Remember the movie Fever Pitch? You know the underrated sports/love story/comedy with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Okay, anyways, chances are slim, but we move on. Jimmy's character Ben inherited his uncle's season tickets for the Red Sox and at the beginning of every season, he and his boys get together to check out the schedule release and call dibs on tickets. Well for some that is the same feeling when the NBA releases its upcoming schedule.
With a bevy of off-season movement taking place this summer, alongside the annual incoming class of rookies, the 2017-18 season has a number of self written stories waiting to be told. Two books that yet to have an ending include where will Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony end up? Will they play a disgruntled season in with their current team or will they end up joining a team just on the fringe of being a championship contender (really who are we kidding, the trophy is staying in Oakland folks). Whatever your reason for watching and whomever you cheer for, be it a player or a team, the 2017-18 season has a full slate of must see games.
15 Cavaliers vs. Celtics - October 17, 2017
Danny Ainge may have put together his best team since the Big 3 of KG, PP and Jesus Shuttlesworth. Adding to All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford are Gordon Hayward and rookie Jayson Tatum. And those are just the big names. Sure they lost Avery Bradley (which could hurt in the long run) and Kelly Olynyk, but this is a crew set to dethrone King James and take over as the Eastern Conference champions.
With 40, 48 and 53 wins in each of the last three seasons under their belts, this game could easily set the tone for who will control the East, even if it is the first of the 82 game schedule. The biggest question heading into the game will be, how will James and Kyrie Irving mesh, if Irving is still even on the roster.
14 Wizards vs. Sixers - October 18, 2017
The Wizards are in a position to battle for a top four seed in the Eastern Conference this season, possibly even a top two spot depending on how the drama in Cleveland unfolds. The Sixers on the other hand are still trusting in the process. If everything goes according to plan, Philadelphia will trot out a healthy lineup for the first time in years.
This includes a healthy Joel Embiid, a healthy Ben Simmons and a healthy Markelle Fultz, all prized draft picks that have experienced injuries early in their careers that have halted their debuts (minus Fultz, who did go down with a bum wheel in Summer League). Give the Sixers three years to grow together and they very well could fight for the top spot in the conference.
13 Cavaliers vs. Knicks - October 29, 2017
On paper this game is pretty lopsi....actually it doesn't really matter what it is on, paper, screen, court, the game will be one sided no matter what. However, the story leading up to this game over the next couple of months is where Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony will be playing?
Could they possibly be swapped for each other? Irving wants a team of his own and Melo wants a chance at a ring. In theory it's a perfect swap. The question is, can Irving handle being the main man in the Big Apple and can Melo play second fiddle to LeBron James? Maybe the two should get together over a cup of coffee and trade horror stories. In truth, we give Melo the edge on nightmare like scenarios.
12 Lakers vs. Sixers - November 15, 2017
In the classic, "did we make the right choice" matchup between the first and second pick of June's rookie draft, the 76'ers bring their young point guard Markelle Fultz, along with last year's top pick Ben Simmons and hopefully Joel Embiid into LA, to battle the young Lakers and their newest addition, Lonzo Ball.
Record wise, both teams have been absolutely terrible over the last couple of years, but on paper, their future looks bright once all their youth grow into themselves and learn the game. Add in Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle and this game isn't the dog that many feel it could be. Looking at the future, fans will be circling such a matchup for a very long time, for the sake of the game and parity around the league, we hope these top picks can elevate their new teams.
11 Lakers vs. Kings - November 22, 2017
Think back to when the Lakers and Kings battled for the Western Conference supremacy. Long time ago eh? Well, this game isn't going to have even half of the intensity and hype that those classic playoff series had, but what it will give fans is a one-on-one matchup of two young and exciting point guards, something that alone makes this clash must-watch.
When Ball was at UCLA, he gathered all the media love of the next big thing for NBA point guards, but Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox made many fans question if this was in fact true, especially when Fox outplayed his counterpart during their two meetings last season. Ball gets tested by two top point guards in the span of a week, but look for the Lakers to at least come out on top of this one.
10 Thunder vs. Warriors - November 22, 2017
Any time you get Russell Westbrook going against Kevin Durant, there is going to be a story about the former teammates, but this year it's a story worth following because of the components involved. No longer will Westbrook be a one man show for the Thunder as the addition of Paul George now makes this matchup a little more balanced.
Sure the Thunder have to find dance partners for Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but that's aside from the point. With two of the most exciting guards in the league going head-to-head, one with unlimited shooting range and the other displaying vicious rim attacks, the tempo of this game is bound to be nothing less than 100mph. Circle this one folks, cause it's going to be good.
9 Pacers vs. Thunder - December 13, 2017
For as far back as one can remember, there really hasn't been a reason for the average NBA fan to mark this matchup on their calendar. All that has changed this season as Paul George will return to Indiana for the first time and not wearing a Pacers jersey.
For the first time in seven years, the former face of the franchise will walk out of the players tunnel and most likely receive a chorus of boos rather than the cheers he once welcomed. After declaring that he was all but leaving for LA at the end of this season, the Pacers shipped George off for what they felt was the best deal (other's think different). Oh and just as a side note, it's the first time that Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis will face their former team, one that they had very little impact with last season.
