When the 2023-24 NBA regular season starts on October 24, it’ll mark the 78th season since its inception in 1946. That’s a lot of history for what has become the greatest basketball league in the entire world, but perhaps the best is yet to come as we prepare for another exciting and entertaining season of basketball.
Last year, we saw the Denver Nuggets win their first-ever championship when they beat the Miami Heat 4-1 in the NBA Finals. Joel Embiid won his first MVP – though it easily could’ve gone to Nikola Jokic or Giannis Antetokounmpo. Oh, and let’s not forget LeBron James is now the NBA’s all-time points leader.
Toward the end of last season, we had to say goodbye to two all-time greats when LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony announced their retirement in March and May, respectively. Since then, a lot has happened between the NBA Draft, the free agency period, the trade requests, and the coaching changes.
Marquee Games on the 2023-24 NBA Regular Season Schedule
The 2023-24 NBA regular season is set to be unlike any other. It’ll start with dozens of preseason games between October 5 and October 20 – including games in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Seattle, Birmingham, Tulsa, Abu Dhabi, Vancouver, Madrid, and Montreal. The season will start 4 days after the preseason.
It won’t take long before fans get their first taste of the newly-minted In-Season Tournament, with group play beginning on November 3 and ending on November 28. The Quarterfinals will be played between December 4 and 5, the Semifinals take place on December 7, and the Championship is on December 9.
We will also see the NBA return to Paris, France and Mexico City, Mexico – much like they did last year – in November and January, respectively. The All-Star Game is on February 18, 2024, the regular season ends on April 24, the play-in tournament begins on April 16, and the playoffs start on April 20 – let’s go!
If you’re not already excited about what the season has in store, then let’s take a look at 20 of the games we can’t wait to watch – it’s time to get hyped!
1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets (October 24)
The NBA will open its 2023-24 regular season on October 24 with two exciting matchups – starting with the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers at 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s a rematch of the Western Conference Finals from last year, which ended in a Nuggets’ sweep. The Lakers would love to get their revenge.
The Nuggets and Lakers met four times in the regular season last year – the Lakers won twice and the Nuggets won twice. In those four games, the home team won each time – if history repeats itself, we should expect a win from Denver on opening night. Of course, this is the NBA and anything is possible!
2. Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs (October 25)
On October 25, the San Antonio Spurs will watch their No. 1 overall pick, Victor Wembanyama, make his NBA debut – perhaps one of the most anticipated debuts since LeBron James. The 19-year-old stands roughly 7-foot-4 and weighs 209 pounds, so it’ll be interesting to see how he transitions into the NBA.
It won’t be an easy debut, though. The Mavericks – headlined by Luka Doncic – don’t have anyone who can match up to Victor’s height, but their combination of Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Christian Wood, and Richaun Holmes will be a lot to handle. Their strength will be a problem for the young forward.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls (October 25)
October 25 will be an exciting day for the NBA. Not only will Wembanyama make his debut, but Chet Holmgren will make his debut for the Oklahoma City Thunder. They selected him as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but suffered a season-ending injury before the season began – a tragedy.
Standing 7-foot-0, Holmgren has a size advantage at the power forward position but like Wembanyama, he lacks strength and power down low. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against the Bulls’ big men – which include Andre Drummond and Nikola Vucevic. It won’t be easy, but let’s hope he stays healthy.
4. Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics (October 27)
The Boston Celtics are going to be searching for revenge when they match up against the Miami Heat on October 27. The Heat defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals last year in what was quite an entertaining seven-game series. It’s always an exciting matchup whenever they play one another.
In fact, it’s turning into quite the rivalry as the two teams have met each other in the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the past four seasons. The Heat won two of those series, while the Celtics won the other. Unfortunately for both of these teams, neither were able to extend their success in the NBA Finals.
5. Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings (October 27)
Speaking of exciting playoff rematches from a year ago, the Golden State Warriors play the Sacramento Kings on October 27 – making it a night full of exciting matchups. The two teams met in the first round of the playoffs last year, but it was one of the more entertaining series with the Warriors winning in 7 games.
The Kings are poised to continue their rise to success – they had missed the playoffs for 17 straight years before their berth last season. Meanwhile, the Warriors must, once again, prove that they’re still a team to beat in the Western Conference. They seem to come through when doubt is at its highest, so watch out!
6. Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks (October 30)
While the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics always make for prime television, you could say the same thing about the Heat and Milwaukee Bucks. Like the Celtics, the Heat have played the Bucks in three of the past four playoffs and – also like the Celtics – the Heat have won two of those series. It’s a bit of a rivalry.
