2022-23 Kia Season Preview

NBA League Pass Watch Guide: 2022-23 Season, Part 1

Here are 20 must-watch games on NBA League Pass during the 2022 calendar year.

Luka Doncic and Dallas will face Kawhi Leonard and LA for the first time this season on Nov. 15.

There are 75 days between the 2022-23 season opener on Oct. 18 and the end of the 2022 calendar year. A total of 546 games will be played over that time, with 431 games available exclusively on NBA League Pass.

Here are 20 must-see games on NBA League Pass during that stretch.

Wednesday, Oct. 19

Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m. ET

The first matchup of the season features the two most recent No 1. overall draft picks as this year’s top selection Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic visit 2021 top pick Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons in the opening game of the season for both teams. The NBA GM Survey has tabbed Banchero as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year; Cunningham finished third in the official voting behind Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley following his debut season.

New Orleans Pelicans at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET

This game features the long-awaited return of two All-Stars in the opening game of the season: Zion Williamson for the Pelicans and Ben Simmons for the Nets. While both players provided a tease in their opening games of the preseason – Simmons had six points, five assists and four boards in 19 minutes on Monday; Zion posted 13 points and four boards in 13 minutes on Tuesday – this will be their first real action after both players missed all of last season.

Sunday, Oct. 23

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers, 3:30 p.m. ET

Damian Lillard missed more games last season (53 due to an abdominal injury that required surgery) than he had in the first nine seasons of his NBA career combined (38 missed games out of 720 total). With Lillard healthy to open the 2022-23 season, it is once again Dame Time. In Portland’s third game of the season, the Blazers will face LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers. In 32 career games against the Lakers, Lillard has averaged 28.0 ppg, his second-highest scoring average against any opponent.

Wednesday, Oct. 26

Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET

This is a rematch of last year’s first round playoff series in the Eastern Conference, won by Philadelphia in six games. The Sixers took a 3-0 series lead before the Raptors fought back to force Games 5 and 6 before eventually succumbing to Joel Embiid and company. The Raptors won the regular season series 3-1, but were a bit shorthanded in the playoffs with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and All-Star Fred VanVleet each missing two games. Philly would fall to Miami in the East semifinals and retool their roster in the offseason; this early season game will offer a glimpse of those new additions around the Sixers core.

Wednesday, Nov. 9

Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs, 8 p.m. ET

The last meeting between these teams on Feb. 28 was a Ja Morant highlight reel as he scored a career-best 52 points and did so in spectacular fashion. Not only did Morant have a poster dunk in this game, but it also provided the top play of the season with Steven Adams throwing a full-length touchdown inbounds pass with 0.4 seconds left to Morant, who caught the ball in mid-air while falling out of bounds and got the shot off in time to beat the buzzer. What will he have in store this time?

Tuesday, Nov. 15

LA Clippers at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET

This year’s GM Survey has the Clippers tied with the Warriors as the favorites to win the Western Conference thanks to the return of Kawhi Leonard after missing all of last season (ACL), a healthy Paul George (missed much of last season with an elbow injury) and the addition of John Wall (missed all of last season with Houston) to join the rest of the deep Clippers squad. This matchup with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks – coming off their first trip to the West Finals in over a decade – a month into the season should provide a good indicator of how well this Clippers team is coming together.

Sunday, Nov. 20

Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings, 6 p.m. ET

The Sacramento Kings surprised many on draft night when they selected Keegan Murray with the No. 4 overall pick when many had projected Jaden Ivey as the first player to go after the presumptive top three of Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith. With the Kings taking Murray – who would go on to be the MVP of the Summer League in Las Vegas – the Pistons scooped up Ivey with the next pick. These two lottery picks meet for the first time as pros in Sacramento.

Wednesday, Nov. 23

Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks, 8 p.m. ET

This is a rematch of last year’s first round playoff series in the Eastern Conference, won by Milwaukee in five games behind the dominant play of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 28.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists in the series. Chicago’s run to the playoffs ended a four-year postseason drought in the Windy City and the Bulls will look to build on that improvement this season. This matchup with the Bucks just over a month into the season will provide a good test.

Sunday, Nov. 27

Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks, 5 p.m. ET

Another rematch from last season’s first round of the East playoffs, where the top-seeded Heat took out the eighth-seeded Hawks in five games behind Jimmy Butler’s 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Either the Heat (2020, 2022) or the Hawks (2021) have appeared in the Eastern Conference finals in each of the past three seasons. Will it be four in a row when the 2023 postseason comes around?

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Memphis Grizzlies at Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 p.m. ET

We have another rematch from last year’s first round, this time in the Western Conference as the Grizzlies took out the Timberwolves in six games as Ja Morant nearly averaged a triple-double (21.5 ppg, 10.5 apg, 8.7 rpg) and Desmond Bane led the Grizz in scoring (23.5 ppg). After surviving the Play-In Tournament to secure their second playoff berth in 18 seasons, the Wolves made a big splash in the offseason by trading for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to pair with All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and rising star Anthony Edwards. How well will the Wolves look six weeks into this new-look squad?

Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m. ET

In one of the most stunning moves at last year’s trade deadline, the Sacramento Kings sent Tyrese Haliburton (a steal as the No. 12 pick in the 2020 draft) to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for All-Star forward/center Domantas Sabonis. Haliburton, who was shocked by the trade as he saw himself as a building block for the Kings, will return to Sacramento for the first time since the trade.

Friday, Dec. 2

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET

Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler

Two of the league’s most dynamic forwards are set for a rematch on December 2nd.

This is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, which the Celtics won in seven games after Jimmy Butler’s potential go-ahead 3-pointer came up short in the final 20 seconds of a furious Miami comeback in the winner-take-all game. This is the second-half of a two-game set between these teams in Boston, with the first matchup coming on Nov. 30 on NBA TV.

Saturday, Dec. 3

Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 8:30 p.m. ET

Last season saw a few firsts for Stephen Curry: he moved into first place on the all-time 3-pointers made list and became the first player in league history to make at least 3,000 career 3-pointers; he won his first Finals MVP honor after leading the Warriors to their fourth title in eight years; and he hit the first buzzer-beater of his career – this one coming against Houston back on Jan. 21. It was an off-shooting night for Curry, who finished just 6-21 on the night, but he made the shot that mattered most.

Sunday, Dec. 4

Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans, 3:30 p.m. ET

The League Pass watch guide wouldn’t be complete without at least one appearance from the reigning back-to-back league MVP Nikola Jokic. Can Jokic have the same success he had against New Orleans last season? He posted two of his top four scoring games (46 points on March 6; 39 points on Dec. 8) against the Pelicans and came just one assist shy of recording a triple-double in all four matchups. Jokic finished with a league-high 19 triple-doubles last season, with three coming against New Orleans, his most against any opponent.

Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets, 6 p.m. ET

This is a rematch of last season’s first round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs, in a series that was much closer than the final outcome would indicate– a Boston four-game sweep. All four games were decided by seven points or less, including a Game 1 classic that included a game-winning spinning layup at the buzzer by Jayson Tatum. This is the first meeting since the Celtics ended the Nets season on April 25.

Friday, Dec. 9

Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Pelicans, 8:30 p.m. ET

After opening the season 1-12, the Pelicans found their way late in the season following a trade deadline deal for All-Star guard CJ McCollum and climbed into the Play-In Tournament as they looked to secure a playoff berth for the first time in four years. The Pelicans survived elimination games against the Spurs and Clippers to secure the No. 8 seed and a matchup with the top-ranked Suns, who finished eight games better than any team in the league. While the Pelicans looked overmatched on paper, they did not play like it, as they pushed the Suns to a hard-fought six-game series. The teams will first meet on Oct. 28 in Phoenix, but this will be the first of a two-game set in New Orleans.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Utah Jazz, 9 p.m. ET

This will be Rudy Gobert’s first game back in Utah since the blockbuster trade this July that sent him to Minnesota for one of the biggest trade hauls in league history as the Timberwolves sent five players and five future draft picks to the Jazz for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Gobert spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career in Utah, a run that included six straight playoff berths but no trips beyond the conference semifinals. Before Gobert tries to find playoff success with the Wolves, the center from France will face his former team in his first American home city.

Monday, Dec. 19

Utah Jazz at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 p.m. ET

Gobert wasn’t the only All-Star that the Jazz traded this offseason; Utah also struck a deal with Cleveland that sent Donovan Mitchell to the Cavs in exchange for three players (Lauri Markkanen, Ochai Agbaji and Collin Sexton) and three future draft picks. While this won’t be a homecoming game for Mitchell, it will be the first time he faces his former team, but he’ll do so in his new home in Cleveland.

Friday, Dec. 23

Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET

This is a matchup of the team the league’s GMs have tabbed as title favorites this season (Milwaukee) against the team they tabbed as title favorites last season (Brooklyn). This is also a rematch of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinal series won by the Bucks in seven games on their way to winning the 2021 NBA championship. Things could have played out much differently had Kevin Durant’s toe not been on the 3-point line in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 7. While Milwaukee’s big three from that 2021 run remains the same, the Nets have a new-look with Ben Simmons taking the place of James Harden.

Tuesday, Dec. 27

New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET

We close out of League Pass watch guide for the remainder of the 2022 calendar year with another player returning to face his former team for the first time. Less than two months removed from helping the Dallas Mavericks advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in over a decade, Jalen Brunson signed a free agent deal to join the New York Knicks in July. This will be Brunson’s first game back in Dallas since the deal, returning to the city he spent the first four seasons of his NBA career.