2013-14 NBA Schedule: Breaking Down Top 10 Games of the Season

Alex KayCorrespondent IAugust 6, 2013

2013-14 NBA Schedule: Breaking Down Top 10 Games of the Season

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    The complete schedule for the 2013-14 NBA season has been released (via NBA.com), finally giving fans insight into how the upcoming campaign will play out.

    Due to the 82-game regular-season slate, each team in the league will play every opponent at least twice, sometimes more.

    While this inevitably leads to some unspectacular matchups—such as the Charlotte Bobcats taking on the Philadelphia 76ers—there are also tons of marquee showdowns that you will not want to miss.

    We’ve highlighted the cream of the crop in the coming pages, so keep reading to find out the 10 most anticipated battles of the 2013-14 season.

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Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers (October 31)

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    This blossoming rivalry took a major step forward last season, with both up-and-coming Pacific Division clubs making the playoffs.

    However, the Golden State Warriors came out ahead in the four-game series, winning three—including a 114-110 road victory at the Staples Center in November.

    Expect the intensity to be ratcheted up a notch this coming campaign, as each side retooled in the offseason and should be even stronger.

    Golden State jettisoned a number of bloated contracts to make room for star swingman Andre Iguodala, while the Los Angeles Clippers brought in a new coach in Doc Rivers, plus talented role players like J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison.

    These could be the two best teams in the West when all is said and done, so you won’t want to miss their first battle of the season. 

Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks (November 20)

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    The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers fought feverishly throughout the 2012-13 campaign for the No. 2 seed in the East, with the Knickerbockers eventually winning out.

    These longtime rivals split the four-game regular-season series, with each side defending its home court from the other.

    However, the Pacers took command in the playoffs and used their incredible length—highlighted by center Roy Hibbert and emerging superstar Paul George—to oust the favorite in six games.

    The Knicks are hoping that their offseason acquisitions of Metta World Peace and Andrea Bargnani can help shake things up against an opponent that simply throttled them defensively.

    With more shooters in the lineup and star Carmelo Anthony in the prime of his career, the Knicks hope that they have gained the upper hand on their Eastern Conference rivals from Indiana.

Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics (January 26)

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    The 2013-14 Boston Celtics are a mere shade of their former selves, as the two best players from last season and over the past half-decade—Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett—are now members of their Atlantic Division foe, the Brooklyn Nets.

    While the results could be lopsided, most fans are going to want to tune in to see The Truth and The Big Ticket face off against the team that they won the 2008 NBA Championship with.

    It’s going to be tough for fans in Beantown to swallow, but ultimately it was worth it for GM Danny Ainge to let these two future Hall of Famers have one more chance to contend before their careers come to an end.

    Expect the fans to give standing ovation to these Celtics legends and pay homage to their contributions to the club.

Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers (December 10)

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    Before the Miami Heat could overcome the San Antonio Spurs in an epic NBA Finals, they needed to get past the pesky Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.

    It took seven games and a bit of luck for the Heat to finally advance, but eventually LeBron James and Co. got their act together and handily pulled out a victory in the decisive game of the series.

    The Pacers’ players won’t soon forget how close they were to an improbable finals appearance and are likely spending the offseason preparing for a rematch

    Indiana's front office also made a number of adjustments that will help the club against Miami.

    While the team’s decision to draft Solomon Hill may have been near-universally derided, the Arizona forward impressed in the Summer League and could help the Pacers against the Heat next season.

    As for free agency, former Knicks role player Chris Copeland was a great addition. The versatile swingman can man a number of positions and help lock down the Heat’s best players.

    Don’t be surprised if this game gets chippy, as the Pacers look to prove that they are going to be tough to beat and a real contender against the defending champs next spring. 

New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets (December 5)

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    The Nets and Knicks rivalry has never been a truly passionate one, as the two sides lack a playoff history and have peaked at separate times during the course of NBA history.

    Until now.

    Both organizations are hoping to compete for a top seed in the Eastern Conference and made a number of offseason adjustments to aid their chances of accomplishing that goal.

    Brooklyn certainly made the bigger splash, as it mortgaged the future and didn't mind taking on a massive luxury-tax bill to go all-in on a championship.

