The NBA’s 8 spiciest revenge games on 2023-2024 schedule release

It was only a few months ago that the Denver Nuggets claimed their first championship in franchise history as superstar center Nikola Jokic officially stamped himself as the best basketball player in the world. Since then, the NBA has seen a staggering Bradley Beal trade to the Phoenix Suns, the arrival of Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 overall draft pick, and revamped rosters around the league following free agency.

A new NBA season officially begins in mid Oct., and now we know the schedule for every team in the upcoming 2023-2024 season.

The 82-game regular season is a marathon for everyone involved, but certain matchups are more compelling than others. Here’s a look at the eight spiciest games on the new NBA slate, with a focus on star players visiting their former teams, matchups between top draft picks, and teams currently involved in trade rumors that still haven’t been completed.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Miami Heat, Feb. 27, TNT

The biggest ongoing storyline in the NBA is Damian Lillard’s trade demand. The long-time Trail Blazers superstar told his team he only wants to play for the Miami Heat, but to this point the two sides have yet to work out a deal. Whether Lillard gets traded to Miami or stays with Portland, this game is going to be must-see TV with the whole world knowing where Dame really wants to be. No one expects Lillard to hold out or tank his own play if he doesn’t get his wish before the season, but it will be fascinating to see how Lillard handles all the attention of this matchup regardless of the outcome of his trade demand.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet addresses media a day after the Toronto Raptors fall to the Chicago Bulls 109-105 in the NBA play-in game

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Toronto Raptors vs. Houston Rockets, Feb. 9

Fred VanVleet went from an undrafted free agent to an NBA champion and All-Star with the Toronto Raptors. Most expected VanVleet to return to the Raptors as he hit free agency this summer, but instead the veteran point guard took a massive bag to sign with the Houston Rockets. VanVleet’s three-year, $130 million contract was arguably the most stunning move of the offseason, both in terms of the price tag and the impact for a rising young team in Houston. The Rockets badly needed improved point guard play this season, and VanVleet gives them a floor general who can pass his teammates open and rip pull-up threes. Toronto is going to miss him.

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite

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San Antonio Spurs vs. Charlotte Hornets, Dec. 28

The last time Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson faced off, the NBA stopped for a thrilling preseason showcase between the top draft prospects. Wembanyama would go No. 1 overall to the San Antonio Spurs, while Henderson will be the new face of the Portland Trail Blazers after becoming the third overall pick. The two players couldn’t look more different — Wembanyama is a historically tall, long, and thin center, while Henderson is a jacked 6’2 guard — and that makes the matchup even more fun. Can Wemby contain Scoot when he switches out on the perimeter. Can Henderson beat Victor at the rim when he attacks the basket? Wembanyama’s French team vs. Henderson’s G League Ignite team was truly one of the most fun made-for-TV matchups in recent memory, and their pro debut should be just as captivating.

Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Five

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat, Oct. 30

The Miami Heat’s shocking run to the 2023 NBA Finals started with an upset no one saw coming. The No. 8 seed Heat defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs to set the stage for one of the great Cinderella runs in league history. The Bucks are back and expected to be a championship contender with new head coach Adrian Griffin, while Miami returns most of last year’s core while waiting to see if they can land Lillard. Whether Dame is in Miami black and red or not, the Bucks will want to prove they’re the team to beat in the East, and that last season’s series loss was an aberration.

Memphis Grizzlies Introduce Marcus Smart Presser

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Boston Celtics, Feb. 4

Marcus Smart seemed destined to spend his whole career with the Celtics. Instead, the franchise traded him as part of a three-team deal that landed Kristaps Porzingis in Boston and Smart in Memphis. Smart’s return to Boston will feature so many emotions on both sides. The Boston fans loved Smart for his hustle, toughness, and ability to make winning plays. Smart will want nothing more than to stick it to the franchise that traded him. You know Smart will save up some special flops for this matchup. We can’t wait to see it.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Five

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New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, Oct. 31

It’s almost hard to remember that the Cavaliers won 51 games last season as one of the NBA’s youngest teams after their humiliating playoff debate against the Knicks. Cleveland entered the series with homecourt advantage, but was quickly dismissed in five games as New York looked bigger, stronger, and more organized. The Cavs dream of making a big run with Donovan Mitchell leading the way this season, but they will have to prove they can get past their Knicks demons first. Cleveland added some shooters over the offseason in Max Strus and Georges Niang, but New York won’t be scared after the way they dismantled them in the first round.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors

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Washington Wizards vs. Golden State Warriors, Dec. 22

The Warriors opened their championship defense last year with Draymond Green knocking out Jordan Poole at practice. It was mostly all downhill from there, with the Warriors never really finding their footing all season before being eliminated in the second round by the Lakers. Poole was traded to the Washington Wizards over the offseason, while Green signed a lucrative multi-year extension. You know both players are going to be ready to go for their first matchup as opponents. Will Poole try to isolate on Green on the perimeter? Will Green try to impose his physicality on his younger teammate? The trash talk potential here is through the roof.

Houston Rockets vs. Boston Celtics, Jan 13

Ime Udoka led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2022. Months later, he was banished from the team for having an intimate relationship with a co-worker. After a year away, Udoka has landed with the Houston Rockets, where he’s tasked with helping a young team go from rebuilding to competing for a playoff spot. With questions still circling around young Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, this first matchup will be a fascinating contrast in coaching styles and approaches.

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