Ten (or so) intriguing games for 2014-15

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, here in 2009, haven't squared off since February 2010 (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, here in 2009, haven’t squared off since February 2010 (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

LeBron James is in Cleveland, Kevin Love soon will be (barring a startling change of direction), and so the eyes of the NBA world will focus there as well, from the very beginning of the season to around the middle and obviously to the bitter/glorious end.

When the Cavaliers go to Rio de Janeiro for an Oct. 11 preseason game, the Heat are the opponent, which should lead to the ultimate in commanding the spotlight: an exhibition game that will generate attention. It’s going to be that kind of 2014-15, with Cleveland dominating the 10 games (or so) to watch that initially jump out with Wednesday’s release of the full NBA schedule for 2014-15 (you can see the full 2014-15 national TV schedule here

HANG TIME: Digging deeper into the 2014-15 schedule

Cavaliers at Heat, Dec. 25, American Airlines Arena, Miami (5 p.m. ET, ABC)

It’s on the Christmas schedule, which is a big deal. It’s James’ first game back in Miami, which is a big deal. Put them together, it’s a very big deal. That goes for hype and network marketing more than anything, because this won’t be like the scorching emotions when LeBron returned to Cleveland for the first time while playing for the Heat. He didn’t just perform open-heart surgery without anesthesia on South Florida. Still, the buildup will be a sight anyway.

Mavericks at Spurs, Oct. 28, AT&T Center, San Antonio, (8 p.m. ET, TNT)

Another season opener, another banner raising. The Spurs get their latest celebration in front of an in-state rival and an opponent hoping to become a primary challenger in the Western Conference following the arrival of Chandler Parsons and the return of Tyson Chandler. Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio machine does not like pageantry. They’ll put up with nights like this, though.

Cavaliers at Timberwolves, Jan. 31, Target Center, Minneapolis (8 ET)

The teams first meet Dec. 23 in Cleveland — a nice schedule stretch for the Cavaliers, with the possible Love reunion game against the Wolves followed by the James reunion game against the Heat –- but the location of this second matchup makes it a much bigger deal. This would be Love as a Twin Cities visitor. This is fans having a chance to get a few things off their chest now that his situation has finally been untangled. If it gets untangled.

Bulls at Knicks, Oct. 29, Madison Square Garden, New York (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

This will be the return of Derrick Rose to the NBA, after the very promising return of Rose to Team USA and the opportunity to build more momentum with the international games before training camp. Because Rose matters so much to the team that could, health willing, become a serious threat in the East, this early read will be valuable. The Chicago start is particularly worth watching since the Bulls’ second game, Oct. 31, is at home against Cleveland.

Clippers at Warriors, Nov. 5, Oracle Arena, Oakland (10:30 ET, ESPN)

Not just this game, but the whole four-game season series, really, including one of the Christmas showcases. The teams had several confrontational moments that threatened to turn ugly last season, then went the full seven games in the first round of the playoffs in a series hijacked by the Donald Sterling mess. It was always a fun matchup. Now it could build into must-see TV, with the twist of L.A. native Steve Kerr new to the Golden State sideline.

Bucks at Nets, Nov. 19, Barclays Center, Brooklyn (7:30 p.m. ET)

Not that New York fans would ordinarily ever try to make life uncomfortable for an opponent, but this time the opponent is ex-Nets coach Jason Kidd, now manning the sidelines for Milwaukee. So the Bucks might want to pack ear plugs. One other bit of advice: This wouldn’t be a good night for Kidd to play the “Hit me” card. Someone not on his own team might take him up on it.

Five games, Dec. 25 (12 p.m. ET – 10: 30 p.m. ET)

The lineup for the Christmas extravaganza: Wizards at Knicks at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN), Thunder at Spurs at 2:30 ET (ABC), Cavaliers at Heat at 5 ET (ABC), Lakers at Bulls at 8 ET (TNT), Warriors at Clippers at 10:30 ET (TNT). Washington becomes a featured attraction around the league, San Antonio and Oklahoma City meet after likely opening the season as the two best teams in the West, LeBron to Miami and much more. Go ahead and just put the TV at the head of the table.

Bulls at Lakers, Jan. 29, Staples Center, Los Angeles (10:30 ET, TNT)

There was no animosity when Pau Gasol left — certainly nothing like the Lakers and the league have seen in other situations — so this game won’t come with much tension around the buildup. But Gasol’s 6 ½ seasons, three All-Star appearances and two championships in Los Angeles counted for a lot, in what the titles meant to the legacy of Kobe Bryant and the push that should land Gasol in the Hall of Fame (especially considering his international play). He will say all the right things about coming back. And, given the direction of the team he left behind, the L.A. fans who were so hard on him would be smart to show some appreciation.

Mavericks at Rockets, Nov. 22, Toyota Center, Houston (8 p.m. ET)

The Parsons exit from Houston as a restricted free agent was not smooth, from the front offices trading jabs to James Harden’s dig about role players to Mark Cuban and Parsons clubbing it the night the offer sheet was signed. With two Texas teams wanting to prove they belong in the upper-echelon of the conference, this would have been a good season series to watch anyway. It just got better.

Bucks at Timberwolves, Nov. 26, Target Center, Minneapolis (8 p.m. ET)

No. 1 draft pick (Andrew Wiggins) against No. 2 (Jabari Parker) was supposed to happen when the Cavaliers played the Bucks. Then came the reported agreement to send Wiggins to Minnesota as part of the James trade. So the draft-related focus shifted to the Twin Cities. The Bucks took Parker with the intention of playing him mostly at power forward, so actual head-to-head matchups may be rare. But this will still be a compare-contrast that will last for years.

