NBA 2017-18: Juiciest Matchups of the Regular Season

Isaiah Thomas speaking to the official
Keith Allison (Flickr) CC License

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we only have a little over seven weeks of NBA offseason left. On October 17th, all the blockbuster trades will have likely concluded and we will be forced to watch those boring, lopsided, and meaningless regular-season games.

No one is going to blame you for spending your nights watching the consequential regular seasons of hockey and/or football. We all know how the NBA regular season is going to end: Cleveland and Boston will be the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, while Golden State, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota battle for positioning in the West. I can say with certainty those are the only seven teams with a chance of winning the NBA championship this season, and even a couple of them possess pretty long odds.

But hey, I guess it’s better than last year when we only had three legitimate contenders — or was it one? And all of the offseason movement has even created some must-see TV out of terrible regular-season matchups. So if you are going to tune out for the majority of the NBA season, at least come back for these games.

Kyrie Irving Returns to Cleveland (October 17)

By Keith Allison (Flickr) CC License

The Celtics-Cavaliers matchup on opening night was already going to be an interesting one, but the whole Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas (plus) swap has turned this into arguably the most intriguing game of the season.

With a lot of turnover in Boston, it’s reasonable to assume it may take the Celtics a little time to build chemistry. You can also expect LeBron James to throw everything he has at Boston to ensure they know who owns the conference.

Odds to win the game

  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 2/3
  • Boston Celtics: 3/2

Over/under points for Isaiah Thomas: 24.5

Over/under points for Kyrie Irving: 32.5

Over/under points for Gordon Hayward: 22.5

Odds LeBron James blocks a Kyrie Irving shot-attempt and stares him down after: 7/8

Rockets at Warriors (October 17)

Get ready for points, points, and more points. These were the top two offenses in the NBA last season, and Houston has added Chris Paul to the mix.

Odds to win the game

  • Golden State Warriors: 3/4
  • Houston Rockets: 4/3

Over/under total points scored: 230.5

Lonzo Ball’s First Game (October 19)

The second-overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft — better known as LaVar Ball’s son — will take the court in front of his home crowd at the Staples Center in the Lakers’ season-opener against the Clippers. Will Lonzo continue his triple-double ways from the Summer League? As a bonus: what the hell will the Clippers look like without CP3?

Odds to win the game

  • Los Angeles Clippers: 4/5
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 5/4

Odds Lonzo Ball records a triple-double: 7/2

76ers’ First Three Games

The loyal folk of Philadelphia have been patiently trusting the process long enough. The trio of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid have to start bringing some wins to the city of brotherly love this year. They’ll be tested right out of the gate as they open the season against the Wizards, Celtics, and Raptors, i.e. three of the top four seeds in the East last year. These first three games will provide a solid measuring stick for the young but talented 76ers.

Odds the 76ers start 3-0: 12/1

Odds the 76ers start 0-3: 4/1

Odds the 76ers make the playoffs in 2017-18: 3/5

Timberwolves’ First Three Games

Minnesota entered the 2016-17 season as a darkhorse in the Western Conference after hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach and adding another year of experience to the resumes of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. But all the hype amounted to 31 wins and a very disappointing year.

The Timberwolves have now acquired one of Thibodeau’s own in three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler. Can the former Bull help tap into the potential of Minnesota’s talented roster? We’ll find out quickly, as they open the season against the Spurs, Jazz, and Thunder.

Odds the Timberwolves start 3-0: 13/2

Odds the Timberwolves start 0-3: 8/1

Odds the Timberwolves make the playoffs in 2017-18: 2/3

Carmelo Anthony’s Possible Return to New York (November 1)

Why is Carmelo Anthony still a Knick? The franchise clearly wants to move on …

And I’m sure Melo would, too. The most likely destination for the ten-time All-Star has always been Houston. If the deal is finally made, the Rockets head to Madison Square Garden on November 1st.

Odds Carmelo Anthony is still a Knick come November 1: 9/2

Odds Carmelo Anthony plays in this game: 1/2

Paul George Returns to Indiana (December 13)

It still blows my mind that all the Pacers got for Paul George was Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. But anyways, this will be PG13’s first game back in Indiana. Though the entire game likely won’t be entertaining, it’ll have its moments.

Over/under points for Paul George: 35.5

Odds Paul George scores more points than Oladipo and Sabonis combined: 2/3

Odds Paul George gets booed in Indiana: 1/9

First Title Rematch (December 25)

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will hope to bring some extra joy to your Christmas Day, as the two meet for the first time since Game 5 of the 2017 finals. It goes without saying, there’s a good chance this serves as a preview to the fourth consecutive Warriors-Cavs NBA Finals.

Odds to win the game

  • Golden State Warriors: 3/4
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 4/3

Odds the Warriors and Cavaliers meet in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive year: 4/7

Chris Paul Returns to LA (January 15)

It was widely believed that the 2016-17 season would be Chris Paul’s last season as a Clipper, and the pundits were correct. The four-time First-Team All-NBA point guard opted into his contract with the Clippers so they could trade him to the Rockets, where he and James Harden will try to slay the mighty Warriors.

Along the way, CP3 will make his return to LA to take on his old team on January 15.

Odds Chris Paul is booed in LA: 2/3

Over/under points for Chris Paul: 25.5

Jimmy Butler Returns to Chicago (February 9)

After the Bulls assured Jimmy Butler he wasn’t going to be traded, Bulls GM Gar Forman responded by sending him to Minnesota. This will account for Butler’s first game back in Chicago. Don’t tune in expecting competitive basketball, rather sweet vengeance.

Over/under points for Jimmy Butler: 40.5

Odds Jimmy Butler gets booed in Chicago: 3/2

Gordon Hayward Returns to Utah (March 28)

Gordon Hayward was the most coveted free agent on the market this summer, and he chose to exercise his rights and leave Utah in the rear-view mirror. He won’t need to face the bitter Salt Lake City fans until March 28th.

Over/under points for Gordon Hayward: 28.5

Odds Rudy Gobert shakes Gordon Hayward’s hand before tip-off: 13/7