2012-13 NBA Schedule: Breaking Down Top 10 Games of the Season

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 26, 2012

2012-13 NBA Schedule: Breaking Down Top 10 Games of the Season

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    The 2012-13 schedule is out, and we NBA fans can start looking forward to the top games of the season. 

    After watching summer league for the last few weeks, every game looks appealing, but these 10 stand out as the best of the bunch. 

    Get out your calendars, grab a pen and get ready to circle some dates. If you have anything scheduled, cancel your plans and free your night up. 

    Then make sure your couch is ready for you. 

10. Nash's Return to the Desert

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    Date: Jan. 30, 2013

    Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Phoenix Suns

    Steve Nash became such a fan favorite during his multiple stints with the Phoenix Suns that his first game back in the US Airways Center is sure to be an emotional one. 

    The question remains, though: Which kinds of emotions are going to prevail? 

    Are Suns fans going to cheer on their longtime favorite point guard even as he plays in a new uniform? Are they going to continue to hope that he wins a ring?

    Or are they going to hate his guts for going to the despised Los Angeles Lakers?

    We'll find out during this game.

9. Western Conference Finals Rematch

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    Date: Nov. 1, 2012

    Matchup: San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    During last year's Western Conference Finals, the San Antonio Spurs won the first two games and extended their record-setting winning streak, but then fell apart. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder reeled off four straight victories to advance to the NBA Finals. 

    With Tim Duncan back in the plain, yet classic Spurs uniform once again, this is sure to be another close contest, as each team will be striving to prove itself against another elite team. 

    Expect the Thunder to come out on top, but don't expect it to be an easy victory by any stretch of the imagination. 

    Both of these teams are locks to return to the playoffs. However, that doesn't prevent a hard-fought victory against another great opponent from leaving a sweet taste in the mouth. 

8. How the West Was Won

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    Date: March 5, 2013

    Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

    No disrespect meant to the San Antonio Spurs, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder are going to be the two best teams in the Western Conference during the 2012-13 season. 

    After the younger, less experienced Thunder knocked the Lakers out of the playoffs in five games, L.A. will be chomping at the bit for the right to show who's boss. 

    The two teams will meet four times during the regular season, and this is the final matchup.

    At this point, the Lakers will have had time to mesh on the court and get used to playing with Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison and the other key additions to the roster. Plus, the standings could be close enough that this one game could swing the race either way. 

7. The Rivalry Game

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    Date: Feb. 7, 2013

    Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

    It's always a classic whenever the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers play. 

    The aging Celtics might not be able to hang with their bitter rivals, though, now that Steve Nash will be wearing a purple and gold jersey. Then again, Rajon Rondo might be able to put up a triple-double against Nash's porous defense. 

    Even if the Lakers are the superior team, you can expect the C's to put up as much of a fight as they possibly can. 

    When two teams have combined to win half of the possible NBA titles throughout history, and many of those wins have come against each other in the Finals, there's bound to be a bit of bad blood. 

6. The Battle for L.A.

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    Date: April 7, 2013

    Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

    The Los Angeles Clippers took down the Los Angeles Lakers during the first "Battle for L.A." of the Chris Paul era, but the Lakers won the remaining two contests at the shared Staples Center. 

    Now, Steve Nash can match up with CP3 and potentially solidify the Lake Show's hold on the city. 

    Stars will be out in full force for this game—the last in the series between the teams—as Blake Griffin looks to posterize Pau Gasol a few more times while adding Kobe Bryant to the list of players he's dominated. 

5. Clash of Super-Teams

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    Date: Febr. 10, 2013

    Matchup: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

    There's no better way for the Los Angeles Lakers to test themselves than this contest at South Beach. If you want to be the champions, at some point, you have to take down the defending champions. 

    The Miami Heat and the Lakers first square off a little less than a month earlier at the Staples Center, but this will be the more crucial contest for the Lakers. 

    Can Steve Nash tear apart the vaunted Miami defense, or will LeBron James and his comrades reign supreme once more? 

    This is the highest-ranked game that's on the list for pure basketball reasons. The rest are all crucial rematches or spectacles that can't be missed. 

4. Linsanity in Madison Square Garden

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    Date: Dec. 17, 2012

    Matchup: Houston Rockets vs. New York Knicks

    James Dolan might have felt betrayed when Jeremy Lin worked out a back-loaded contract with the Houston Rockets, and he'll have a chance to make the breakout point guard pay when Linsanity returns to Madison Square Garden. 

    Conflicting emotions will reign supreme, as Knicks fans suddenly find themselves rooting against the player they helped to create. 

    Lin will never experience as much pressure as he'll face during his first game as a visiting player at MSG.

    How well he plays will be a great indicator of the career he'll have, even if it is just a one-game sample size. 

3. Opening Day

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    Date: Oct. 30, 2012

    Matchup: Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

    Opening day is going to contain all the drama an NBA fan could ever hope for, and then some. 

    LeBron James, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen will all be in action. 

    Two of the league's biggest current rivals will be squaring off against each other. 

    Allen will be putting on the Miami Heat uniform in a game for the first time in his career, and he'll be doing so against his old team. 

    There will be plenty of hard fouls, chippy play and great basketball when the Boston Celtics and Heat kick off the NBA season. 

2. Brooklyn Home Opener and Initial Battle for New York

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    Date: Nov. 1, 2012

    Matchup:  New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets

    It would be stupid to bet against the Brooklyn Nets in this game. 

    As the Nets play their first game in the Barclays Center while wearing their new—and still unreleased—home uniforms, there's no telling how hard they'll play. 

    Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez will all be eager to win over their new home fans and will put forth a technically impossible 110 percent during this early-season matchup. 

    New York City is big enough to host both the New York Knicks and the Nets, but it's not big enough for both of them to hold supremacy. 

    There's only going to be one "Best Team in New York" each year, and it'll be a battle for that title. 

    Going into the 2012 offseason, the Knicks had to be considered the overwhelming favorites in this contest, boasting the services of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Now, the competition has been leveled. 

    After the re-signing of Williams, Wallace and Lopez, plus the acquisition of Johnson and a number of other players, the Nets are poised to be true contenders in the Eastern Conference. 

    This is sure to be an emotional clash from the tip-off to the final buzzer. 

1. Christmas Day Rematch

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    Date: Dec. 25, 2012

    Matchup: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat

    Christmas Day always provides glamorous matchups in the NBA, and this year will be no different, as we get a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals. 

    LeBron James and Kevin Durant will take center stage once more, as the cast of stars jogs out onto the court. 

    After spending the summer competing with LeBron for playing time on Team USA, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Durant will all be even more eager to avenge their loss on basketball's biggest stage. 

    Just like they were last year, both of these two teams will be among the elite in the Association, and they'll be battling for supremacy in this holiday contest.