The NBA Releases the 2016-17 Schedule

8/16/2016 by Dominic Hebert

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The NBA recently released the official schedule for 2016-17 regular season games. There has been a bit of off-season drama that should make for some interesting storylines and, of course, the awaited rematch between the two teams that squared off in the previous couple of Finals. There will be plenty of big games to look out for, though I’ll whittle down my list of Golden State games in a bit. With that stacked roster, facing them will be every team’s biggest game (sorry Cavs fans). With that, we’ll delve into the opening night and some interesting games that should be circled barring injury to key players.


Opening night:

The season will kick off with a double-header. New York at Cleveland and San Antonio at Golden State. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will be making their official debuts as members of the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony will likely be coming off of another stellar summer of international play. The Champion Cavaliers will raise the banner and receive their rings. With a half-century of pressure off of his back, LeBron will finally be able to enjoy just playing basketball (and being sort of petty). Look for him to have a big assist game as he’ll look to celebrate all day long.


With Tim Duncan gone, the Spurs have seemingly lost a lot of interior defense. Duncan had been one of the best rim protectors throughout his career and without him, Gregg Popovich will be clawing through his scalp attempting to come up with defensive strategies that make up for the liabilities that are David Lee, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge. I assume that he’ll want to pick up the tempo to take advantage of the skillsets of the bigs and the athleticism of Kawhi Leonard, but that will backfire against a Warriors squad on the path of redemption.


Steph Curry opted out of the Olympics this summer to rest his knee and likely the heartbreak of an unprecedented finals loss after taking a 3-1 lead in the series. He will be amped for the coming year as the Warriors will look to continue regular season dominance with the addition of Kevin Durant. Journalists and fans are going to dissect every part of this game as it could be the beginning of a new dynasty. Most will cheer, many will jeer, but one thing will be common--they’ll all be watching intently.


Thursday, October 27:


The Clippers will open the season on the road versus Damian Lillard and a promising Trail Blazers team. Evan Turner may be a strange fit, but he would be almost anywhere. Ezeli brings a great defensive awareness and IQ. He spent several years developing with a solid system in Golden State and has championship experience. Lillard will be getting plenty of space for his off-the-dribble shots due to Ezeli’s solid screens. This will be a good fit and an exciting game.


L.A. will give it another (and possibly last) shot with their core players. Blake Griffin played just 39 total games last year regular season and playoffs combined. And after a drama-filled season that reportedly saw him nearly traded, he should look to redeem himself. At 31, Chris Paul sees his championship window with this club either closing or already shut. If they don’t win it again, perhaps we’ll see CP3 use his 2017 early termination option to explore other suitable destinations. Then Doc Rivers will have no choice, but to blow up this team. Either they will play with desperation throughout the season or put out the same look that hasn’t been good enough for several years already.


Friday, November 4th:


Derrick Rose will return home to Chicago as the Knicks face off with the Bulls. He has been the butt of many harsh jokes from fans for his injury-riddled career, but looks to start anew with a different team. Perhaps playing in a different city will get him focused on basketball and less on not suffering another injury. Last season, he shot just under 43% from the floor and 29% from three. He needs to adapt his game if he hopes to be a truly serviceable starting guard in this league. I doubt we’ll ever see the Rose that swiped MVP from LeBron back in 2011, but if he works on his flaws and stays confident, New York could be fairly good (though certainly not a super team).


Friday, December 2nd:

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love will face off in Chicago against Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo. While I suspect that the latter trio will be a bit dysfunctional with the lack of shooting, this should be an intense matchup given the histories between Wade, Rondo, and LeBron.


Sunday, December 25th 2016:


The NBA has six games planned for this holiday, but the biggest one starts at 11:30am PST. Golden State will go into Cleveland looking to crush LeBron and the Cavs after losing in the finals. The addition of Kevin Durant soothed the sting from the loss, but not matter how chummy Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving have been lately, none of that will matter when he drives in for a contested layup. This is going to be fun and dramatic, but the result will either be a Golden State blowout win or a tight game. Either way, can’t wait.


Saturday, January 21st:


Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs will attempt to take down the defending champion Cavaliers. He will likely have the tall task of not just slowing LeBron, but also being a primary scorer on the other end. However, he has shown that he is more than up for it.


Saturday, February 11th:


Kevin Durant will return to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook and Durant reportedly haven’t spoke much if at all since his departure and that could change before this matchup. However, it should still be fun to see the NBA’s new villain in Durant go up against his former superstar partner in Westbrook. Most thought that the Western Conference would be a tug-o-war between OKC and GS for years to come, but Durant has seemingly destroyed that budding rivalry. If Russell is still healthy (which is up in the air considering the load he will be shouldering), this will still be a great game.


*******Feb. 27th marks 1 year since Steph Curry did this to OKC (never forget)*******



Ahem. Back to the list.


The period between the all-star break and the playoffs is typically a lull as solid teams become complacent while still dominating and middling teams battle for position. Therefore, there are just a few games during this time that piqued my interest immediately.


Wednesday, March 22nd:


Former teammates Jeff Teague and Al Horford will square-off in Boston. This will be an entertaining grind of a matchup. Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan has the coaching edge in terms of experience, however Brad Stevens has shown that he has one of the higher basketball IQs among coaches today. This one will be a fun chess match for more involved basketball fans, but the casual fan may find it a bit hard to watch at times.


Tuesday, April 4th:


The Bucks in Oklahoma City may not sound intriguing at first, but take a look at the length and skillsets on the floor. Both Westbrook and Antetokounmpo are matchup nightmares at the lead guard spot. Giannis Antetokounmpo is developing into something we’ve never seen before and he’ll be just 22 when this game is played. The lone glaring hole in his game is the lack of a consistent jumpshot. Outside of that, he’s incredible to watch. They have the potential to shock OKC just as they did the Warriors last season by playing up-tempo. Coach Jason Kidd likes to have them run plays out of the half-court which is a good foundation, but holds them back from the transition machine they can be with the length and ball-handling they have. He should cut them loose and watch the solid two-way team they could become.


Honorable Mentions:

Nov. 19 GS@MIL

Nov. 21 DAL@SA

Dec. 17 POR@GS

Dec. 29 MIA@CHA

Jan. 15 NY@TOR

Feb. 23 LAC@GS

Mar. 8   LAC@MIN

Mar. 8   BOS@GS


These are the games that I find to be most interesting at first glance the NBA season is quite unpredictable. Will Westbrook’s body be able to handle him being the lone superstar? Can another team in the East rise up and challenge the vice grip of the Cavs? Which player will surprise us and carry his team to the playoffs? It all remains to be seen. We’ll be glued to our screens all season long searching for the answers to these questions. Hopefully this will be another incredible year full of dramatic storylines and excellent games interspersed with record-setting numbers. Let’s make our predictions and enjoy the ride.

To check out the full schedule, head on over to ESPN

 

Dominic Hebert is the Chief Sports Editor at CSuiteMusic

You can reach Dominic Hebert at ddhebert@ucdavis.edu

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