- - Tuesday, August 15, 2017

After a wild offseason of trades and free agent signings, the NBA released the 2017-18 regular season schedule Monday evening. From postseason rematches to superstars visiting former teams, the Association isn’t short on storylines heading into the new season. Here are 10 games that should pique the interest of NBA fans across the globe.

Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers (October 17, 8 p.m. ET, TNT)

The season will start with a bang when Boston visits Quicken Loans Arena for a Eastern Conference Finals rematch on opening night. After topping the Eastern Conference standings in 2016-17, the Celtics went and added arguably the best free agent on the market in Gordon Hayward, and will be looking to end Cleveland’s three-year streak of reaching the NBA Finals.

Of course, the biggest question mark heading into this game is Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. The four-time All-Star shocked the league by requesting a trade out of Cleveland, and all eyes will be on him and LeBron James if the Cavaliers decide to hold onto Irving to start the season.

New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings (October 26, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT)

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins returns to Sacramento for the first time after the Kings traded him to New Orleans at the end of last season. While Cousins excelled on the court with Sacramento, the three-time All-Star’s volatile behavior and dissatisfaction with the organization made him a liability for the Kings.

With New Orleans, Cousins forms an intimidating frontcourt duo in theory with Anthony Davis, but it remains to be seen if the pair have strong chemistry. Meanwhile, Sacramento had a quietly impressive offseason, drafting speedy Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox and signing veteran free agents Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, and George Hill.

Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers (Nov. 15, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The top two draft picks in the 2017 NBA Draft square off in this early season matchup, when Markelle Fultz and the Sixers head west to take on the Lakers and Lonzo Ball.

After years of “trusting the process,” Sixers fans may finally have a team to be excited about, with a roster full of young talent and a veteran sharpshooter in J.J. Redick. On the other side, questions abound for the Lakers: can they play well enough to attract a superstar or two next offseason? And can Lonzo possibly live up to the lofty expectations set by his father and team president Magic Johnson?

Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors (November 22, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The reigning MVP taking on the defending champions, what more could you ask for? Answer: Paul George.

After a stunning move to acquire the four-time All-Star from Indiana, the Thunder may have a duo in George and Russell Westbrook that can compete with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. This pre-Thanksgiving Day affair could answer if Oklahoma City truly has what it takes to challenge for the Western Conference crown.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers (December 13, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Sticking with Oklahoma City, this weekday matchup pits George against the Pacers for the first time since his move to the Thunder.

It will be interesting to see how the Indiana crowd greets George, who led the Pacers to two Eastern Conference Finals but also gave the team no choice but to trade him in the offseason for a disappointing return.

San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets (December 15, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

San Antonio has dominated the Southwest in recent years, winning the division four out of the past five years. However, after trading for superstar point guard Chris Paul, the Rockets may be ready to challenge the Spurs.

This game will also provide a good test for the backcourt duo of Paul and James Harden. Both players have a reputation of being ball-dominant, and a well-disciplined team such as San Antonio could force the pair into some difficult situations.

Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets (December 22, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

A few days before Christmas, the Rockets will welcome Paul’s former team to Houston for a marquee Western Conference matchup.

Two years after helping convince center DeAndre Jordan to stay with the Clippers, Paul changed teams without a second thought. It’s probably safe to say his former teammates in Los Angeles didn’t take too kindly to that, and thus this one could get nasty.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors (December 25, 3 p.m. ET, ABC)

As almost everyone could have guessed, the participants in the past three NBA Finals will face off on Christmas once again, the Warriors hosting Cleveland at what is sure to be a raucous Oracle Arena.

After their five-game victory in last year’s Finals, the Warriors will probably enter this one as favorites. But as NBA fans have come to understand, when you have LeBron James, you always have a chance.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls (Feb. 9, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Arguably the biggest story coming out of draft night wasn’t the draft itself, but the deal which sent Jimmy Butler from Chicago to Minnesota. Butler returns for the first time to the place where he made three All-Star teams. He’s in Chicago a little over a week before the 2018 All-Star Game takes place in Los Angeles.

While the Bulls look like they’re heading into rebuild mode, the Timberwolves have the makings of a playoff contender. In Minnesota, Butler joins a vastly talented duo in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, and gets to reunite with former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau.

Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz (March 28, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

As mentioned previously, the Celtics convinced Gordon Hayward to leave the Utah Jazz this summer, and in this one the Jazz will get the chance to show him what he left behind.

While certainly not the same without Hayward’s services, Utah still has a solid collection of youthful talent that helped the team win the Northwest Division last year. But will it be enough to stifle the Jazz’s former star and his new squad?

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