December 26 : L. A. Lakers at Sacramento Kings : Jimmer Mania will finally get off to its NBA start and the league was nice enough to let it begin at home. You can be absolutely certain Sacto will be buzzing with the hated Lakers coming to the city and Jimmer’s debut, but there could be more to the big talk than that. Las Vegas odds
December 26 : Oklahoma City at Minnesota : Before there had been Jimmer Mania, there was Rubio Fever. We’ve just had to wait some time for it. Anctipation! Kevin Love will eventually be able to believe what he sees as the floppy-haired Spaniard takes the floor with the Timberwolves for the first time against Durant, Westbrook and the Thunder. Vegas odds
December 27 : Boston at Miami : The first meeting between the Heat and Celtics since last years playoff series. It’s widely known that LeBron and Wade don’t truly get along well with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The more teams do not like each other, the better.
December 29 : New York at Los Angeles Lakers : Maybe the two most tangible franchises in the league with two musters full of stars. Amar’e Stoudemire man-to-man against Pau Gasol is a grand matchup, but if we are fortunate, it will be iso battles between Melo and Kobe for the last couple minutes of the game.
December 29 : Dallas at Oklahoma City : The first Thunder opportunity for payback and redemption comes almost two months into the season. It’s a very long time to hang about but you can be absolutely sure the Arena Previously Called the Ford Center will be amped about this one. The last time the Mavericks were in Oklahoma Town, they broke the Thunder’s heart with that ridiculous 15-point comeback.
Janurary 1 : Cleveland at New Jersey : Top pick Kyrie Irving will have a handful of games under his belt by the point he heads to New Jersey, but this may be his first game against a unparalleled point guard. This should be a quick welcome-to-the-NBA moment for the Cavs new franchise kid.
Janurary 5 : Dallas at San Antonio : The old champions vs the other ones gives a novel twist to an old competition. These two Texas titans have not gotten along and have had some pretty awesome games over the past decade or so. You can be absolutely certain that for once, Dirk and the Mavs will have a bit more swagger in Dallas as the Mavs take the floor against Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
Janurary 13 : Chicago at Boston : It is the Thibodeau Bowl. The Celtics might be aging but you know they aren’t going to just hand the East over. The Bulls are rising and you know they’d like to rub last year’s triumph over the Celtics in the regular season in their face.
Janurary 14 : Lakers “at” Clippers : By no means have the Clippers concerned to the Lakers, but there is a chance that this team might be pretty good. After a terrifying begin to last season, the Clippers put together a solid last four months of the season. Some might be looking at this game as a changing-of-the-guard kind of affair — which it’s not — but the Clippers could definitely raise some eyebrows.
Janurary 14 : New Jersey at Utah : It will definitely be more unceremonious as Melo’s return to Denver which was more unceremonious as LeBron’s return to Cleveland, but Deron Williams coming back to Utah will certainly have the awareness of Jazz fans. There’s some that still blame Jerry Sloan’s retirement on Williams and that full situation didn’t sit well in Salt Lake. Williams will possibly feel some resentment from Jazz fans, whether or not it is not entirely deserved.
Janurary 19 : Los Angeles Lakers at Miami : I am not totally sure, but I think Kobe is still in American Airlines Center shooting. Kobe loves beating LeBron and you know the sensation is mutual. A couple of the league’s biggest, most identifiable groups with the 2 largest, most detectable stars.
Janurary 20 : L. A. Lakers at Orlando : The first time the Lakers visit the Magic. The question is, will Dwight Howard be playing home, or away?
Janurary 29 : Chicago at Miami : A rematch of the Eastern Finals. Crane Rose’s last memory of the Heat is LeBron and Wade fighting back in Chicago and swiping Game 5 when the Bulls had it all but won. These 2 teams will likely be the class of the East and with this being the first meeting of the season, somebody’s going to make a statement.
February 9 : Los Angeles Lakers at Boston : It is the league’s best rivalry, maybe sports ‘ best rivalry. Each Celtics-Lakers game is an event. I don’t think I even need to give you reasons that explain why this game is gigantic.
February 17 : Miami at Cleveland : LeBron returns, again. It’s the third time he’s played in Cleveland since “The Decision” and some of the sting actually has worn off, at least in that fans won’t be purchasing tickets ONLY to yell at LeBron. But you can be absolutely certain that a surprising quantity of Maverick blue will be littered all though Quicken Loans Arena.
February 17 : New Orleans at Big Apple : Take a close look at Chris Paul and wish, Knicks fans, assuming CP3 still is in NOLA. You know he’s a free agent in 2012 and you know he’d look pretty nice alongside Amar’e and Melo. But he’s on the opposite side at the moment and there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to drive you crazy, at least on this night.
February 23 : Lakers at Oklahoma Town : The Lakers always bring out the very best in Thunder fans, and that is announcing something. Kobe, Durant, Westbrook, Bynum, Gasol, Harden, Perkins — the names are there and the games are always good.
March 25 : Miami at Oklahoma Town : LeBron and Kevin Durant. Two of basketballs most pleasurable, explosive skills that are always simple on the eye. The Thunder have consistently been painted as the anti-Heat, but the young children from OKC don’t care about making a statement for the small fella. There might be a good story, but it’s more about a really good Eastern team vs a fairly good Western team.
April 1: Miami at Boston : LeBron and Wade return to the scene of one of their best crimes. It is not precisely a contention, but again, the Heat do not like the Celtics and the Celtics do not enjoy the Heat.
April 15 : Miami at Long Island : The 2 supposed “super” groups meeting in Madison Square Garden with potential Eastern seeding implications? Yes, please. LeBron against Melo is good stuff no matter what, but you can be absolutely certain the Knicks will be making an attempt to push the Heat with a more robust roster by this point.