LOOK: Rivalries and returns highlight 2019-20 NBA schedule

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 13, 2019 08:49 AM
LOOK: Rivalries and returns highlight 2019-20 NBA schedule
FILE - TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 29: Tobias Harris #33 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 29, 2019 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA schedule is out, and while the official release details the games on Opening Week, Christmas, and the like, here are just some of the other must-see, marquee matchups that dot the 2019-20 calendar.

(All dates in Philippine time)

Coaching Comebacks

Sacramento Kings vs LA Lakers

Nov. 16 @ LAL
Feb. 2 @ SAC
Apr. 5 @ SAC
Apr. 15 @ LAL

We didn't get a whole lot of Coach X going from Team A to Team B last season, usually a great source of drama as the bench tactician looks to get one over his old team (See: Dwane Casey against the Raptors last season), but there is one big exception: Luke Walton.

It seemed like a matter of "when" rather than "if" that Walton would get bounce from his spot as Lakers head coach last season when the franchise added LeBron James. To his credit, he lasted the whole season (though there was plenty of drama in-between), before taking his talents north to the capital of California.

Walton looking to upset the Lake Show is just one thread to follow. There's the fact that the Kings are looking to position themselves as a rising Western Conference power, plus, they also finished with two more wins than LA last season. And of course, who wouldn't want a resumption of the early 00's rivalry between these two squads?

Young Guns

New Orleans Pelicans vs Memphis Grizzlies

Jan. 21 @ MEM
Feb. 1 @ NOP

New Orleans Pelicans vs New York Knicks

Jan. 11 @ NYK
Mar. 28 @ NOP

The future is bright for the Pelicans and the Grizzlies, two teams rebuilding in different fashions, but similarly boosted thanks to getting one of the top two picks in this year's draft. The Pelicans landed Zion Williamson, plus a boatload of young players and picks, courtesy of the Lakers, then added some top-notch veteran talent to help aid their transition. The Grizzlies on the other hand moved up in the lottery and nabbed Ja Morant, which made it easier for them to part ways with franchise stalwart Mike Conley. Since that trade, their new front office has been more sly than a fox, landing quality youngsters (Tyus Jones, De'Anthony Melton) and using their cap space to extract picks and assets (taking on Andre Iguodala's deal, for example). Which team will return to the Playoffs first? This could be an early preview of that.

On the flip side, the Knicks cleared cap space, and crossed their fingers that the basketball gods would reward them in the lottery. Spoiler: it didn't happen. Instead, they settled for #3 overall choice RJ Barrett, and opted to use their money on a bunch of power forwards. New York is still ways off from both NOP and MEM in terms of long-term success, but at least we'll (hopefully) get two full games between the former Duke teammates, after their Summer League meeting was interrupted by injury (to Zion) and an earthquake.

Hail the champs

Toronto Raptors banner raising - versus New Orleans Pelicans

Oct. 23 @ TOR

Yes Toronto, you're not dreaming, you did actually win the NBA title in early June! The team will get their rings and raise their banner on opening day, before taking on Zion and the Pelicans.

Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors

Mar. 6 @ GSW
Mar. 17 @ TOR

Unfortunately, due to free agency, the two Finals rematches won't have as much juice as they could have had. Kawhi Leonard is no longer a Raptor, and we really won't get more than a quarter and a few minutes of KD-as-a-Warrior against the North. Still, the games being in March probably means Klay Thompson will be back from his injury, so these two encounters should still pack some punch.

They're baaaaaack

After an offseason that featured a large amount of player movement, it's clear we're either going to get a lot of tribute videos, or a lot of booing, possibly both, when these superstar return to their old haunts.

Mike Conley Jr. (UTA) returns to Memphis - Nov. 16

Jimmy Butler (MIA) returns to Philadelphia - Nov. 24

Kemba Walker (BOS) returns to Charlotte - Nov. 8

Anthony Davis (LAL) returns to New Orleans - Nov. 28

Paul George (LAC) returns to Oklahoma City - Dec. 23

Kawhi Leonard (LAC) returns to Toronto - Dec. 12

Russell Westbrook (HOU) returns to Oklahoma City - Jan. 10

Kyrie Irving (BRK) returns to Boston - Nov. 28

Al Horford (PHI) returns to Boston - Dec. 13

Kristaps Porzingis (DAL) returns to New York - Nov. 15

Best of the West?

Golden State Warriors vs LA Lakers

Nov. 14 @ LAL
Feb. 9 vs LAL
Feb. 28 vs LAL
Apr. 10 @ LAL

It won't have the same fervor as last season, but Stephen Curry versus LeBron James is always going to be good.

Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers

Nov. 5 vs POR
Dec. 19 @ POR
Jan. 21 @ POR
Apr. 14 vs POR

A rematch of the Western Conference Finals, perhaps things will be closer now with Kevin Durant gone and Klay Thompson sidelined for at least the first two encounters. On paper, Curry/D'Angelo Russell versus Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum looks a lot more even.

LA Clippers vs LA Lakers

Oct. 23 vs LAL
Dec. 26 @ LAL
Jan. 29 @ LAL
Mar. 9 vs LAL

The battle for the City of Angels and Hollywood supremacy! Easily one of the most exciting match-ups this season.

Best of the East?

Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors

Nov. 26 @ TOR
Dec. 9 vs TOR
Jan. 23 @ TOR
Mar. 19 vs TOR

The Toronto Raptors got four big bounces to eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers from postseason contention earlier this year. Now, Philly will be looking for revenge against the Kawhi-less Canada side.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Milwaukee Bucks

Dec. 26 vs MIL
Feb. 7 @ MIL
Feb. 23 @ MIL
Apr. 8 vs MIL

With possible apologies to the defending champions, 76ers vs. Bucks seems to be the favorite matchup for next year's Eastern Conference Finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo versus Joel Embiid will be fun, but both sides made major tweaks to their supporting cast, so it'll be interesting to see how this one will play out.

New York Knicks vs Brooklyn Nets

Oct. 26 @ BKN
Nov. 25 vs BKN
Dec. 27 @ BKN
Jan. 27 vs BKN

Now, misleading header aside, New York versus Brooklyn just hasn't been a real rivalry...until perhaps now. Brooklyn was able to have a much better offseason, landing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, among other moves, but who knows? If the Knicks manage to win this series, perhaps they're further along the road to redemption than we thought.

Which conference reigns supreme?

LA Lakers vs Boston Celtics

Jan. 21 @ BOS
Feb. 24 vs BOS

These two teams have a long and storied rivalry, but gained another chapter or two beginning last season around the trade deadline, when both sides were gunning to acquire Anthony Davis. In the end, it was LA that landed the big man, while Boston was forced to pivot, after Kyrie Irving walked during the offseason. It'll be the established duo of Davis and LeBron James, going up against the young guns of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and that's certainly going to be worth watching.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets

Oct. 25 @ HOU
Mar. 26 vs HOU

Giannis Antetokounmpo took home the 2018-19 MVP award, but you could certainly make the case (and Rockets Twitter definitely did) that James Harden deserved back-to-back plumes. Well, they can decide things on the court anew, when the Bucks and Rockets clash next season.

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