36 Comments

  1. derrick rose says:

    I’m back in it’s my time! my team is wining it all this year and it’s nobody who and can stop me

  2. Paul George says:

    I will play this season

  3. PacersDynasty says:

    I wish Paul George were my boyfriend.

  4. Watch out Pacers fans!!! My return coming soon…

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  6. BWorld says:

    Basketball, for a fan like me, is something that I always look forward to watch and hear about…there have been a lot of player movement the past couple of months, which makes lots of intriguing match ups..the Christmas day game between the Heat and Cavaliers will gain much of the attention, but I’m not taking away anything from other match ups like the games between the Spurs vs Thunder as well as the clippers vs warriors and other games around the NBA..

    James has to somehow prove that he is still atop the basketball world even without Wade and Bosh on his side..Irving and Love (if the trade gets untangled), I think is a better trio that James could belong to due to age, but I know for a fact that Wade and Bosh, together with Granger and Deng will make a case for themselves that they are still contenders…

    Other than the heat, James and the Cavs, I’d also like to see how Wiggins carries a franchise, according to Kansas Coach Self, Wiggins can become a better player playing outside the shadow of Lebron..hmm..interesting…I’m also not counting the Knicks out..Melo staying with them (as a big fan of his, I admire him more for doing that), is a great thing…even though it may not work out well this season, I think Phil Jackson will help give them a shot at the title in the next year or two..

    Through it all, we all just have to wait and see how the 2014-2015 season unfolds and who gets to play on June…

  7. vern says:

    Question: How can the NBA fine Toronto for something Drake said but LeBron and the Cavs can talk about Kevin Love all day, every day without penalty??
    I may be wrong but isn’t that tampering?

  8. nahor88 says:

    Parsons got schooled by Trevor Ariza last year, time for it to happen again.

  9. Kenneth Williams says:

    Stop taking off my message its first amendment its all Wizards and Bulls in the east cavs are getting eliminated 1st round and they better hope they dont play bulls or wizards cause they might get swept.

    • Kenneth Williams says:

      I know I got the amendment wrong but you know what I mean maybe if we spent more attention to what schools dont teach anymore and spend less money and time on sports then I would have gotten it right.

  10. Kenneth Williams says:

    I still have heat finishing above Cavs in playoff spots watch those role players in miami make a bigger difference just cause they have the experience and bosh will be like his self of the young days banging in the paint miami still has a better squad than cavs without lebron. Cavs bench are the aarp hall of fame.

    • LBJthaking!!!! says:

      No way. Wher was Bosh and Wade in playoffs? It was Lebron doing evrything himself. I can’t wait to watch the cavs!!!!

  11. Kenneth Williams says:

    You know I wonder how many fans the clippers would have if they all knew the franchise name is a name of model ship that shipped slaves back in the day and you all thought sterling was just evil.

  12. Derrick Rose says:

    Nope,were taking it to chicago

  13. jabari parker says:

    Game over. Bucks will win the title

  14. jabari parker says:

    Yo Andrew wiggins
    you and lebron got none on me.
    I ll make history on you on our match.

  15. Andrew Wiggins says:

    alright i wasnt real, srry for trying to trick u guys, ;( just wanted some attention

  16. chris says:

    wait is he THE andrew wiggins OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG
    you guys know hes not real right?

  17. See red says:

    I hope boozer gets booed in chicago on Christmas at the UC. I for one hope he knows how we all felt about him the past 4 year. ‘Thanks’ for the memories carlos.

  18. harriethehawk says:

    All I know, is that on Christmas Day, I will be at home, watching the first 4 games. It’s gonna be a fun day and I’m marking my date planner!!!!

  19. michael says:

    my boring team will win it again :) gospursgo

  20. JOSEPH FRAEDRICH says:

    oh but the BLAZERS vs ROCKETS wont be exciting at all… the best power forward in the game named ALDRIDGE, the all star phenom point guard named LILLARD… one of the hottest starting fives in the league.

    HOUSTON gets all the attention, even though we both finished with the exact same record, even though we went toe to toe down to one of the most climactic endings in the past dozen years…

    Tired of PORTLAND getting ignored because we are on the west coast… well guess what world, we are even better than last year… SEE YOU ALL VERY SOON!!!

    JF

    • Omar says:

      Your out of your mind if you think Aldridge is the best PF in the game

      • B Roy says:

        Why is he crazy? Plays killer offense AND good defence… Best PF no question.

      • joseph fraedrich says:

        Who’s a better power forward than Aldridge right now? He can bam, defend and has the smoothest turn around jumper since nowitzki…

        ?

  21. mrny718 says:

    That Mavericks vs Rockets game should be really good.

  22. Rockets says:

    rockets vs. blazers or rockets vs. mavs MUST be a Christmas day game….

  23. TheAll-Star136 says:

    The Lakers don’t deserve to be on national television that much.

  24. fatim says:

    Let’s see what the Heat can do without lebron becuz ppl keep saying that he was the best

  25. Andrew Wiggins says:

    I will beat the Cav, Lebron got nothing on me.

  26. Shhhhhh says:

    Ok summer you were great (as always) now get lost so we can have some BBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

  27. Scott says:

    “as part of the James trade”

    Don’t you mean as part of the Kevin Love trade??

    • Jaded says:

      Well.. technically he probably did mean Love. But come on..we all know James forced that trade, so I’d say James trade is just as accurate in a way. Why would they trade away a chance to mold a potential SUPERSTAR to keep them in contention WELL after lebron retires for a win now team. BUT then again maybe I’m just an angry Bulls fan lol