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1 big game for every team to circle during the 2022-23 season

From Christmas Day clashes to rookie showdowns, we reveal 1 enticing matchup for every team to pinpoint going into the new season.

Devin Booker and the Suns open the regular season with a playoff rematch against Luka Doncic’s Mavericks.

The 2022-23 NBA schedule has been released. From opening week showdowns to a huge Alamodome hoedown, we’ve got the lowdown on the 1,230-game slate.  Here’s one big game every team can circle on the calendar going into the new season.

Atlanta Hawks

Who: Orlando Magic

Where: State Farm Arena

When: Friday, Oct. 21 (7:30 ET, League Pass)

Who knew a rivalry could start in a summer pro-am game instead of in the NBA playoffs? But it appears that’s what happened when newly acquired Hawks guard Dejounte Murray knocked heads with Magic rookie Paolo Banchero in a “Zeke-End” contest earlier this month.  Once the regular season starts, expect both players to take this intensity to another level.

> Complete Hawks schedule

Boston Celtics

Who: Golden State Warriors

Where: TD Garden

When: Thursday, Jan. 19 (7:30 ET, TNT)

The game will not rectify Boston’s defeat in the NBA Finals, but it could reveal whether or not the Celtics have grown since last season. Will we see more discipline, something Grant Williams lamented the Celtics lacked during the Finals? Will their offseason pickups (Malcolm Brogdon, Danilo Gallinari) boost the team’s championship core?  Can they cut down on turnovers?

> Complete Celtics schedule

Brooklyn Nets

Who: at Boston Celtics

Where: TD Garden

When: Wednesday, Feb. 1 (7:30 ET, ESPN)

The Nets return to Boston for the first time since being swept by the Celtics in the first round. Will Kevin Durant hear cheers? Maybe, considering the Celtics seemingly engaged in trade talks with Brooklyn for his services. Will Kyrie Irving hear boos? Oh for sure, because it’s Kyrie in Boston.

> Complete Nets schedule

Charlotte Hornets

Who: at Atlanta Hawks

Where: State Farm Arena

When: Sunday, Oct. 23 (5 ET, League Pass)

This matchup features both flash and substance. The flash: Trae Young and LaMelo Ball will fill the highlight reels as two of the NBA’s most dynamic, young point guards. The substance: Both the Hawks and Hornets want to show they’ve grown after Atlanta beat Charlotte last season in the Play-In Tournament.

> Complete Hornets schedule

Chicago Bulls  

Who: at Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Fiserv Forum

When: Wednesday, Nov. 23 (8 ET, League Pass)

Lots to chew on here, the night before Thanksgiving. The Bulls’ animosity toward the Bucks has steadily increased, and why not? Milwaukee dispatched Chicago in five games in the playoffs. Before that, Bucks guard Grayson Allen committed a hard foul on Bulls guard Alex Caruso, which sidelined Caruso for a significant part of last season. More chippiness awaits.

> Complete Bulls schedule

Cleveland Cavaliers  

Who: Los Angeles Lakers

Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

When: Tuesday, Dec. 6 (7:30 ET, TNT)

Last season, LeBron James talked about returning to Cleveland, then hit the winning shot in the All-Star Game in front of his Ohio fans. Yesterday, the Lakers tied up James for another two seasons, meaning it’s very unlikely he’ll ever play for Cleveland again. Fear not, Cavs fans. When LeBron comes a knockin’, the FieldHouse will be rockin’.

> Complete Cavaliers schedule

Dallas Mavericks

Who: New York Knicks

Where: American Airlines Center

When: Tuesday, Dec. 27 (8:30 ET, League Pass)

The Mavs have an unsettling question to address. After Jalen Brunson departed for New York, can Dallas adjust without him? The Mavericks hope to lean on Luka Doncic and a handful of role players. But this game could spotlight the Mavs’ growing pains, playing without last season’s dependable No. 2 scorer.

> Complete Mavericks schedule

Denver Nuggets

Who: at Utah Jazz

Where: Vivint Arena

When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 (9 ET, League Pass)

Finally, the Nuggets won’t have to rely solely on Nikola Jokic’s greatness and an overachieving supporting cast. After being sidelined for a combined 100 regular-season games and 15 playoff contests with a torn ACL, Jamal Murray is expected to make his return for the 2022-23 season. Denver fans can’t wait.

> Complete Nuggets schedule

Detroit Pistons

Who: Houston Rockets

Where: Little Caesars Arena

When: Saturday, Jan. 28 (7 ET, League Pass)

There’ll be plenty of young, high draft-pick energy in this matchup. Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in the 2021 Draft, will face each other for the second time. Add Houston’s Jabari Smith and Detroit’s Jaden Ivey (the No. 3 and No. 5 overall picks in 2022), and you’ve got enough fire here to heat up Detroit on a cold winter’s night.