    The acquisitions of Pierce, KG, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko and Shaun Livingston give the roster some much-needed balance and depth.

    New York was quiet in comparison, signing World Peace to bolster the forward rotation and trading for Bargnani to help space the floor and take some of the focus off ‘Melo.

    When all is said and done, these will be two of the top contenders in the conference and the rivalry is set to ignite when they first take the floor against one another.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (December 29)

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    Just two years ago, not many would have expected the Houston Rockets to be challenging the Oklahoma City Thunder for supremacy atop the Western Conference.

    However, with James Harden—formerly of OKC—ready to begin his second year with the club and Dwight Howard set to tip off his inaugural campaign in Texas, the Rockets are now the team to watch out West.

    That doesn’t mean you can write off the Thunder, though, as Kevin Durant is still the second-best player in basketball and Russell Westbrook should be back to full strength after his knee surgery.

    Remember, Oklahoma City’s title chances were submarined in the first round of the 2013 playoffs after Westbrook and Patrick Beverley collided. The Rockets’ guard went for a controversial steal during a timeout call and sidelined the Thunder star for the duration of the postseason due to a knee injury sustained as a result of the collision.

    It won’t soon be forgotten and Westbrook—along with the rest of his teammates—will have a chance to seek vengeance in this contest and assert their dominance over the challenger.

Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers (November 27)

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    It’s been three summers since LeBron James defected from the Cleveland Cavaliers and joined the Heat following the controversial “Decision.”

    It took a while, but the Cavs recovered and finally look like contenders. They seem poised for their first playoff run in the post-LBJ era, but they have even bigger aspirations.

    Last year’s promising players—Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson plus others—will be joined by newcomers such as free-agent signing Andrew Bynum, No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and other quality additions.

    While this squad alone looks great, brilliant general manager Chris Grant has built this group with enough salary cap flexibility to make a run at a marquee free agent next summer.

    It just so happens that the best available player could be LeBron James, so this showdown could be seen as an audition of sorts and potentially used as a recruitment tool for the Cavs.

    If they show that they can go blow-for-blow with the aging Heat, LBJ may decide to take his talents back to Ohio.

Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets (November 7)

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    The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t used to being rejected in free agency, which is why Dwight Howard’s defection to the Rockets was one of the biggest storylines of the offseason.

    After a tumultuous year with the organization, D12 decided that L.A. was not the right situation and spurned the club—passing up an extra year on his contract and $30 million in the process.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers cope, as Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are going to adopt an “us against the world” mentality for the upcoming campaign.

    The Lakers are definitely going to be underdogs in this contest, even if the Black Mamba is back on the floor and 100 percent healthy for it.

    However, the proud tradition of the Purple and Gold and dislike for Dwight could give L.A. the edge in this classic matchup that you won’t want to miss.

Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat (October 29)

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    The return is finally here, as Derrick Rose is set to make his regular-season debut against the Miami Heat on Oct. 29. 

    After a missing the entire 2012-13 season—for which the superstar point guard received much criticism—D-Rose finally has a chance to silence the doubters and prove to critics that taking more than a year off was the right call.

    The 2011 NBA MVP has to show that he is ready mentally and physically to endure the rigors of an 82-game season and play at a high level throughout.

    This is a can’t-miss affair that Bulls fans have been looking forward to for a long time now, and anyone even remotely interested in the NBA should make sure they catch it.

    If Rose is back to form and possibly better than before, he could be the difference between Chicago making a token playoff appearance and emerging as the squad that dethrones the Heat come the postseason.

San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat (January 26)

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    This is going to be one of the best matchups of the NBA’s 2013-14 regular season and it would be downright foolish to skip out on watching it.

    These two teams put on an epic performance during the 2013 Finals, proving that they are the two top teams in basketball and bring out the best in one another.

    This contest will feature superstars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili squaring off in what may be remembered as an instant classic.

    There is no shortage of bad blood, and the effort should certainly be there, unlike last season when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested his “Big Three” in an early-season matchup.

    It may pale in comparison to Game 6 of last year's Finals, but this potential thriller is an early candidate to be the game of the year.