Last year, the Heat beat the Bucks 4-1, becoming the sixth No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed in NBA playoff history. As you can likely imagine, that didn’t sit very well with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. They have a new coach this year, but will it be enough to outsmart Erik Spoelstra and the Heat?
7. Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic (November 9)
On the surface, this doesn’t look like that exciting of a matchup. The Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic have underperformed as of late – more so the Magic – but it’s still a game we can’t wait to see because it marks the NBA’s return to Mexico (one of two games that will take place across international borders).
On November 9, the Hawks and Magic will play inside Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico. It’s the 13th regular season game in Mexico and the third time the Magic will play in Mexico – the Hawks have yet to play in Mexico, but did play in London in 2014. Last year, the Heat and Spurs made the trip to Mexico.
8. In-Season Tournament Group Play (November 3-28)
The NBA is doing something different this year – an In-Season Tournament similar to the one the WNBA does every year. The Group Play stage will consist of 7 games on Nov. 3, 9 games on Nov. 10, 10 games on Nov. 14, 11 games on Nov. 17, 5 games on Nov. 21, 10 games on Nov. 24, and 8 games on Nov. 28.
All 30 teams will play two games (a home and an away game) designated for the Group Play stage – the games will also count as a regular season game and count towards the team’s overall record. 8 teams will advance to the Knockout Round, consisting of the winners of all six Groups and two ‘Wild Card’ teams.
9. In-Season Tournament Knockout Rounds (December 4-9)
The 8 teams that advance to the Knockout Round will enter a win-or-go-home situation. The quarterfinals will take place on December 4 and December 5 with the higher seed hosting the game. The semifinals are on December 7 and will be held in Las Vegas. These games will also count as regular season games.
The championship game will see the two remaining teams fight for the inaugural NBA Cup – the game will be on December 9 and take place in Las Vegas, but won’t count as a regular season game. At the end of the tournament, an MVP and all-tournament team will be announced. There’s also money up for grabs!
10. Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors (December 22)
In late-June, the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors agreed on a trade that sent Jordan Poole (and several others) to Washington and Chris Paul to the Warriors (the deal happened after Paul was traded by the Suns to the Wizards for Bradley Beal). It was a surprising trade, to say the least.
On December 22, Poole will make his return to the Warriors’ home court and Paul will play against a team that had no interest in his style of play. It’ll be interesting to see how Paul fits in that Warriors’ offense, but let’s be honest – there’s nothing we want to see more than Poole go off for 40 points against his old team.
11. Christmas Day Games (December 25)
It’s hard to believe that Christmas Day is just 15 weeks away. While everyone else is excited to open presents, some of us are more excited about the slate of NBA games that will keep us glued to the TV all day. It’s going to be an MVP-filled day – 7 of the past 9 MVP winners will be in action on December 25.
The Bucks and Knicks will start things off at 12:00 p.m. ET, followed by the Warriors and Nuggets at 2:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics and Lakers will take to the floor at 5:00 p.m. ET, followed by the 76ers and Heat at 8:00 p.m. ET. The day will end with the Mavericks and Suns at 10:30 p.m. ET – for those who are still up!
12. Detroit Pistons vs. Houston Rockets (January 1)
On June 22, during the 2023 NBA Draft, we witnessed history when the Houston Rockets selected Amen Thompson with the No. 4 overall pick and the Detroit Pistons drafted Ausar Thompson with the No. 5 overall pick. The two twins became the first brothers drafted in the top-five – and they did it back-to-back.
On January 1, they will play against each other in the NBA for the first time when the Rockets host the Pistons. They’ve played alongside one another for most of their young careers, but now they’ll have to find success apart from one another. They’ll be rooting for one another, but not on January 1, of course.
13. Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (January 11)
The Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers isn’t a high-end matchup that most people will want to watch, but their meeting on January 11 will be a special one – they’ll be playing in Paris! The game will be played inside the Accor Arena and will mark just the third regular season game played in The City of Light.
The NBA debuted their partnership with Paris in 2020 when the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Charlotte Hornets. The NBA returned last season with the Chicago Bulls beating the Detroit Pistons. Now, it’s the Nets and Cavaliers’ turn – they’ve both played in Mexico City and London, but never in Paris, France.
14. Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics (January 13)
Most of us remember when the Boston Celtics suspended their head coach, Ime Udoka, for the entirety of the 2022-23 season after violating team policy – for those who don’t know, he had an intimate relationship with a female staff member. The once-revered head coach was immediately replaced by the Celtics.
