NBA schedule: 10 marquee games to watch next season

Bruce Bennett

With so much drama in the offseason, there will be plenty more action on the court next season. Here are 10 games to circle on the 2013-14 NBA calendar.

The NBA announced its schedule for the 2013-14 season on Tuesday and, as expected, there are several games that will be must-see television for any NBA fan.

With so many intriguing storylines taking place during the offseason, it's safe to assume that much of the summer's drama will carry over into the season. That's good news for everyone when it comes to entertainment value.

With that in mind, here are 10 games that headline the season's action, beginning with the defending champs:

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat, Oct. 29, 2013, 8 p.m., TNT

The season will get started the right way with Derrick Rose and the Bulls traveling to South Florida to face the Heat in a game that will test both teams early on. For the Bulls, they'll see how they measure up against the best, presumably starting at full strength given Rose's clean bill of health after missing the entire 2012-13 season with a torn ACL.

The Heat will look to put a stamp on their title and show that they're still the reigning champions until someone unseats them. It's apropos in terms of starting the season off right.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Oct. 29, 2013, 10:30 p.m., TNT

The L.A. city crown might not be much of a contest next season. This time around, the odds appear to be stacked in the Clippers' favor. The Lakers have a number of question marks surrounding new personnel, head coach Mike D'Antoni and, of course, the health of Kobe Bryant. On the other side of the hall at Staples Center, Chris Paul and Doc Rivers united during the offseason to form a formidable duo capable of moving the Clips into the upper echelon among Western Conference teams.

No matter what the circumstances are, this figures to be a great game that will cap opening night in Hollywood fashion.

New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets, Dec. 5, 2013, 7 p.m., TNT

The Nets will host the Knicks at Barclays Center in the first of four head-to-head matchups that could have a major stake in determining the winner of the Atlantic Division. Both teams will be hungry coming off postseason appearances in 2012-13, and each has a very real opportunity to unseat the Heat as the best team in the East. They'll get several chances to beat each other up a little bit in the East Coast's version of an inter-city rivalry before that happens, however.

Clippers vs. Boston Celtics, Dec. 11, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

While this game currently isn't on national TV, you can bet Doc Rivers' return to Boston as the enemy will be hyped. The circumstances surrounding his departure were so bizarre that anything can happen with respect to his reception. Fans who bleed green will undoubtedly always respect Rivers for his part in bringing them banner No. 17, but he's got the wrong colors on to be greeted with much warmth.

Clippers vs. Warriors, Dec. 25, 2013, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

The battle for Western Conference supremacy could take place strictly on the West Coast, and the Christmas Day nightcap could be a preview of such. The Clippers will visit the Warriors in arguably the most electric atmosphere in the NBA, Oracle Arena. Chris Paul and Stephen Curry alone figure to make this an exciting one to watch, but factor in the host of other young stars on both teams, and this has the makings for a Christmas Day classic.

Indiana Pacers vs. Warriors, Jan. 20, 2014, 10:30 p.m., TNT

The Warriors will host the Pacers at Oracle Arena on Martin Luther King Day in the first meeting of the two teams since a Feb. 26, 2013, brawl that saw Roy Hibbert get ejected from the game after scuffling with David Lee and Stephen Curry. Both teams will be serious contenders in the Eastern and Western conferences, so the game will be a good test for both teams regardless of the bad blood.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Heat, Jan. 26, 2014, 1 p.m., ABC

This will be the no-doubt game of the week as the Spurs travel to AAA to face the Heat in an NBA Finals rematch. The Heat came away with the hardware then under adverse circumstances, while the Spurs were left shocked. What's most notable about their first meeting is how late in the season it occurs. Will Miami dominate after they've addressed some of their deficiencies inside? Will Greg Oden remain healthy enough to be a factor in this one? There are a number of other important questions leading up to this game that deserve support.

Nets vs. Celtics, Jan. 26, 2014, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

This game will mark the much-anticipated return to Boston for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, two players who wore Celtic green as well as anyone. When their careers are finished, they will probably be remembered for their 2008 title playing for the C's, but all their focus will be on justifying their new team owner's big spending.

Houston Rockets vs. Lakers, Feb. 19, 2014, 10:30 p.m., ESPN

In another nationally-televised game, the world will be watching when Dwight Howard returns to the lion's den known as Staples Center to square off against a Lakers team with a fanbase that will be resent him for the rest of his career. They're going to let him have it, and his old teammates who felt slighted by his decision are going to do everything they can to spoil his return to Los Angeles, despite being likely underdogs to a young, talented Rockets squad.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Rockets, April 4, 2014, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

The Thunder are going to have plenty to say about how the West is won next season, and when they travel to Houston near the end of the regular season, there could be plenty of playoff implications, bragging rights and a host of other narratives that follow this game. James Harden will look to solidify his leap from role player to superstardom with a strong performance against his friend and former teammate Kevin Durant.

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