaste for each other by the end of it. With Rudy Gobert in town to help turn the Wolves into much more than they historically have been, the Grizzlies want to prove they’re still the better team. Ja Morant will probably try to dunk on everybody in a Wolves uniform. Anthony Edwards will try to dunk on everybody in a Memphis uniform. It could be a fun rivalry brewing.
MVP race/big man battle — Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers, Jan. 28 (3 p.m., ABC)
Joel Embiid has believed he’s the MVP for the past two seasons. Nikola Jokić has won the MVP award the past two seasons. As Embiid and the 76ers embark on a campaign that they hope nets them both a title and an MVP award for their big man, the Nuggets are trying to show they’re contenders capable of helping out their reigning MVP. Heading to Philly, we know the fans will be insane in how they heckle Jokić and praise Embiid when he’s able to make plays against the Denver star. They also face each other March 27.
Familiar faces in new places
Ben Simmons debut in Brooklyn — New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets, Oct. 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Remember, we still haven’t seen Simmons play a real second of basketball for the Brooklyn Nets. He’ll get that chance in a marquee matchup to tip off the season when the Pelicans come to town. Zion Williamson will be back on the court for the Pelicans as they try to prove they’re one of the new teams to reckon with in the West. As for the Nets, we don’t know what state they’ll be in with all this Durant stuff going on, but at least we’ll see Simmons playing basketball again … we think.
Rudy Gobert returns to Salt Lake City — Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz, Dec. 9 (9 p.m.)
The Utah Jazz will already have played their old friend Gobert in the first week of the season, but that will happen in Minneapolis. Gobert will return to Salt Lake City as a member of the Wolves on Dec. 9. He’ll definitely receive a huge welcome, as he was mostly beloved during his time with the Jazz. The big question is whether or not he’ll be facing off against his old teammate Donovan Mitchell. Will he still be with the Jazz, or will he have been turned into draft picks by then?
We technically saw Wall return to the nation’s capitol back in February 2021 to face off against his old Wizards teammates. However, there weren’t any fans in the arena, and Wall was still a little rusty during his comeback. I don’t think we should really count it. Wall is much healthier now, and him going up against Bradley Beal in front of Wizards fans should be a lot more fun.
I don’t know if anybody thought Brunson was a $100 million man going into last season, but by the time it was over, we knew the Knicks were going to come knocking with that contract. Brunson and his new teammates come to Dallas for a reunion with Brunson’s former teammates. He helped the Mavs get to the conference finals, and he carried the load nicely when Dončić was out. Dallas will be happy to see him and appreciative of his time there, but the Mavs will also want to remind him he shouldn’t have left. These two teams will first match up in New York City on Dec. 3.
Murray spent six years in San Antonio, made the All-Defensive team and also became an All-Star during his time with the Spurs. All of a sudden, he became very available this offseason, and the Hawks jumped at the chance to acquire him for a bunch of draft picks. Murray will be back to say hi to his old team in March, and we’ll get to see a cool embrace between him and Gregg Popovich at some point.
Fun team showdowns for us
The battle for Los Angeles — LA Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 20 (10 p.m., TNT)
Maybe people outside of Los Angeles don’t care about this as much as Angelenos and NBA ratings do, but the Lakers and Clippers were supposed to create a fun, thriving rivalry to battle for West supremacy. Instead, it’s been mostly disappointing due to a bunch of injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting everything. Kawhi Leonard should be healthy for another great showdown with LeBron James. Paul George and Anthony Davis get to continue to prove themselves as second fiddles. And Ty Lue against Darvin Ham for a coaching matchup should be fascinating, too.
Trash talk explosion — Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks, Oct. 22 (8:30 p.m., NBATV)
Dončić talks a ton of trash, and the Mavericks kept getting fined for bench decorum, which led to the entire NBA world finding out you could get fined for bench decorum. The Grizzlies never seem to stop talking trash, even when they’re down in a game. These are also two very fun, successful young teams in the West. The Grizzlies versus the Mavericks could give us content for weeks.