8 Warriors vs. Cavaliers - December 25, 2017
Last season fans were waiting with baited breath for the Christmas day game between these same two teams as a rematch of the NBA Finals. This year the story remains the same, except for the fact that since the actual championship series was such a dud, Christmas may feel a little less exciting.
Watching LeBron play on December 25th is always a gift, but the question is, will Kyrie Irving be running the point or will he be wearing a different jersey by this point in the season. If so, the narrative will more likely be, where James will be suiting up next season rather than the game at hand. This clash might be one of the final times fans get to enjoy LeBron clash against his rivals while wearing the Cavs jersey.
7 Timberwolves vs. Lakers - December 25, 2017
For fans on the West Coast, this will be the perfect after dinner game to cap off the night. For East Coast fans, well, you may regret going to bed early. On paper, this is a lopsided game as the once young Timberwolves now bring a veteran lineup to the fight, whereas the Lakers are in a place that Minnesota once occupied.
If the game starts to favor one team, the best part will be the banter that either Jeff Van Gundy or Reggie Miller bring about Lavar Ball. No matter how you look at it, this is a must see clash and one that NBA wisely placed on December 25th date. If you like drama and off-court antics, this game is certainly for you.
6 Clippers vs. Rockets - January 15, 2018
The Lob City experiment was fun while it lasted, but for all the hype, the furthest the team reached was the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Sure that is nothing to sneeze at and a number of teams in the league would be happy to call that a successful season, but with all the firepower, talent and leadership, expectations certainly fell short.
Some call Chris Paul one of the best leaders in the game, but he has yet to lead a team to the promise land. Now he joins a 55 win Houston team that was dominated by James Harden's near MVP season. Is this the year and team that Paul leads to the title, or will fans in LA find solace in the fact that the Rockets will also fall short and be stuck with Paul's moody behavior?
5 Bulls vs. Timberwolves - February 9, 2018
A tale of two teams heading in completely different directions. At one point not too long ago, the Chicago Bulls were among the top seeded teams in the Eastern Conference and the Timberwolves were floating in the Western basement. Man oh man how times have changed since then.
After revamping their lineup this summer, Minnesota heads into the Windy City with former Bull' Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in their lineup. Throw in Coach Tibbs and his defensive minded approach to the game and this one is pretty much in the bag for the Wolves. The only question is, how will the fans welcome Butler back into the building? Cheers or boos, nonetheless, you can expect the big man to have a standout game.
4 Lakers vs. Cavaliers - March 11, 2018
At this point in the season, fans will be left wondering if LeBron will pull a DNP-Rest or if he will actually suit up. Chances are being that this game is in Hollywood, James will play. But there might be an alliterative motive behind his performance as it has been long rumored that LA may be the next place of interest for James to rest his head.
He already has a Hollywood address and numerous business ventures in the area, so why not finish his career under the biggest spotlight in the league? Magic Johnson has been working to clear cap space to sign max money free agents next summer and there won't be any better an opportunity to subtly roll out the red carpet than when the Cavs make their only appearance in Laker land next spring.
3 Sixers vs. Timberwolves - March 24, 2018
Okay, at what point did you think you would see both the Sixers and Timberwolves on a 'Must See" list? Seriously, we're talking about two teams that could hardly muster 30 wins last season (Sixers 28 & Wolves 31).
That's all in the past folks, this game is bound to be fun and TNT needs to be there! Embiid, Fultz and Simmons vs. Towns, Wiggins and Butler, oh my! The amount of young talent on the floor, which included the past four top draft picks overall is worth the price of admission alone. Throw in all their component pieces and this could be the beginning of a cross conference battle for years to come. This is a must-see game for not only the fans, but for the NBA as well as the league is eager to create new stars. Such a battle, does exactly that.
2 Jazz vs. Celtics - March 28, 2018
After years of building their roster piece-by-piece, it looked as though the Utah Jazz were ready to break through to the top tier of the Western Conference this season (thanks to some help by other teams and off season movement).
Then came the dreaded day in which Gordon Hayward, the Jazz star forward decided to leave town and head to Boston. Maybe Hayward knew the writing was on the wall and that realistically, a shot of at least getting to the NBA Finals in the East was a lot better than playing behind the Golden State Warriors on the other end of things. After being a hero in Utah for seven years, chances are the Jazz faithful will not be very welcoming to Hayward on this night.
1 Wizards vs. Celtics - April 10, 2018
There are but a few rivalries left in the NBA that appear to be genuine and not forced by the media. Washington and Boston fall into the category of self made enemies. After a regular season slate of games highlighted by the "funeral game", the two Eastern Conference teams certainly share no love lost.
With a slew of flagrant fouls, technical fouls, trash talking and skirmishes from their regular season and playoff series last year, the final home game for the Wizards of the 17/18 schedule welcomes the Celtics to what is sure to be a hostile Capital One Arena. If you love a good old rivalry with some serious edge to it, this is a must-see game for you the viewer.