> Complete Pistons schedule

Golden State Warriors

Who: LA Clippers

Where: Chase Center

When: Wednesday, Nov. 23 (10 ET, ESPN)

Every opponent the Warriors face next season will be sky high going up against the defending champs. Pay close attention to the Clippers, though. If healthy, this LA squad could challenge the Warriors as the top team in the Western Conference.

> Complete Warriors schedule

Houston Rockets

Who: at Orlando Magic

Where: Amway Center

When: Monday, Nov. 7 (7:15 ET, League Pass)

In a Summer League game, Rockets rookie Jabari Smith Jr. showed some edginess when he went up against Magic rookie Paolo Banchero, the result of Orlando passing on Smith in favor of Banchero back in June’s draft. Should Smith have gone No. 1? Expect his competitiveness to go to another level when he faces the Magic in an actual regular-season game in Orlando.  All 30 NBA teams are in action on this Monday, but don’t overlook this one.

> Complete Rockets schedule

Indiana Pacers

Who: Phoenix Suns

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse

When: Friday, Feb. 10 (7 ET, League Pass)

Suns center Deandre Ayton faces Indiana for the first time since a four-year, $133 million free-agent contract was put in front of him.  Phoenix, of course, countered with a $133 million deal of its own, which secured Ayton as a restricted free agent. Expect the big man to play the type of game that gave the Pacers’ interest in the first place.

> Complete Pacers schedule

LA Clippers  

Who: at Los Angeles Lakers

Where: Arena

When: Thursday, Oct. 20 (10 ET, TNT)

After missing part of the 2021 NBA playoffs and the entire 2021-22 season with a knee injury, Kawhi Leonard is expected to return for the 2022-23 season fully healthy. That’s great news for Clippers fans. Aside from anticipated rust, expect Leonard to lead the Clippers back to the playoffs, where — if healthy — they could be a problem for everyone. First game of the season, against the rival Lakers … it doesn’t get any better than this.

> Complete Clippers schedule

Los Angeles Lakers

Who: at Golden State Warriors

Where: Chase Center

When: Tuesday, Oct. 18 (10 ET, TNT)

When will LeBron James surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list? With James just 1,326 points away, the countdown begins in earnest on opening night. Assuming James remains healthy and stays close to his career scoring average (27.1 points per game), we can expect him to become the greatest scorer in league history right before the All-Star break. But every bucket counts, making this opening night game even more meaningful than usual.

> Complete Lakers schedule

Memphis Grizzlies

Who: at Golden State Warriors

Where: Chase Center

When: Sunday, Dec. 25 (8 ET, ABC/ESPN)

Grizzlies vs. Warriors is the gift that keeps on giving. During a rugged (and highly entertaining) six-game series last postseason, the Grizzlies showed they can compete with the NBA’s best. But can they beat them consistently when the stakes are highest? Memphis hopes to answer that question next spring. Until then, grab that last cup of eggnog, sit back, and watch these two go at it in prime time.

> Complete Grizzlies schedule

Miami Heat

Who: Boston Celtics

Where: FTX Arena

When: Friday, Oct. 21 (7:30 ET, ESPN)

After losing to Boston in seven games in the conference finals, this game may not relieve any tension that came after that Heat defeat. But Miami at least hopes to show it still has what it takes to be elite in the East. This game will be a barometer.

> Complete Heat schedule

Milwaukee Bucks  

Who: at Boston Celtics

Where: TD Garden

When: Sunday, Dec. 25 (5 ET, ABC)

After falling short against the Celtics in a competitive seven-game semifinal series, the Bucks still largely kept their roster intact this offseason. This game will provide an early indicator on what the Bucks still have. Are they only a healthy Khris Middleton away from being Eastern Conference favorites again?

> Complete Bucks schedule

Minnesota Timberwolves

Who: Utah Jazz

Where: Target Center

When: Friday, Oct. 21 (8 ET, League Pass)

Minnesota will surely enjoy the rim protection that Rudy Gobert once gave Utah. The Jazz might enjoy the depth the Timberwolves once had before acquiring the big defender. The first matchup could offer an early sign of which team benefitted the most from what was perhaps the biggest trade of the offseason.

> Complete Timberwolves schedule

New Orleans Pelicans

Who: at Phoenix Suns

Where: Footprint Center

When: Friday, Oct. 28 (10 ET, ESPN)

The Pelicans almost upset the Suns in the first round of the playoffs. And with Zion Williamson expected to return after missing last season with a foot injury, can the Pels now become a contender in the West? Expect New Orleans to make its case against the team that ended its latest playoff run.

