Tuesday night’s NBA TV show for the unveiling of the 2013-14 regular season schedule was fun for about two minutes. Then everyone went online to find the actual, you know, schedule. We did too in order to bring you the 20 best games to circle on your calendar this coming season.
NBA.com was a bit a slow, but they finally posted the full schedule. More importantly for fans without League Pass (you should really get League Pass), was the national television schedule for games aired on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV. Rather than sift through 1,230 games scheduled next season, we’re bringing you the top 20.
Something to point out before we get started on our own countdown, is this info by way of Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post:
The Lakers make 10 appearances on TNT. The Heat make nine.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) August 6, 2013
There are always going to be weird blips like this one with a Lakers team that could be awful if Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant play their age, or who could be really exciting and make Dwight’s exit a blessing in disguise as they woo potential 2014 free agents with their play.
Regardless, the Lakers are getting 25 nationally televised games this season. But schedule foibles happen every year, so tweeting your angry missives about the overrated Lakers isn’t going to get you anywhere. It’s best to just relax and enjoy the games like the rest of us while hoping Kobe tries to average 40 this season to account for the Achilles tear.
Without further ado, here are the best 20 games to watch during the 2013-14 season.
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20. Heat at Cavaliers 11/27/13 (7:30 pm E.T. ESPN)
Within the first month of the season, we’ll have LeBron’s first game in Cleveland since winning his second championship. Perhaps the Cavs are clearing cap space next summer to make a run at…Chris Bosh, who also has an early termination option next summer. More likely, they’re trying to entice LeBron James back to his roots. We wonder if someone will rock a cheap, homemade t-shirt with a black sharpie message, “we want LeBron 2014″ like last season.
19. Pistons at Bucks 12/4/13 (8:00 pm E.T. League Pass)
Brandon Jennings‘ first trip back to the city and the team that was so happy to ship him out of a town for a point guard, Brandon Knight, that’s not really a point guard. This will only be a little over a month into the season, but it might go a long way towards instilling some confidence in a Pistons team that has lofty goals like the playoffs and possibly even home-court advantage. If they can’t lay the smack down on Jennings’ old crew, perhaps Joe Dumars should look to pull the trigger before the February trade deadline. Bonus points for the thought of an immovable object, Larry Sanders, meets an unstoppable force in the air, Andre Drummond.
18. Pistons at Hawks 11/20/13 (7:30 pm E.T. League Pass)
Josh Smith heads back to Phillips Arena, but he’ll be in an opponents uniform for the first time in his nine-year career. The fan reaction in Atlanta could be any number of things with Smith often the only reason to go to games—it certainly wasn’t Joe Johnson—while also jacking up an off-balance 20-footers with 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Smith’s Dr. Jekyl Mr. Hyde routine might continue in Detroit, or he’ll help improve an already impressive pairing of Greg Monroe and Drummond. This game comes within the first month of the season, and Atlanta should have an easier time adopting Paul Millsap into Smith’s role than Detroit will have incorporating heavy usage players like Monroe, Smith and Jennings into theirs, so look for an Atlanta win. With both Detroit and Atlanta entertaining a very real chance for a mid-conference playoff seeding, this game might have more end-of-season effects than any other game in the season’s first month.