On April 25, the Houston Rockets announced that Udoka would be the team’s next head coach – marking his return to the NBA. On January 13, 2024, he’ll make his return to Boston when the Rockets travel to TD Garden for a game against the Celtics. I’m sure he would love to steal a victory against his old team.
15. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Games (January 15)
Much like Christmas Day, the NBA does a great job of celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a series of exciting matchups as they honor one of the most prominent figures in America’s history. There will be nine games in total, but only two of them will be televised on TNT – and two others will be on NBA TV.
The two TNT games will be the Heat vs. the Hawks at 3:30 p.m. ET followed by the Suns vs. Grizzlies at 6:00 p.m. ET. The two NBA TV games will be the Celtics vs. the Hornets at 1:00 p.m. ET followed by the Rockets vs. the Lakers at 10:30 p.m. ET. All other games will be available with the NBA League Pass.
16. Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics (February 4)
In late June, the Boston Celtics made one of the more shocking trades of the NBA offseason when they sent fan-favorite Marcus Smart to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis and two draft picks – Boston also got rid of Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala, and a first-round pick in the trade.
On February 4, Marcus Smart will make his return to TD Garden when the Grizzlies match up against the Celtics. While he’ll likely receive a standing ovation from the fans – as well as a tribute video before the game – it won’t change his desire to stick it to them on the court. Expect him to play with some extra fire.
17. Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards (February 4)
Speaking of shocking trades, the Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards were involved in quite the trade in late-June when the Suns landed Bradley Beal in exchange for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet, and draft picks. It was about time the Wizards moved on from Beal, who deserves to be part of a winning team.
On February 4 – the same day Marcus Smart makes his return to Boston – Beal will make his return to Washington. It’ll be an emotional game for the star shooting guard, who spent his entire 11-year career with the Wizards. I don’t know about you, but I can see him putting up a cool 50-piece (if not more).
18. Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors (February 9)
The Toronto Raptors gave Fred VanVleet the opportunity he was hoping for when they signed him to their 2016 Summer League roster. He eventually survived the roster cuts and has been a fan-favorite and mainstay on the team ever since – proving that undrafted players can find success in the league.
This past offseason, VanVleet shocked us all when he signed a contract with the Houston Rockets – the richest contract by an undrafted player in NBA history. On February 9, he’ll make his return to Toronto when the Raptors host the Rockets in Scotiabank Arena. Expect a standing ovation and a tribute video!
19. Charlotte Hornets vs. Portland Trail Blazers (February 25)
At the start of the 2023 NBA Draft, everyone knew the Spurs would select Victor Wembanyama – they’d be dumb not to. With that said, there was plenty of debate on who should go next – the Hornets had No. 2, while the Trail Blazers had No. 3. It was mostly between Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson.
The Hornets ended up taking Miller at No. 2 and the Trail Blazers ended up taking Henderson at No. 3. On February 25, fans will get their first look at the No. 2 and No. 3 picks battling it out when the Trail Blazers host the Hornets. The two teams will also play one another in Charlotte on April 3, 2024.
20. Denver Nuggets vs. Miami Heat (February 29)
The NBA Finals went exactly how we all thought it would go with the Nuggets whooping the Heat in five games. Miami never really stood a chance against the Nuggets’ combination of a high-powered offense and stingy defense. As a result, Denver ended up winning the first championship in franchise history.
On February 29, the Nuggets and Heat will take part in a Finals rematch – the first of two games between them this season. They’ll also play one another in Miami on March 13, just one month before the playoffs start. The Heat will definitely be looking to get their revenge, but the Nuggets won’t make it easy for them.
Storylines to Watch During the 2023-24 NBA Regular Season
The 2023-24 NBA regular season is fit with plenty of storylines to watch as we prepare for what should be an exciting year of basketball. We’ve already seen the retirement of Lou Williams (one of the best bench players of all time) and Udonis Haslem (who spent his entire 20-year career in a Miami Heat uniform).
The Detroit Pistons (Monty Williams), Houston Rockets (Ime Udoka), Milwaukee Bucks (Adrian Griffin), Philadelphia 76ers (Nick Nurse), Phoenix Suns (Frank Vogel), and Toronto Raptors (Darko Rajaković) all have new coaches to start the year. Doc Rivers and Mike Budenholzer remain unsigned.
Victor Wembanyama has arrived. Damian Lillard is still looking for a trade. Bradley Beal joined Kevin Durant, Deandre Ayton, and Devin Booker in Phoenix. Kristaps Porzingis joined Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston. Chris Paul is in Golden State. Jordan Poole is in Washington. Are you ready? Cause we are!
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