The National Basketball Association released their full 2018-19 game schedule Friday. Here are some matchups you want to mark on the calendar, in no particular order.
Rockets vs Lakers
October 20, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN
The LA-Bron era begins as 2017-18 MVP James Harden and the Rockets had to LA for LeBron James’ Staples Center debut in the purple and gold.
Raptors vs Spurs
January 3, 8:00 PM ET, TNT
Kawhi Leonard will return to San Antonio in January for the first time since being traded to the Raptors this offseason. Many see the Raptors as a contender in the seemingly-weakened East, and the Spurs are widely counted out of the Western Conference Playoff race (but not by The Bench Sports writer Dylan Hoover).
Spurs vs Raptors
February 22, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN
Of course, DeMar DeRozan’s return to Toronto is one of the most anticipated player-return scenarios of this upcoming season. DeRozan was reportedly blindsided by being traded to San Antonio, and was very committed to staying in Toronto long-term.
Lakers vs Cavs
November 21, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN
The King makes his return to The Land just before Thanksgiving. Even though he left the Cavs for a second time, this exit seemed nowhere near as sour as the first, and I expect a tribute video, standing ovation, cheers when he scores, a key to the city, and lots of powder being thrown in the air before/during/after this matchup.
Warriors vs Rockets
November 15 (in Houston): 8:00 PM ET, TNT
January 3 (in Oakland): 10:30 PM ET, TNT
Februrary 23 (in Oakland): 8:30 PM ET, ABC
This rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals thriller will not only happen three times this season before the playoffs, but should be even more exciting with DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Warriors this season and with Carmelo Anthony agreeing to sign with the Rockets.
Rockets vs Thunder
November 8, 8:00 PM ET, TV TBA
Carmelo Anthony makes his return to Oklahoma City in November after being traded to Atlanta, then bought out of his contract to sign with the Rockets.
Rockets vs Hawks
March 19, 7:30 PM ET, TV TBA
I expect some pretty funny stuff from the Hawks as Carmelo Anthony is in the house for the first time since being a Hawk for a hot second. The team even sent him his own Hawks jersey for his brief stint with the team.