Playoff rematch — Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors, Oct. 26 and 28 (both 7:30 p.m.)
The Raptors flirted with the idea of being the first team to overcome an 0-3 deficit in a postseason series when they pushed the Sixers to a Game 6. The Sixers had a lot of problems at that point, and Embiid eventually broke his face in Game 6 when the game was already out of hand. But the Raptors simply didn’t have enough health and size to take down Philly. This is a fascinating matchup in terms of the versatility of today (Toronto) trying to contain the interior monsters of yesteryear (Embiid as a throwback big man).
Trae Young goes back to Madison Square Garden — Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks, Nov. 2 (7:30 p.m.)
Is the thing between Young and the Knicks fans a little played out at this point? That will probably be determined entirely on how good the Knicks are this season. The Hawks are looking to bounce back after their hiccup last season and their acquisition of Murray this summer. The Knicks are looking to find the magic of the 2020-21 season, especially with Brunson in the mix. Regardless, Knicks fans will boo Young the entire night and say some rude stuff about his hair.
LeBron James at MSG — Los Angeles Lakers at New York Knicks, Jan. 31 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
We don’t know how many more of these games we’ll have with LeBron visiting Madison Square Garden. The soon-t0-be 38-year old is entering his 20th season in the NBA. One of the most historic careers we’ll ever see going into one of the most historic buildings in the NBA. James always tries to put on a show for the New York crowd, and this will be no different. He’s played 30 times at MSG in his career and has dropped 30 points or more 12 of those times. He’s dropped 50 twice. And he’s won 21 of those 30 games. Expect another show as he keeps waiting for Bronny to make the NBA.
Finally healthy showdown — Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks, Feb. 14 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
I know these two teams are already playing on Christmas, but I want to monitor this series throughout the season. The Bucks truly believe they take down the Celtics in last season’s playoffs if Khris Middleton isn’t hurt. The Celtics believe they are the best team in the East, and they proved it last postseason. With as physical as these two teams are, any showdown between them is going to be must-see. Giannis against Jayson Tatum is a matchup we simply can’t pass up.
Zion goes to MSG — New Orleans Pelicans at New York Knicks, Feb. 25 (7:30 p.m.)
Knicks fans were pinching themselves over the idea that Zion loves New York and Madison Square Garden. Then he had the nerve to sign a five-year max contract extension to stay with the Pelicans. He’s only played one game at MSG as a member of the Pelicans, dropping 34 points in a loss. He’s always going to look to put on a show, and the Knicks fans are probably still going to chant for him to become a Knick.
Fun player showdowns for us
Ja Morant vs. Zion Williamson — Memphis Grizzlies at New Orleans Pelicans, Nov. 15 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
The first two picks of the 2019 NBA Draft are both stars. Williamson has been electric on the floor when healthy. Morant could power an entire metropolis with what he generates, even on missed dunks. The Ja versus Zion conversation has become very pro-Morant over the last year with Williamson missing an entire season. Both of them produce, though, and both of them give us ridiculous highlights. Both of these teams will be a fun matchup against each other all season long.
2022 Rookie of the Year showdown — Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers, Dec. 23 (7:30 p.m.)
Cavaliers fans feel slighted with Evan Mobley not winning Rookie of the Year. Raptors fans feel vindicated in Scottie Barnes winning the award. And both of these teams are pretty good, intriguing squads. When the Raptors come to Cleveland this season, the Cavs fans will boo Barnes whenever they get the chance. Mobley will get to match up with him a few times because both players are very versatile. We’ll decide who the real Rookie of the Year is with this one. Actually, I’m being told it’s been decided and that’s not how this works. Should still be fun.
Trae Young vs. Luka Dončić — Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks, Jan. 18 (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Because of the 2018 draft night trade, Dončić and Young are forever linked. And because both players have instantly been franchise guys, it adds another level to it all. It’s not exactly the new version of Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird when these two face off, but could it be more than what LeBron James versus Carmelo Anthony ended up being? Maybe! This is a nationally televised game, too.
