Expectation has been one of the most recurrent feelings in NBA over the past couple of weeks, considering how many exciting matchups between players and teams are just around the corner when the season kicks off in a couple of months.
Of course, some matchups are way more exciting or interesting than others, but if you’re a basketball fan, you must be keen and eager to watch how several stories unveil during this upcoming campaign.
Considering how this offseason has fared and how much has been said about some moves that have to happen or that are bound to happen during his upcoming months, we’re going to let you know about the top 10 most important matchups you just can’t miss this upcoming season.
10. The Return Of Paul Millsap To Atlanta
It is always good to see this type of coincidence and more when it happens in NBA. After being acquired by Denver Nuggets, Paul Millsap will make his return to Philips Arena in the very first game of Atlanta Hawks at home (Oct. 27), after being one of the most important players there since his arrival back then in 2013.
Paul became a big star in Atlanta, leading the team to several playoffs appearances, but after failing every time they landed on that stage he decided to move to Denver and take a chance on its ambitious project. Hawks’ fans will see his former star in their first match at home, hoping he doesn’t have a very good night, but definitely welcoming him with open arms.
9. Joel Embiid Clashes With Lonzo Ball For The First Time
After trading some bad words with Lonzo’s father, Lavar Ball, Joel Embiid will visit Lonzo for the first time ever on Nov. 15 when Sixers square off against Lakers. Let’s remember that back then in July Embiid had not-so-good words for LaVar Ball while doing an Instagram Live.
After that, Embiid and LaVar started a twitter war and comments of each other, creating great expectations for this first match between Lonzo and Joel’s teams. Besides, having the opportunity to see one of the most interesting and promising prospects in the NBA face off against yet another standout prospect is always something to look up to.
8. Paul George (Thunder) Facing The Lakers For The First Time
According to himself, Paul George is heading to Lakers as soon as his contract with Thunder expires, even saying he would recruit Klay Thompson in order to give back the Lakers their greatness. Seeing the good players Lakers has been putting together over the past couple of campaigns via NBA drafts, these matchups look like the best chance for George to have a better reference of the Lakers and their project.
Besides, he’ll have a great chance to show them what they’re going to get when they ink the All-Star forward to a long term deal. Paul is visiting the Lakers for the first time on Jan. 3 and then Jan. 17 and Feb. 8 in OKC to finish the duel at Staples Center on Feb. 8
7. DeMarcus Cousins Against Sacramento Kings
After joining Anthony Davis and the Pelicans, DeMarcus Cousins will face his former team, Sacramento Kings on Oct. 26 at TNT according to NBA. The Kings surprised everybody when they trade him to join the New Orleans Pelicans to create a really scary front court and leave Sactown looking ahead to the future.
Now, Cousins is set to make a playoff push alongside Davis and Jrue Holiday, while the Sacramento Kings are just going to let his youngsters play and develop, so expect a quite lopsided score with Cousins filling the stat sheet in an elite fashion.
6. Markelle Fultz Against Lonzo Ball For The First Time Ever
Besides that aforementioned Ball-Embiid matchup, that game will also represent the first time both Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz face each other at this level, featuring the 1st and 2nd pick and two of the most promising youngsters for the league’s future.
This game (Nov. 15) will definitely turn a lot of heads and it might as well represent the start of a future rivalry, with both the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers owning some of the most promising projects in the Association right now.
5. Paul George Against Indiana Pacers
Paul George became one of the biggest rivals for LeBron James’ Miami Heat during his stay with Indiana Pacers, but this departure to the Oklahoma City Thunder via trade left Nate McMillan’s team pretty much on an island Paul will be visiting his former team on Dec. 13 although they will play first at OKC on Oct. 25.
Paul now has to demonstrate Indiana that he’s a winner and that he was right about his desire to leave the Pacers and considering his harsh words to his teammates and the franchise, we wouldn’t expect much of a warm welcome from Pacers fans.
4. The Gordon Hayward-Jazz Reunion
Hayward was one of the first players to change team, deciding to join Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas in Boston to become the newest Big Three of the Celtics. Hayward was arguably the maximum star in Utah since Deron Williams or Carlos Boozer and seeing the last season from Jazz, it looked like Hayward was going to have a very successful run with his team but things changed really fast as soon as the season ended.
According to Sam Amick, Celtics and Jazz will face off on Dec. 15th at the TD Garden, while Hayward will visit his former home on March 28. This appears to be one of the best matchups in the league for the next years seeing the quality of both teams.
3. Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson vs. Chicago Bulls
Chicago had some good playoffs runs in past years under Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage, but now that magic seems to be stolen by Minnesota, which not only counts with Thibs but with Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, two of the Chicago Bulls go-to-guys during those good years.
So, after struggling to thrive in the Postseason and achieve the ultimate stage of the playoffs, the United Center will host all of them next Feb. 9, expecting a really heartfelt moment when they have to witness their franchise player suit up for another team.
2. Chris Paul Against Doc Rivers And Los Angeles Clippers
Chris Paul joined James Harden and the Houston Rockets to make the Texan team look extremely powerful for this next season. CP3 took his arsenal to Texas and create one of the best duos in NBA right now under Mike D’Antoni’s command, and now they are very likely to compete against Warriors and Spurs for the supremacy of the Western Conference.
Nonetheless, considering how surprising this move was, pretty much everybody needs to watch the Clippers host Houston at Staples Center on Jan. 15 when Chris Paul tries to demonstrate Doc Rivers and his squad that he’s the best point guard in the Association.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors
Following last NBA Finals, everybody is talking about Cavaliers-Warriors’ matchups this next season as a clash between these two is always attractive to all fans around the world. LeBron James and his teammates are ready to take over the NBA again in which might be the last season of the King in Cleveland if he doesn’t win the ring –and after Kyrie Irving demanding to be traded.
Cavs will look for some kind of revenge on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 15 when the two teams see their faces at Quicken Loans Arena. This is certainly the most expected matchup of the year and it won’t disappoint seeing the history between both of them.