NBA Schedule Release: The Most Anticipated Games Of The Season

Los Angeles Lakers v LA Clippers

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Anthony Davis (L) and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers arrive at a game between the Lakers and the LA Clippers during the 2019 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 6, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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The days of the Golden State Warriors versus the Eastern Conference are over. After free agency stirred a league-wide upheaval this summer, the NBA's balance of power is still to be settled, and the regular season will see new-found importance. The 82-game slate will not only determine playoff seeding and advantages, but also provide a litmus test for potential post-season matchups.

The NBA released the schedule for the 2019-2020 season Monday. The season starts on Oct. 22 with a doubleheader featuring the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Toronto Raptors, and the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers tipping off the battle for Southern California.

Here are the most anticipated games of the upcoming season. Set your calendar alerts.

Celebrated Debuts

Oct. 22, Lakers at Clippers: This will be our first look at Anthony Davis on the Lakers with LeBron James and the new-look Clippers with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The season opens up with a hallway rivalry that will define much of the season. These teams meet again on Christmas Day.

Oct. 22, New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors: Zion Williamson almost-literally brought the house down in his Earth-shaking NBA debut during Las Vegas Summer League. On the opening night, the league puts him on a national stage versus the defending champs.

Oct. 24, Clippers at Golden State Warriors: The Clippers will help the Warriors open up the brand-new, $1 billion Chase Center in San Francisco, launching lightyears ahead into a new era post-Kevin Durant.

Hello, Old Friend

Nov. 14, Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis will return to New York for his first game since demanding a trade last season. The intrigue here is how Knicks fans welcome him. With boos for wanting out? With empathetic cheers because he's not James Dolan? How will it compare to when the Knicks drafted him in 2015?

Nov. 27, Lakers at Pelicans: On the day before Thanksgiving, Davis returns to the Pelicans hoping, at that point, he'll have a lot to be thankful for.

Nov. 27, Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics: Unlike Knicks fans and Porzingis, we know exactly how Celtics fans will react to Kyrie Irving's return. They'll be booing him to the edge of the planet and back.

Dec. 11, Clippers at Raptors: Leonard's return to The North, where he once conquered before riding South.

Dec. 18, Miami Heat at 76ers: Jimmy Butler returns to the Sixers team he spurned for Miami.

Dec. 22, Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul George's first game back in Oklahoma City since demanding a trade to team up with Leonard in LA.

Jan. 9, Rockets at Thunder: Russell Westbrook returns to the franchise he once controlled so much that he reportedly determined what the vending machines carried. You think they'll still be carrying his recommendations?

Attention-Worthy Litmus Tests

Oct. 24, Bucks at Rockets: A potential NBA Finals preview just a couple of nights into the regular season featuring last season's MVP and MVP runner up. In total, this game will feature three MVP trophy carriers.

Oct. 30, Clippers at Utah Jazz: After adding Mike Conley and making other sensible free-agent additions this summer, the Jazz are this year's non-dark-horse dark horse. Many consider them title contenders. To do that, they'll need Donovan Mitchell to go to another level. Being guarded by the trio of Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley will be the ultimate stress test.

Nov. 6, Warriors at Rockets: After having met in four of the last five postseasons, this matchup will have a dramatically different look this season. Subtract Durant, Andre Iguodala and Chris Paul, add D'Angelo Russell and Westbrook. With Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni, Stephen Curry and James Harden, Draymond Green and PJ Tucker, there's an intriguing mix of old and new that should give this rivalry a refreshing makeover.

Nov. 13, Clippers at Rockets: Harden and Westbrook versus Leonard and George. On the court, this matchup checks all the boxes, with two isolation-savants in Harden and Leonard, two overwhelming ball handlers on the Rockets, two lockdown defenders on the Clippers, and two former teammates partnered for about as long as an average celebrity marriage.

Nov. 20, Rockets at Denver Nuggets: After all the excitement this summer, it can be hard to remember that Denver finished with the best record in the Western Conference last season. Not much has changed as the Nuggets decided to double down on a young group by extending the contract of guard Jamal Murray and expecting another leap from All-Star center Nikola Jokic.

Dec. 25, Bucks at 76ers: A Christmas Day matchup that features, by many accounts, the two favorites in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers acquired Al Horford during the offseason. Will that added size and defensive versatility be enough to stop reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo?

