NBA

Long-standing opening night rivalries highlight 2022-23 NBA schedule

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The NBA unveiled its schedule for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday afternoon, which kicks off with a pair of long-running rivalries involving the two teams that reached the NBA Finals last season.

The 2022-23 NBA regular season kicks off Tuesday, Oct. 18, with the Philadelphia 76ers traveling to face their lifelong rivals, defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers. heading to the Pacific Coast to take on the 2022 NBA champion Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on the night Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will all receive their fourth championship rings.

Opening week then continues on Wednesday, when ESPN has its first doubleheader of the season, kicked off by the New York Knicks traveling to Memphis to face Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. This will be followed by a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix – the site of Dallas’ superb rout to end the Suns’ season. ranked higher on their home turf in Game 7 of this series. .

In addition to those games, the Orlando Magic and 2022 NBA Draft top pick Paolo Banchero will open their season in Detroit against the Detroit Pistons and 2021 NBA Draft No. 1 selection guard Cade. Cunningham, while Rudy Gobert will play Minnesota. The Timberwolves make their home debut against this year’s second draft pick, Chet Holmgren, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Additionally, the New Orleans Pelicans – who will expect to have Zion Williamson on the court after missing all of last season – will open in Brooklyn against the Nets, who, for now, are still to have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons play together for the first time.

Thursday will see another TNT doubleheader, as the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Sixers, followed by a showdown between the Clippers and Lakers at Crypto.com Arena, while Friday will see ESPN first present a rematch of the Finals. Eastern Conference slugfest between the Celtics and Miami Heat, followed by the Denver Nuggets traveling to San Francisco to face the Warriors.

The first weekend of the NBA season will then feature three notable home starts: Banchero and the Magic hosting the Celtics on Saturday, the same day Jamal Murray is set to return to the field in Denver for the first time in nearly two years to face Thunder. Oklahoma City next host Wolves on Sunday in what will be Holmgren’s first home game.

In addition to showing all five games again on Christmas Day – 76ers-Knicks, Lakers-Mavericks, Bucks-Celtics, Grizzlies-Warriors and Suns-Nuggets – ESPN / ABC will also see its annual Saturday and Sunday demonstration games return this season, all of which will air on ABC.

Saturday’s schedule will kick off with the Celtics traveling to San Francisco to face the Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch on Dec. 10. This will be followed by: Bucks-Heat on January 14; Nuggets-76ers, Knicks-Nets and Lakers-Celtics on Jan. 28; Mavericks-Warriors on February 4; Lakers-Warriors on Feb. 11; Celtics-76ers on Feb. 25; 76ers-Bucks on March 4; and Bucks-Warriors on March 11.

There will be three Sundays, in between, featuring marquee matchups: Grizzlies-Celtics on February 12; Suns-Bucks and Lakers-Mavericks on Feb. 26; and Suns-Mavericks and Warriors-Lakers on March 5.

As the NBA announced earlier this week, there will be no games on Election Day – Tuesday, November 8 – as the league will play all 30 teams the day before in a bid to educate its fans to get out and vote. . Two other regular marquee dates on the schedule will return with games, however: Thanksgiving Eve and Martin Luther King Day.

Thanksgiving Eve will feature an ESPN doubleheader of the Mavericks in Boston to face the Celtics, followed by the Clippers traveling to Golden State to face the Warriors. MLK Day, meanwhile, will feature a pair of TNT games: the Miami Heat at the Atlanta Hawks, followed by the Suns in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

There will also be a generally robust schedule going into and out of the All-Star Break surrounding this season’s All-Star Game, to be held in Salt Lake City. In the days leading up to the break, Boston will travel to Milwaukee and Golden State will travel to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on TNT on Valentine’s Day; the Heat will face the Nets in Brooklyn, and the Pelicans will also travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Wednesday, February 15; and the pre-All-Star program concludes with the Bucks in Chicago against the Bulls and the Clippers in Phoenix against the Suns on TNT on Thursday, February 16.

Coming off the break, a clash between Morant’s Grizzlies and Williamson’s Pelicans in New Orleans will be followed by the Warriors back in Los Angeles to face the Lakers at 10 p.m. on February 23 on TNT, with Miami surrendering. in Milwaukee and the Nets going to Chicago to face the Bulls on ESPN on Friday, February 24.

As always, there will also be several ‘look back’ matches throughout the season, with players returning to face their former teams for the first time. Two of them will involve two teams: the 76ers and the Nets. Ben Simmons, who missed last season’s return to Philadelphia after his trade to Brooklyn, is set to play his first game there since the trade on Tuesday, November 22 on TNT. James Harden, meanwhile, will return to Brooklyn on February 11.

Gobert will return to Utah to face the Jazz on Dec. 9, while Jalen Brunson will return to Dallas with his new team, the Knicks, on Dec. 27, and All-Star guard Dejounte Murray will return to San Antonio for the first time since. that he was traded to the Hawks this offseason on March 19.

Then there is the Donovan Mitchell situation, which is still unresolved. If a long-discussed trade with the Knicks materializes, however, the Knicks will be in Utah on Nov. 15, a game slated to air on TNT, while the Jazz will come to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 11, two days after the NBA trade deadline this season.

As for the top three picks in this year’s NBA draft — Banchero, Holmgren and Houston’s Jabari Smith Jr. — they’ll all see themselves on the court in the opening weeks of the season.

Banchero’s Magic will face Holmgren’s Thunder in Oklahoma City on November 1 on TNT, while the Rockets and Magic will face off in Orlando, Florida on November 7, and the Thunder and Rockets will play in Houston on November 26 on NBA TV.

Over the past few years, the NBA has made efforts to reduce wear and tear on its players, something it tried to do again this season. The league is increasing the number of games without a trip between games on the road from 53 to 88 this season – 55 of which came from playing the same team in the same city two games in a row, and 33 came from playing two games in a row. matches in New York or Los Angeles. Back-to-back games have also dropped again this season, from 13.5 per team last season to 13.3 this season. Since the 2014-15 season, the average number of consecutive games per team has dropped by six full games.

The NBA has also created an “NBA Rivals Week” for the week of Jan. 23, with 11 nationally televised games featuring various rivalries across the league, including battles for New York and Los Angeles and a rematch. of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Lakers. and Toronto Raptors.

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