> Complete Pelicans schedule

New York Knicks   

Who: Utah Jazz

Where: Madison Square Garden

When: Saturday, Feb. 11 (7:30 ET, League Pass)

The question is, what uniform will Donovan Mitchell be wearing?  This game comes just two days after the trade deadline. Will Mitchell be facing his former team in a Knicks uniform? Or will he light up MSG for the Jazz,  tantalizing Knicks fans with what could have been.

> Complete Knicks schedule

Oklahoma City Thunder 

Who: at Denver Nuggets

Where: Ball Arena

When: Saturday, Oct. 22 (9 ET, League Pass)

Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren has shown he can thrive as a modern-day big man with exceptional shooting, passing and ball-handling. But can he hold his own against much stronger big men? His first game against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will offer some clues.

> Complete Thunder schedule

Orlando Magic

Who: at Oklahoma City Thunder

Where: Paycom Center

When: Tuesday, Nov. 1 (7:30 ET, TNT)

It’s unclear how competitive Orlando and Oklahoma City will be this season. But that shouldn’t dampen the excitement of Orlando’s Paolo Banchero (No. 1 overall pick) squaring off against OKC’s Chet Holmgren (No. 2 overall pick) in their first regular-season matchup. Although different in position and role, Banchero and Holmgren could become franchise-changing players.

> Complete Magic schedule

Philadelphia 76ers

Who: Brooklyn Nets

Where: Wells Fargo Center

When: Tuesday, Nov. 22 (7:30 ET, TNT)

Philadelphia fans have already booed Ben Simmons after his unceremonious fall from grace. He heard those jeers, however, while sitting on the bench in street clothes. How much louder will it be when Simmons faces the hostile Philly crowd in a game in which he actually plays? This could be the night.

> Complete Sixers schedule

Phoenix Suns

Who: Dallas Mavericks

Where: Footprint Center

When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 (10 ET, ESPN)

The Suns are painfully aware that regular-season dominance does not ensure postseason success. Nonetheless, they’ll enter this season on edge. And you should see that right out of the gate, game one, when Phoenix gets a rematch with Dallas, the team that embarrassed them in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.

> Complete Suns schedule

Portland Trail Blazers

Who: at Sacramento Kings

Where: Golden 1 Center

When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 (10 ET, League Pass)

Damian Lillard will be back after missing 53 games last season to treat an abdominal injury. And we’ll get an instant assessment of the Blazers’ offseason moves, which included a prized Draft pick (Shaedon Sharpe) and perimeter defender (Gary Payton II).

> Complete Trail Blazers schedule

Sacramento Kings  

Who: Detroit Pistons

Where: Golden 1 Center

When: Sunday, Nov. 20 (6 ET, League Pass)

It seems inevitable that Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey will attract the most eyeballs and jeers once he steps on the court. Ivey reportedly did not want the Kings to draft him, and Sacramento happily chose Keegan Murray instead. That sets up an intriguing showdown between two prized rookies.

> Complete Kings schedule

San Antonio Spurs

Who: Golden State Warriors

Where: Alamodome

When: Friday, Jan. 13 (7:30 ET, ESPN)

The Spurs will be “Back Home in the Dome” on this night against the Warriors, playing in the Alamodome for the first time since 2002. San Antonio wants to break the NBA’s all-time attendance record for a regular-season game. The record stands at 62,046, when the Hawks hosted the Bulls at the Georgia Dome in 1998. The configuration for this season’s Alamodome game is 65,000.  Let’s make sure the water cannons have been disabled.

> Complete Spurs schedule

Toronto Raptors  

Who: Philadelphia 76ers

Where: Scotiabank Arena

When: Friday, Oct. 28 (7:30 ET, League Pass)

After being eliminated by the Sixers in the first round last season, the Raptors are eager to see how they measure up now, with the NBA’s reigning Kia Rookie of the Year (Scottie Barnes), established veterans (Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam) and a key offseason pickup (Otto Porter Jr.).

> Complete Raptors Schedule

Utah Jazz  

Who: Denver Nuggets

Where: Vivint Arena

When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 (9 ET, League Pass)

Beginning with their season opener, the Jazz will look significantly different without Rudy Gobert roaming the paint. Will Utah’s backcourt look different too? It remains to be seen, but Jazz fans hope to see All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell in uniform on opening night — and beyond.

> Complete Jazz schedule

Washington Wizards

Who: at Indiana Pacers

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse

When: Wednesday, Oct. 19 (7 ET, League Pass) 

The Wizards rewarded Bradley Beal’s loyalty by giving him a max contract. On opening night, we’ll see if they also gave him a better supporting cast. This new Washington lineup includes No. 10 draft pick Johnny Davis, valued veteran Taj Gibson, and solid role players Delon Wright, Monte Morris and Will Barton.

> Complete Wizards schedule

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