Remember when Green talked trash about the city of Detroit after the Pistons passed on him with the first pick in the draft? Pepperidge Farms remembers. Not only do we get that storyline, but just watching the Pistons and Rockets should be pretty fun. Both have young, talented squads. The Pistons love having Cunningham as the face of the franchise. The Rockets feel the same way about Green. These two squaring off should be fun for a long time.
Edwards and Ball are two of the most exciting young players in the world, and they have wildly entertaining personalities. So when the Wolves and Hornets match up again this season, Edwards has another chance to prove himself against Ball, the player who beat him out for Rookie of the Year in 2021. The Wolves are looking to be a power this season, and the Hornets are trying to figure out how to clear the next hurdle. But the young star power and highlights will be the focus.
Dame vs. CJ — New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers, March 1 (10 p.m., ESPN)
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were running mates for years. They’ll be opponents when McCollum comes back with the Pelicans to face off against his old Blazers team. He’s already played against them twice, but not with Lillard on the floor. They had such a great partnership in Portland, and they’re both ridiculously cold-blooded with the basketball. This could be a really fun scoring affair for two teams looking to prove themselves in the West.
Rookie debuts and showdowns
Banchero’s NBA debut as the first pick of the 2022 draft happens on the road to face off against Jaden Ivey, the fifth pick. They won’t have their home debut in Orlando until Oct. 22 when they face Boston.
Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the draft, begins his career on the road against the new frontcourt of Karl-Anthony Towns and Gobert. That’s a tough task to score on Gobert to start your first game, then be asked to defend Towns on the other end. Holmgren sounds like he’s up f0r any challenge.
Jabari Smith Jr.’s first NBA game — Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks, Oct. 19 (7:30 p.m.)
Smith, the third pick, makes his professional debut on the road against a very good Hawks team and a pretty imposing frontcourt on both ends of the floor. His home debut happens two nights later against a good Memphis team.
Keegan Murray’s first NBA game — Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings, Oct. 19 (10 p.m.)
The fourth pick will make his NBA debut at home when the Kings host Lillard and the Blazers. We’ll get to see what kind of an impact this impressive rookie makes right away.
Jaden Ivey’s first NBA game — Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons, Oct. 19 (7 p.m.)
As mentioned above, Ivey makes his NBA debut at home against Banchero and the Magic. He’ll likely have his hands full with the talented-but-young Magic backcourt options.
Banchero vs. Holmgren — Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, Nov. 1 (7:30 p.m., TNT)
Getting to see the top two picks in an NBA draft square off against each other for the first time is always a fun thing. Considering Banchero and Holmgren play the same position in two very different ways, it adds an extra layer of interest to this Magic-Thunder matchup early in the season.
Banchero vs. Smith — Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic, Nov. 7 (7:15 p.m.)
For weeks, it looked like the Magic were going to take Smith with the No. 1 pick. Then in the final day leading up to the draft, all of the momentum publicly went to the actual pick, Banchero. They faced off in NBA Summer League, but now it’s time for the real deal to happen.
Holmgren vs. Smith — Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets, Nov. 26 (8 p.m., NBA TV)
Let’s not forget to spotlight the showdown between Holmgren and Smith when they face each other for the first time. Smith was passed up by the Thunder when he fell to No. 3. Now he gets to show them they made a mistake, and the Thunder get to show everybody Holmgren is their franchise guy for a reason. This could also be a lot of fun with the Rockets and Thunder rosters because of how young and promising both are.
Murray vs. Ivey — Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings, Nov. 20 (6 p.m.)
One of the outcries in Sacramento happened when the Kings passed on Ivey to grab Murray with the fourth pick. After summer league, not too many Kings fans are bemoaning that selection. But we should still get a decent level of rookie spice when Detroit and Sacramento go against each other for the first time this season. Ivey gets a chance to show the Kings they got it wrong.
(Top photo of Jayson Tatum and Stephen Curry: Kyle Terada / USA Today)