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The days of the Golden State Warriors versus the Eastern Conference are over. After free agency stirred a league-wide upheaval this summer, the NBA's balance of power is still to be settled, and the regular season will see new-found importance. The 82-game slate will not only determine playoff seeding and advantages, but also provide a litmus test for potential post-season matchups.

The NBA released the schedule for the 2019-2020 season Monday. The season starts on Oct. 22 with a doubleheader featuring the New Orleans Pelicans visiting the Toronto Raptors, and the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers tipping off the battle for Southern California.

Here are the most anticipated games of the upcoming season. Set your calendar alerts.

Celebrated Debuts

Oct. 22, Lakers at Clippers: This will be our first look at Anthony Davis on the Lakers with LeBron James and the new-look Clippers with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The season opens up with a hallway rivalry that will define much of the season. These teams meet again on Christmas Day.

Oct. 22, New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors: Zion Williamson almost-literally brought the house down in his Earth-shaking NBA debut during Las Vegas Summer League. On the opening night, the league puts him on a national stage versus the defending champs.

Oct. 24, Clippers at Golden State Warriors: The Clippers will help the Warriors open up the brand-new, $1 billion Chase Center in San Francisco, launching lightyears ahead into a new era post-Kevin Durant.

Hello, Old Friend

Nov. 14, Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis will return to New York for his first game since demanding a trade last season. The intrigue here is how Knicks fans welcome him. With boos for wanting out? With empathetic cheers because he's not James Dolan? How will it compare to when the Knicks drafted him in 2015?

Nov. 27, Lakers at Pelicans: On the day before Thanksgiving, Davis returns to the Pelicans hoping, at that point, he'll have a lot to be thankful for.

Nov. 27, Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics: Unlike Knicks fans and Porzingis, we know exactly how Celtics fans will react to Kyrie Irving's return. They'll be booing him to the edge of the planet and back.

Dec. 11, Clippers at Raptors: Leonard's return to The North, where he once conquered before riding South.

Dec. 18, Miami Heat at 76ers: Jimmy Butler returns to the Sixers team he spurned for Miami.

Dec. 22, Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder: Paul George's first game back in Oklahoma City since demanding a trade to team up with Leonard in LA.

Jan. 9, Rockets at Thunder: Russell Westbrook returns to the franchise he once controlled so much that he reportedly determined what the vending machines carried. You think they'll still be carrying his recommendations?

Attention-Worthy Litmus Tests

Oct. 24, Bucks at Rockets: A potential NBA Finals preview just a couple of nights into the regular season featuring last season's MVP and MVP runner up. In total, this game will feature three MVP trophy carriers.

Oct. 30, Clippers at Utah Jazz: After adding Mike Conley and making other sensible free-agent additions this summer, the Jazz are this year's non-dark-horse dark horse. Many consider them title contenders. To do that, they'll need Donovan Mitchell to go to another level. Being guarded by the trio of Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley will be the ultimate stress test.

Nov. 6, Warriors at Rockets: After having met in four of the last five postseasons, this matchup will have a dramatically different look this season. Subtract Durant, Andre Iguodala and Chris Paul, add D'Angelo Russell and Westbrook. With Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni, Stephen Curry and James Harden, Draymond Green and PJ Tucker, there's an intriguing mix of old and new that should give this rivalry a refreshing makeover.

Nov. 13, Clippers at Rockets: Harden and Westbrook versus Leonard and George. On the court, this matchup checks all the boxes, with two isolation-savants in Harden and Leonard, two overwhelming ball handlers on the Rockets, two lockdown defenders on the Clippers, and two former teammates partnered for about as long as an average celebrity marriage.

Nov. 20, Rockets at Denver Nuggets: After all the excitement this summer, it can be hard to remember that Denver finished with the best record in the Western Conference last season. Not much has changed as the Nuggets decided to double down on a young group by extending the contract of guard Jamal Murray and expecting another leap from All-Star center Nikola Jokic.

Dec. 25, Bucks at 76ers: A Christmas Day matchup that features, by many accounts, the two favorites in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers acquired Al Horford during the offseason. Will that added size and defensive versatility be enough to stop reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo?

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I joined Forbes as an NBA contributor in 2019. Previously, I covered the league at FanSided, and my byline has been featured at Bleacher Report, DIME, San Jose Mercury N...