NBA 2023-24 Season Preview

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By Rockin’ Reese

Tonight, the NBA season for 2023-24 will begin. 

A lot of events will happen between now & April 14th (the final day of the regular season). Let’s take a look at the major highlights.

On opening night, there are only 2 games on the schedule & they will be on TNT. The first game of the season will feature the (defending NBA Champion) Denver Nuggets hosting the Los Angeles Lakers. After the rings are presented & the banner is raised, (NBA Finals MVP) Nikola Jokić will take to the court to lead his team against LeBron James.

Jokić is only the 3rd European player to be NBA Finals MVP (Dirk Nowitzki in 2011; Giannis Antetokuonmpo in 2021). James will be only the 6th player to have played 21 NBA seasons (Vince Carter [who played 22], Kevin Willis, and Hall of Famers Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, & Nowitzki were the others). In the other opening night game, the Golden State Warriors will host the Phoenix Suns. This match will be of interest, because (guard) Chris Paul spent the past 3 seasons with the Suns, including his only NBA Finals appearance in 2021. Now, he’ll be joining the “Splash Brothers”…(guard) Stephen Curry & (guard/forward) Klay Thompson.

Making its NBA debut will be the in-season tournament. Starting November 3rd, teams from the western conference will be rearranged into 3 groups (West A, West B, & West C). Each group will have 5 teams, all of whom will play against the other 4 teams in their respective groups. Each team will have 2 home games & 2 road games.

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The same will be done for the eastern conference (East A, East B, & East C). Tournament games will be played on Tuesdays & Fridays, during the group play stage. After group play is over on November 28th, the 3 group winners & 1 wild card team from each conference will advance to a traditional single-elimination tournament, where prize money will be awarded for the remainder of the tournament.

The 4 east teams will be in one bracket, while the 4 west teams will be in the other. On December 4th & 5th, the quarter-finals will happen in the cities of the higher-seeded teams. The semi-finals (December 7th) and finals (December 9th) will be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the finals, it will be the east finalist vs. the west finalist for the NBA Cup.

Also in November, the Orlando Magic will host the Atlanta Hawks at Arena Ciudad de México in Mexico City, Mexico. Though the NBA has played games in Mexico as early as 1992, many of those games were pre-season games. This will be the 13th regular season game played in Mexico City, but the 12th at Mexico City Arena.

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The Magic are 2-1 in that building. They lost a pre-season game to the New Orleans (now, Charlotte) Hornets in October 2012, then defeated the Chicago Bulls (December 13, 2018) & Utah Jazz (December 15, 2018) in regular season games. The Hawks will make their Mexico City debut on November 9th. It should be of note that this is the 3rd international meeting (but 1st regular season game) between these teams. They played a pair of pre-season games at the London Arena in London, England, with the Magic winning on October 30, 1993, then Hawks winning on Halloween.

The Christmas games always bring delight to basketball fans across America. This year’s schedule will start with the New York Knicks hosting the Milwaukee Bucks. Then, the Nuggets will host the Warriors. Game #3 will feature the NBA’s biggest rivalry, as the Lakers host the Boston Celtics. Then, the (reigning Eastern Conference Champion) Miami Heat will host the Philadelphia 76ers, led by (2022-23 NBA MVP) Joel Embiid.

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Finally, the Suns will host the Dallas Mavericks. All 5 games will be on ESPN, with ABC simulcasting the Nuggets-Warriors & Lakers-Celtics games. Speaking of holidays, while the Suns end 2023 hosting the Magic, 2024 begins with the Knicks hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wednesday nights in January, ABC delivers some special prime-time basketball. All games will be at 8:30 ET (7:30 CT, 6:30 MT, 5:30 PT). On January 3rd, the Knicks host the Chicago Bulls. On the 10th, the Warriors host the New Orleans Pelicans. On the 17th, the Lakers host the Mavericks. On the 24th, the San Antonio Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder. On the 31st, the Brooklyn Nets host the Suns. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Nets at Accor Arena in Paris, France on January 11th. This will be the 1st international meeting between these teams. While this will be the 7th NBA game in Paris, it will be only the 3rd regular season game. Every game has been played in this arena (which was previously known as Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy). The Cavaliers have never played in Paris. The Nets (when they were the New Jersey Nets) won an October 2008 pre-season game in Paris by defeating the Heat in overtime.

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A tradition since 1986, the NBA will have their Martin Luther King Jr. Day games. While there are 11 games scheduled for January 15th, there are 4 that will be televised. The 76ers will host the Houston Rockets at 1pm on NBA TV.  The Hawks will host the Spurs at 3:30pm on TNT. The Memphis Grizzlies will host the Warriors, after the Hawks-Spurs game. The Lakers will host the Thunder at 10:30pm on NBA TV.

From January 23rd to the 27th, the NBA will have their 2nd annual “Rivals Week”, where every nationally televised game will feature classic team rivalries or budding rivalries between teams or players. On the 23rd, it will start with the Nets hosting the Knicks, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers hosting the Lakers.

On the 24th, it will be the Spurs-Thunder game I mentioned earlier & the Mavericks hosting the Suns. On the 25th, the Heat will host the Celtics & the Warriors will host the Sacramento Kings. On the 26th, the Hawks will host Mavericks & the Spurs will host the Portland Trail Blazers. On the 27th, the Knicks will host the Heat, the Nuggets will host the 76ers, & (on the season premiere of NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC) the Warriors will host the Lakers.

February 11th is the day when the Super Bowl will be held for the NFL, but it will also be the season premiere of NBA Sunday Showcase. To kick it off, the Heat will host the Celtics. Now, barring this game going multiple overtimes, this game should end in plenty of time for any football fans.

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For the first time since 1985, Indianapolis, IN will host NBA All-Star Weekend. The All-Star Game will take place on February 18th at Gainbridge Fieldhouse (home of the Indiana Pacers). However, there will be events for fans to interact with celebrities and past & present NBA players throughout the weekend at the Indiana Convention Center & at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts).

While the locations for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game & Rising Stars Challenge have yet to be determined for the February 16th activities, Lucas will host the events of All-Star Saturday (skills competition, 3-point shootout, & slam dunk contest) on the 17th.

On February 29th, the Nuggets will host the Heat. This will be the first time that these teams have played each other, since last season’s NBA Finals. They will also see each other in Miami on March 13th. With these meetings late in the season, both teams will want to send each other a message, if a rematch happens in this season’s Finals.

Of course, the final day to look at is April 14th. What will be interesting about this day is that all 30 teams will be playing. With playoff seeding potentially being on the line, it will be a chaotic afternoon for the NBA’s season finale. With the exception of the Detroit Pistons (who will be in San Antonio), all of the eastern conference teams will be playing at 1:00pm. All of the western conference teams will play at 3:30pm, with the Spurs-Pistons game being the only interconference game of the day.

There is your look at the 2023-24 season. Some games may lose importance, by the time they happen, while other games may gain importance. Either way, this NBA season will be guaranteed to be a wild ride.

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