The 2012-13 NBA schedule has been released (via NBA.com). If you're not excited for this upcoming season after seeing when the best teams in the game will be matched up against each other, you need to check your pulse.
There are plenty of intriguing games on the slate for next season, many of which come before the All-Star break. These contests give teams a chance to show that they deserve to be in the discussion as a contender and are not to be doubted.
We're going to see new rivalries unfold, rematches from the 2012 playoffs and a wealth of blockbuster basketball games before the first half of the NBA season is through.
Here are three of the biggest statement games before the break.
New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets; Nov. 1 on TNT at 7 p.m. ET
This is the beginning of the battle for New York City.
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are set to play their first intrastate game of the year on the first day in November at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Both teams added new pieces this offseason, but the Nets definitely stole the show over the summer with the acquisition of Joe Johnson and signing of Deron Williams. The Knicks added role players they are hoping will change the dynamic on both sides of the court.
This is the first chance for the Nets to stake their claim on New York and steal the allegiance of fans all over the Empire State. Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will be looking to squash the notion that there is a new sheriff in town.
We've heard our fair share of chatter from both sides (mostly from the Nets), and this will be each team's first shot at the other. It also is the first game in the Nets' new arena, so Avery Johnson's bunch will be out to impress.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat; Christmas Day on ABC at 5:30 p.m. ET
In a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder will be on a mission to prove that their five-game loss to the Miami Heat was nothing more than a fluke.
We'll get to see if Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis would have made things any easier for the Heat in last season's finals. Barring any injuries, Perry Jones III will be in action for the Zombies and will provide some extra versatility on both ends.
These two teams could be the last ones playing at the end of next season once again, and the entire world will be watching this possible finals primer on Christmas Day.
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder; Dec. 7 on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. ET
There's no denying that the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder could be duking it out in the Western Conference finals next season.
Oklahoma City's uprising against the rest of the conference was supposed to be the changing of the guard out west. The Lakers were supposed to fall back into the second-tier of teams due to their aging lineup and a declining Kobe Bryant.
That all changed with the sign-and-trade that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles and away from irrelevancy with the Phoenix Suns.
The top three spots out west will be up for grabs, with the Thunder, Lakers and the immortal San Antonio Spurs being the main competitors.
We have yet to mention that the Thunder ousted the Lakers from the playoffs next season, so there's no doubt Kobe and company will have redemption on their minds Dec. 7.