The 2013-14 NBA schedule has been released, and as a result, the hypothetical has become a reality. Fans across the globe are clamoring in anticipation of the games that are soon to be, marking down their respective calendars with the days they will be glued to their television sets.
The question is, what are the most intriguing matchups of the upcoming season?
Every game offers it's own reason for interest, as the NBA is in the midst of an offseason in which the stars re-aligned. This creates the potential for superstars to play their former teams and newly formed powers to test their might against established squads.
One way or another, there are games that you simply can't miss.
The official 2013-14 NBA regular season schedule can be found a the following link via NBA.com.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Look no further than the first day of the regular season for what may be the most intriguing game of the year.
Tuesday, Oct. 29 will mark the day in which the Miami Heat receive their championship rings and raise their third banner. At the AmericanAirlines Arena for this ceremony will be Miami's bitter rival: the Chicago Bulls.
Did we mention that this will be Derrick Rose's first regular season game in over a calendar year?
The storylines are endless here, as the Bulls and Heat have a genuine hate for one another. From their physical battles in every regular season or playoff game to the eye-popping matchup of Rose versus LeBron James, we have it all.
Talk about starting with a bang.
The impact of this game on the broad picture will likely be minimal, but that doesn't discount how much tension there will be in Miami. From Rose's highly-anticipated return to action to the anger that will fill the Bulls upon seeing their arch nemesis basking in championship glory, this one will be physical and memorable.
Don't waste any time, folks—set your DVR's now.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
Date: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Any time we hear that James Harden is going to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, our interest peaks. Harden is close friends with former teammates Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook, so clashes between the two sides are certainly intriguing.
Now that Harden has Dwight Howard as a teammate, we can't help but ask—are the Thunder still the best in the Western Conference?
We could bring up the San Antonio Spurs, but that's a null point that's acknowledged by the fact that they're the Morgan Freeman of basketball—their greatness goes without mentioning. The Rockets and Thunder, meanwhile, are the powerful young guns.
One of them will be the next best team in the Western Conference, if they aren't already.
Howard offers Harden the superstar teammate he lacked, and makes this potential battle especially intriguing. Howard was brought in to help contain Westbrook's slashing prowess, which puts an elevated burden on Durant.
If you ever wanted to see Durant and Harden go toe-to-toe in a high-scoring affair, this is the game you want to watch.
The fact that it falls towards the end of 2013 suggests that we will see both of these teams close to their top form. Seeing as the game is being played in Oklahoma City, it's safe to say that there will be a playoff atmosphere, as well.
It's too early to tell who will win, but we can inform you of the obvious—this game will play a major role in shaping the Western Conference.
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics
Date: Sunday, Jan. 26
Time: 6:30 p.m ET
The Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets have been rivals for quite some time, and that's no secret. With that being said, there's a bigger storyline here than the rekindling of a rivalry, which will first happen on Dec. 10 in Brooklyn.
For the first time in his 15-year career, Paul Pierce will play at the TD Garden as a member of the away team.
Which game are you most anxious to see?
The Celtics drafted Pierce at No. 10 overall in the 1998 NBA draft, thus sparking what has been nothing short of a magnificent career. Pierce is undoubtedly one of the greatest Celtics players in franchise history, and he will likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
24,021 career points and an NBA championship certainly back that claim up.
Thus far, Pierce has scored every single one of those points in a Celtics uniform, which is something we can't say about many of today's superstars. Despite receiving undeniable interest from teams via trade and free agency during his 15 years, Pierce remained loyal to Celtic green.
On Sunday, Jan. 26, he'll be in Boston wearing a Brooklyn Nets jersey. It doesn't get much more surreal than that.
If that's not enough to peak your interest, Kevin Garnett, a Celtics legend in his own right, will be with Pierce in a Nets uniform. After spending six outstanding years with the organization, winning an NBA championship and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award, Garnett was traded with Pierce.
Something tells us this rivalry will go on hold for a few minutes as Boston, one of the most passionate sports cities in the world, gives these men a standing ovation—one that is well-earned.