NBA games consistently offer fast-paced gameplay, unrivaled talent and some of the most intense rivalries in professional sports. After the 2023 postseason became the most-watched NBA playoffs in five years, it’s clear that basketball fans are catching on now more than ever.
For the 2023–24 regular season, the NBA has planned its most ambitious innovation in years with the introduction of the league’s first In-Season Tournament. However, as the game continues to evolve, its many, annually-anticipated matchups will remain the same. Check out our list of some of the NBA’s most exciting games for the 2023–2024 season.
The California rivalry between these two teams has only intensified after the Warriors’ four-time Finals opponent LeBron James joined the Lakers in 2018. The two teams have since traded championships with the Lakers representing the Western Conference and ultimately beating the Miami HEAT in 2020, followed by the Warriors besting the Boston Celtics in 2022.
For the 2022–23 season, the Warriors and Lakers appeared to be evenly matched once again, finishing the regular season records only one game apart with Golden State at 44-38 and Los Angeles at 43-39. The Warriors and Lakers met in the postseason at the Western Conference semifinals as sixth and seventh seeds, respectively, and the Lakers emerged victorious in the series, 4-2.
The Pacific Division rivalry will continue into the 2023–24 season with their first Western Conference semifinal rematch of the regular season on January 27 as part of the NBA’s second consecutive Rivals Week. They’ll play four times total throughout the regular season, with the final game on April 9.
The rivalry between the Miami HEAT and Boston Celtics was born in the early 2010’s amongst several postseason battles of each team’s “Big 3” lineups. After simmering through the end of the decade, the feud was reignited in 2020 when the HEAT, led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and the Celtics, led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, met in the Eastern Conference finals, with the HEAT advancing to the NBA Finals. The Celtics got their revenge with an Eastern Conference finals victory over the HEAT in 2022.
The HEAT and the Celtics returned to the Eastern Conference finals following the 2022–23 regular season, where the HEAT held a 44-38 record and ranked as the eighth seed while the Celtics exceeded with a 57-25 record and second seed placement. In the close, seven-game series, the HEAT once again took the conference crown to their second finals appearance of the ’20s.
The 2023–24 season will host three games between the Eastern Conference’s most fiery competitors, including a Rivals Week matchup on January 25. Their first meeting in October will also mark the first game between 2022 and 2023 recipients of the Sixth Man of the Year Award, the HEAT’s Tyler Herro and the Celtics’ Malcolm Brogdon.
Standing as the NBA’s most historic rivalry, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have sparred as far back as the inception of the league in the 1940s and their rivalry has continued with each team trading eras of dynastic dominance between the decades. Though the rivalry has never quite reached the heights of the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson heyday of the 1980s and their last NBA Finals matchup occurring in 2010, the Lakers and the Celtics remain bonded in their pursuit of the league’s most elusive distinction as both are tied for most NBA championships at 17 apiece.
During the 2022–23 regular season, Boston added two more wins to their all-time regular season record against Los Angeles, at 165-133. The Celtics ended the season with a 57-25 record ahead of the Lakers’ 43-39, though both teams advanced to their respective Conference finals and ultimately lost.
The next chapter of the Lakers and Celtics’ mutual legacy awaits as they face off twice throughout the 2023–24 season. Notably, the interference matchup has been given special attention with one of the NBA’s coveted Christmas Day game slots.
The Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets represent two wildly different sides of the Western Conference going into the 2023–24 season. For the Suns, the new year serves as a proving ground for the retooled powerhouse featuring Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton, as well as offseason additions like Bradley Beal and head coach Frank Vogel. The Nuggets, led by two-time MVP Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray, will look to defend their title as reigning NBA champions.
Throughout the 2020s, the Suns and the Nuggets have traded achievements. After the Suns notched the highest regular season record during the 2021–22 season, the Nuggets followed up with a Western Conference-best 53-29 record in 2022–23. Last season culminated in the statistically competitive opponents meeting in the Western Conference semifinals, where the Nuggets ultimately took the series in six games.
The Suns will have the opportunity to settle the score, and potentially take back the regular season record title, with three matchups against the Nuggets throughout the 2023–24 season.
The Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors got their first taste of the long-building rivalry between California teams in the postseason during the 2023 playoffs, and after a thrilling, seven-game series in the Western Conference first round, there’s no question that both are hungry for more. Fans will get their fill as the Pacific Division opponents are scheduled to meet four times throughout the 2023–24 season, including one game in the Group Play round of the inaugural In-Season Tournament, as well as a matchup during the NBA’s second consecutive Rivals Week in January.
