10 Opening-Week Matchups NBA Fans Can't Afford to Miss

Brendan Bowers@@BowersCLEContributor IIOctober 29, 2012

10 Opening-Week Matchups NBA Fans Can't Afford to Miss

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    The curtain call has concluded on South Beach. Scripts have been revised, and the dress rehearsal is over. The bright lights of the NBA are back this week, and it's about to get real.

    Real drama, real stories and real outcomes that really matter.

    Buy a ticket, set your DVR, download League Pass onto your iPhone and call off work for a while.

    Starting on Tuesday, opening week of the NBA season will include 36 games before the final buzzer sounds on Saturday night.

    The Miami Heat will begin their quest to repeat as NBA champions against the team they eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Ray Allen will match up with his former squad in the process, while Dwight Howard and Steve Nash take center stage with a new team.

    The first overall pick will be welcomed to the NBA by a team filled with future Hall of Famers. The battle for New York supremacy will start in Brooklyn.

    Houston will also give way to Linsanity and a new bearded teammate, while the Clippers fight for headlines in L.A.

    The summer-long wait is now over. The NBA season has finally arrived.

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat

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    Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8 p.m. (ET)

    The Boston Celtics will begin their season in the same building they finished the last one.

    After eliminating the Celtics on their home floor during the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat will play host again as the new campaign tips off.

    The Heat are scheduled to receive their championship rings just before Ray Allen lines up against his former team.

    LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat will open their quest to defend that title against Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Celtics. 

    Jason Terry is slated to make his debut for the C's, along with rookie Jared Sullinger.

Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers

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    Tuesday, Oct. 30, 10:30 p.m. (ET)

    Dwight Howard is about to play center for the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Maybe you heard about this.

    Steve Nash will be playing point guard too. 

    Kobe Bryant will be a game-time decision and Dirk Nowitzki is out, but this game will be plenty compelling.

    Coach Mike Brown needs to get his Lakers off to a fast start this season.

    He'll be looking for someone off his bench to step up and help get that done.

    As well, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison will be making their respective debuts with the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Denver Nuggets at Philadelphia 76ers

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    Wednesday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m. (ET)

    This could've been Andrew Bynum's first game as the newest star in Philadelphia. 

    That's been delayed, however, as rehab of his right knee continues.

    But Wednesday will mark the return of a former Sixers All-Star as Andre Iguodala comes to town with the Denver Nuggets.

    Evan Turner is expected to play opposite Iguodala, who he previously backed up for two seasons.  

    Two of the fastest point guards in the league will also be going head-to-head as Jrue Holiday tries to keep pace with Ty Lawson.

San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Hornets

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    Wednesday, Oct. 31, 8 p.m. (ET)

    It's your first NBA game ever, and you're matched up with a future Hall of Famer.

    That'll be the case for not only Anthony Davis on Wednesday night, but also rookie teammate Austin Rivers.

    Tim Duncan will be introducing the first overall pick to life in the NBA, while Tony Parker will be there to greet Rivers.

    Austin sprained his ankle last week, but did practice on Sunday. According to reports, he is listed as day-to-day and expected to go in this one.

    Ryan Anderson is expected to make his Hornets debut against the Spurs as well.

New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets

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    Thursday, Nov. 1, 7 p.m. (ET)

    What appears to be the most improved team in the NBA just completed its move to Brooklyn.

    The new-look Nets will begin their quest for city supremacy by welcoming the Knicks to the house that Mikhail Prokhorov built.

    Deron Williams will team up with Joe Johnson for the first time. Carmelo Anthony looks to settle into his first full season under Mike Woodson.

    Raymond Felton is scheduled to replace Jeremy Lin, while Brook Lopez looks to begin his season healthy.

Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs

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    Thursday, Nov. 1, 9:30 p.m. (ET)

    Life without James Harden begins against the team he helped eliminate in the Western Conference Finals last season.

    Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of this year's Oklahoma City Thunder will match up with the San Antonio Spurs to open their season.

    It will be game No. 2 for the Spurs.

    I'm not sure how much time the newly-acquired Kevin Martin or Jeremy Lamb could see for the Thunder on Thursday. The NBA debut of Perry Jones III, however, is expected.

Miami Heat at New York Knicks

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    Friday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. (ET)

    After opening their season on the road in Brooklyn, the Knicks will come home for a date with the defending champion Miami Heat.

    Carmelo Anthony will look to re-establish himself amongst the NBA's elite with a strong effort against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Meanwhile, LeBron will try to add another marquee performance to his long list of Broadway thrillers.

Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers

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    Friday, Nov. 2, 10:30 p.m. (ET)

    The Los Angeles Clippers took a backseat to their crosstown rivals this summer.

    After the Clippers stole all the headlines last offseason, the Lakers countered the addition of Chris Paul by adding a Dwight Howard and raising a Steve Nash.

    It will be year two for CP3 and the Clippers, however, while the Lakers will begin to blend their talent together for the first time.

    The Clippers open against Memphis and stay in town for this Western Conference showdown with the Lakers.

    Kobe Bryant might even be back for this one too.

Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets

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    Saturday, Nov. 3, 8:00 p.m. (ET)

    The Rockets' home opener tips off with Jeremy Lin welcoming rookie Damian Lillard to Houston.

    This will also be the first night that Rockets fans have a chance to cheer on their new bearded shooting guard.

    James Harden might just be what Jeremy needs to keep Linsanity going for another season.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks

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    Saturday, Nov. 3, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

    Kyrie Irving has an opportunity to elevate his game from Rookie of the Year to All-Star this season.

    The 2012 fourth overall pick from Syracuse University could play a major role in helping him make that leap.

    Dion Waiters will be playing, if not starting, alongside Irving this season in the Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt.

    On Saturday, Irving and Waiters are scheduled to square off with Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and the Milwaukee Bucks.