The NBA season is right around the corner, and everyone is getting excited. Kyrie going back to Cleveland to see Lebron will be a fun little reunion, and the new look Rockets will travel to the Bay Area to face the defending champion Warriors, but I am here to showcase the non-nationally televised games that all you league pass subscribers should watch. Even if you don’t have league pass, Reddit is always a reliable second option! So let’s dive right in.
Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics - Wednesday, October 18, 7:30pm
Although the Celtics will be coming off their opening night game against Cleveland, this game should be a great one. We’ll see if the Celtics will have trouble with team chemistry against the Cavs, but from the preseason it didn’t look like it. The team looked like they were having fun and enjoying playing basketball together with no real issues showing… yet. This is going to be Kyrie and Gordon’s first game in Boston, which is definitely a sight to see. They aren’t facing just any opponent; the Bucks are looking to take the East by storm this year. With another year of Giannis and a young, athletic team yet again, the Bucks want to run through the East, and this will be their first test. I LOVE the Bucks this season. I predicted that they will be the two seed in the East and that Giannis will win MVP. I have no inside knowledge on this, but for some strange reason I have a feeling Giannis improved his jumper over the offseason and will shoot better than 27% from three, like he did last season. I also expect a leap from Thon Maker this season, and I think with those two players the Bucks will be a force to be reckoned with in the East.
After reading this matchup, you may be thinking, what the heck? You read it correctly: Kings vs Mavericks. I know both these teams will probably win less than 70 games combined this year, but the point guard matchup in this game will show the future of the position. De’Aaron Fox matched up against Dennis Smith; sign me up right now. I think both these players will make a serious run at ROY, and to see them play so early in their careers will be awesome. The athleticism between these two young studs is through the roof, so we are sure to see some eye-popping plays in this game. Also, I am a fan of the Kings this season. The first season without all the Boogie gossip will be an interesting storyline throughout the season, and I loved the Kings’ offseason. Drafting Fox, Jackson and Giles were all safe picks with high upside (mostly Giles), but I would’ve loved if they kept the tenth pick and kept Fox and Malik Monk together. The young frontcourt of the Kings is interesting too. Cauley-Stein, Skal, and Papagiannis are all players looking to gain minutes and prove their NBA talent. On the flip side, the Mavericks are one of the most boring teams in the NBA, but Dirk is a fan favorite and watching his 39-year-old body slowly make its way up and down the court is always mesmerizing.
Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors - Saturday, October 21, 7:30pm
The Process is officially off and running. With everyone healthy (hopefully), the 76ers are looking to make an anticipated run in the East this year. It’s no secret that everyone loves the Sixers this season. If Embiid and Simmons (and Fultz) can stay healthy, this squad is not to be messed with. They will definitely have some growing pains with such a young team, but chemistry will not be an issue at all. It seems, at least from the outside, that this team loves each other, and Embiid is at the center of this. Bringing in JJ Reddick as a veteran presence (for a hefty 20 million dollars, secure the bag JJ) was a solid move for the organization that needed some shooting. The Sixers over/under this year is 41.5 wins, which means they would have to win 14 more games just to hit the over, and this game against the Raptors will give us an early look if the Sixers are legit or not. The Raptors, who have made the playoffs the last four seasons, are always a very solid team, but they have had the same team for four seasons. Continuing to run it back with Lowry and DeRozan will consistently win you 46+ games each year but won’t advance you any further than the Eastern Conference Finals. This is why I think this will be one of the most fun matchups of week one in the NBA. Seeing how this young Sixers team does against the veteran Raptors should give us a sneak peak at both teams for the upcoming season. If the Sixers can put up a fight or even win this game, they will show that they can be a playoff team this year and contend with some of the better East teams, but if they get blown out, maybe the Sixers hype was too much. It is just one game, but one very intriguing game for basketball fans to pay attention to.
Now this may be the best game of the week. Both new teams added stars to their rosters and are looking to contend in the Western Conference. A lot of fans were disappointed by Minnesota last year, but they were still young and learning. This year, with a year of Tom Thibodeau under their belt, the young roster, along with new addition Jimmy Butler, will look to shake up the West. They have one of the best under-24 players on their team, Karl Anthony Towns, as well as a talented Andrew Wiggins as a sound third option. High expectations probably made this team feel too much pressure last season, but a veteran like Jimmy Butler should be able to make it easier on the youth. Matching up with OKC will be fun to watch because of the Thunder’s new additions in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. I expect Butler to take George and Wiggins to take responsibility of Melo, but that still leaves reigning MVP winner, Russell Westbrook. Jeff Teague isn’t much of a defensive superstar, so watching how Minnesota matches up on defense will be interesting. Maybe they will put Butler on Westbrook, Wiggins on George and leave Melo with Taj Gibson/Gorgui Dieng. It’ll also be compelling to watch how both teams are adjusting to their new stars after only a few games. Usually it takes teams a few weeks to adjust to major roster changes, so when two teams with this much change matchup during the first week of the season, it is a must watch.