Coming into this season, the Sacramento Kings will attempt to build on a breakout year in which they ranked third in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record, made their first postseason appearance in 16 years and earned multiple regular season awards, including Coach of the Year for Mike Brown, Executive of the Year for general manager and president Monte McNair and Clutch Player of the Year for De’Aaron Fox (the first ever recipient of the award).
Meanwhile, the Warriors will return with new firepower in 12-time All-Star Chris Paul and attempt to best the previous season’s 44-38 regular season record and Western Conference semifinals exit.
The rivalry between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks is a tale of two cities that spans across most major sports leagues in the country. The Midwest opponents, though close in proximity, have largely operated on different tracks since their heated regional battles in the early ’70s.
That changed when both teams began to peak in the early 2020s, thanks to the Bucks’ two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bulls’ All-Star duo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. The Bucks won the NBA Finals in 2021, but faced opposition from the Bulls in the following year’s postseason as they met in the 2022 Eastern Conference first round and won, 4-1. However, the teams split two games apiece throughout the 2022–23 season, keeping their all-time regular season record remarkably balanced at 134-129 with a slight Bulls advantage.
For the 2023–24 regular season, the Bulls and the Bucks will compete four times between November and March as they vye for the Eastern Conference crown.
Mark another round in a Battle of the Boroughs as the New York Knicks face off against the Brooklyn Nets four times throughout the 2023–24 regular season. The first matchup between the neighboring NBA rivals will take place on December 20 at Barclays Center, followed by a designated Rivals Week game on January 23 at Barclays Center and two meetings at Madison Square Garden in March and April.
Despite the lack of an extensive postseason history between the Knicks and the Nets (their last playoff series took place in 2004), the two New York teams have maintained a fierce rivalry with similarly competitive performances throughout the years. At the end of the 2022–23 season, the Knicks landed the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 47-35, while the Nets lagged just behind at the sixth seed with a 45-37 record.
The teams split wins with two apiece in the last season, but Brooklyn narrowly holds the edge for their all-time regular season series at 107-103.
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Texas’ I-35 Rivalry will assuredly turn a corner in the 2023–24 season when the Dallas Mavericks aim to rebound from their unexpected down year and the San Antonio Spurs return with the debut of 2023’s highly-coveted first overall draft pick, Victor Wembanyama. The anticipation behind both teams could not be more evident than with their opening night faceoff on October 25, followed by three more matchups through March.
The Mavericks will be led by four-time All-Star Luka Dončić and newly-re-signed point guard Kyrie Irving, who joined the team in early 2023. Despite advancing to the Western Conference finals in 2022, they slipped out of playoff contention the following season with a 38-44 record. However, they did best their Southwest Division rivals the Spurs in the three of their four meetings.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are bent on reversing their recent fortunes, which included snapping a league-record 22 consecutive seasons making the playoffs in 2020. At the end of the 2022–23 season, the Spurs found themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference with a record of 22-60. Under legendary coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs will attempt to mount a comeback with Wembanyama and fellow additions like Cameron Payne, Cedi Osman and Reggie Bullock (whom they received in a trade from the Mavericks).
The East Coast rivalry between Philadelphia and New York extends across all of the big four American sports leagues, and there’s plenty of history between two of the NBA’s oldest franchises. Although both teams have typically avoided each other’s respective postseason paths, their waves of success have largely remained in sync all the way to their latest, late 2010s peak.
The 2022–23 season was a boon for both teams as the 76ers reached the third seed in the Eastern Conference with a 54-28 regular season record while the Knicks followed closely behind with a fifth-seed ranking and 47-35 record. They each ultimately fell in separate series but the 76ers earned an added distinction as All-Star center Joel Embiid was awarded his first regular season MVP.
For the 2023–24 season, the 76ers, under new head coach Nick Nurse, will take on the Knicks’ budding trio of Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson four times starting in January and culminating with back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden in March.
The 2023–24 season will host two rematch games of the 2023 NBA Finals between the Miami HEAT and reigning champions the Denver Nuggets. The matchups will surely come with high anticipation, considering the teams last met when the Nuggets narrowly defeated the HEAT, 94-89, in Game 5 of the Finals to win the title.
The HEAT will likely face their Mile High opponents on more equal footing compared to the previous season, in which they entered the playoffs as the eighth seed, fought through the Play-In Tournament and beat the odds in three consecutive underdog matchups to reach the Finals.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets, led by Finals MVP Nikola Jokić and core players Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, Jr. and Aaron Gordon, will look to protect their first and only NBA title. The sky’s the limit as they also endeavor to surpass last year’s Western Conference-best record of 53-29.
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