After a busy and notable free-agent period, the NBA continues to whet the appetite of its fans by releasing the schedule for the 2016-17 season.
NBA.com unveiled the entire schedule for the 2016-17 season, featuring all 2,460 regular-season matchups.
The first day of action will take place on October 25, with three games that will be highlighted by the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers taking on the New York Knicks.
As is always the case with the NBA schedule, Christmas Day features five huge games, including the Cavaliers taking on the Golden State Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch and the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.
The most-anticipated game on the schedule features Kevin Durant‘s return to Oklahoma City as a member of the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 11.
There were small rumblings last season about the Warriors being a potential landing spot for Durant, but it always seemed like the Thunder would present too many good reasons for him to leave the franchise he helped turn into an NBA power.
When LeBron James originally left Cleveland for Miami after the 2010 season, he spurned a city that worshiped him in the worst possible way by using the now infamous and quickly overused line about taking his talents to South Beach.
Durant did not make that kind of spectacle out of his decision to leave, even praising Oklahoma City in his article that ran on the Players Tribune:
There will be backlash and loud boos from the fans in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, marking the first time in Durant’s career that he has been a villain.
The Warriors have rapidly become the evil face of basketball. They are the super team with Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, KlayThompson and Andre Iguodala forming the nucleus that has to deliver a championship right away or this season will be considered a bigger flop even than last year’s loss to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals after winning 73 games during the regular season.
While a lot of hype will be surrounding the matchup between the Warriors and Thunder, there are no shortage of games to keep an eye on.
If we are talking about returns, Dwyane Wade‘s trip to Miami on Nov. 10 as a member of the Chicago Bulls will certainly be memorable. The 12-time All-Star is almost certain to get a warm reception from the Heat fans.
Heat president Pat Riley told reporters (via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel) in July when talking about the team’s offseason that the situation with Wade “floored me. I’m not trying to fall on the sword for anybody. I have great regret that I didn’t immerse myself in the middle of it.”
It’s rare that a beloved sports figure leaves a team in free agency yet still manages to come out of it looking like a hero. Wade was able to do that because Riley has openly acknowledged that he should have made a better effort to keep the best player in franchise history.
The San Antonio Spurs will play their first game without Tim Duncan as a member of the roster since April 20, 1997 when they open this season on Oct. 25 against the Golden State Warriors. The Los Angeles Lakers have turned their franchise over to D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram now that Kobe Bryant has retired.
This summer was one of the most memorable transition periods in NBA history, with so many legendary players either changing teams or retiring. It’s left a lot of questions about the league’s future, though it will all be fascinating and exciting to watch when the games begin.