NBA schedule: LeBron vs. Steph on opening night, Philly return of Ben Simmons among 10 early contests to circle – CBS Sports

NBA schedule: LeBron vs. Steph on opening night, Philly return of Ben Simmons among 10 early contests to circle - CBS Sports

The 2022-23 NBA schedule was released on Wednesday (what part of it wasn’t previously leaked, anyway), and naturally, we’re all running through it circling the matchups that stand out. Here are 10 to mark on your calendar for the first six weeks.

Opening night. LeBron James will see 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-content 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 with all the intrigue of a revamped Laker 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 the return of Zion Williamson 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 went down to this point and Durant opens the season against the Networks in Brooklyn? If not, both 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 drubbing in Game 7 of the conference semifinals last season. Turns out, Phoenix was dealing with a COVID outbreak. Chris Paul plays to win even in October. Luka is must-see TV. This is going to be a battle.

4. Scissors at Lakers (October 20)

Another chance to see whatever this Laker roster looks like, but more importantly it should be the return of Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers enter this season as a high-level title contender if Leonard is still an elite superstar. This is our first chance to see how long his return to that status will be after missing all of last season rehabbing from a torn ACL.

If you haven’t heard, Rudy Gobert is now playing for Minnesota, which is becoming 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 he and Gobert will want to get the best of each other.

6. Nuggets at Warriors (October 21)

This isn’t Denver’s opener (which is against the Jazz), but it is the Warriors so this is a great time to tune in for the return of Jamal Murray and possibly Michael Porter Jr. Personally, I’m so excited to watch the Nuggets. this season as any team. This is a legit contender. Nikola Jokic has a case as the league’s best player, and putting Murray back alongside him reunites an elite duo that’s a lot of fun to watch.

The Sixers had a great offseason with the additions of PJ Tucker and De’Anthony Melton, but this is about James Harden and whether his decline last season was the beginning of the end or a one-year blip. The Sixers bet a lot of money ($68.8 million over two years) that he’s still pretty damn elite. This is a pair of teams that have full sights on winning a title. Individually, Giannis vs. Embiid is never a bad matchup to clear the calendar.

The Football Bowl. Lonzo is back for the Bulls and LaMelo is coming off an All-Star nod. Both of these teams are fun to watch, and the two brothers squaring off is worth setting aside some time. You will definitely see them watching out for each other.

Trae Young at Madison Square Garden. Enough said. The Hawks made a big trade acquiring Dejounte Murray this summer and this will be an early look at how he and Young will mesh, and as a potential bonus, the Knicks may have Donovan Mitchell by this point. After Young swept the Knicks in the 2021 playoffs, he returned to MSG last season and scored 45 points. The man knows how to grab the spotlight.

10. Nets at 76ers (Nov. 22)

Let’s all pray to the basketball gods that Ben Simmons is on the court for the Nets in what would be his return to Philadelphia. If he is, this will be a crazy atmosphere. Will Simmons will wither under the heat or turn it into fuel? This almost wouldn’t even qualify as a basketball game. It will feel more like a reality show.

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