10 NBA Preseason Games Every Fan Must Watch

Sebastian Lena@SP7988Analyst IOctober 8, 2013

10 NBA Preseason Games Every Fan Must Watch

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    An NBA Finals' rematch is just one of the highlights of the NBA preseason.
    An NBA Finals' rematch is just one of the highlights of the NBA preseason.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Although it’s the preseason, there are several games every NBA fan has to watch.

    From NBA Finals rematches to divisional clashes and international exposure, the preseason has it all. Fans should get a good look at which teams should excel this year and which will continue to plummet.

    All in all, just because the games don’t count toward the regular season, it doesn’t mean they should be entirely dismissed.

    Here are 10 matchups that you’ll likely want to DVR.

New York Knicks at Boston Celtics

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    It's a new beginning in this rivalry.
    It's a new beginning in this rivalry.Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Venue: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, R.I. 

    Why To Watch

    Regardless of sport, Boston versus New York is a matchup that brings out the worst in both fanbases. That goes for whether it's Red Sox-Yankees, Bruins-Rangers, Patriots-Jets/Giants or Celtics-Knicks.

    Although it may be the preseason, this one should be no different.

    Normally, the fact that these two Atlantic Division foes met in the first round of last year’s postseason would be the storyline. However, Boston has undergone a major facelift since then.

    The team parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers along with veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett over the summer. It all leaves the Celtics staring down the barrel of a major rebuilding project.

    On the other hand, New York will be opening its preseason following one of the franchise’s best campaigns in a while. Expectations are high, as the team is considered an NBA title contender. 

    This is definitely a matchup of two squads headed in different directions.

    However, it will be interesting to see how the fresh faces handle the first chapter in a new era of this rivalry.

CKSA Moscow at San Antonio Spurs

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    Can Duncan keep up his top-notch play this season?
    Can Duncan keep up his top-notch play this season?Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m. ET

    Venue: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas 

    Why To Watch

    After coming within seconds of capturing last year’s NBA title, the Spurs will be anxious to get back on the court.

    First up? A preseason date with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

    Sure, a matchup with a foreign club doesn’t necessary seem too difficult of a task. However, the Red Army have already beaten two NBA teams in seven attempts since 2006.

    Preseason or not, San Antonio doesn’t want to follow up last season’s disappointment by becoming the third team on that list.

    The big issue surrounding the Spurs will be if Tim Duncan can keep up the high level of play he displayed last year.

    After a couple seasons of declining performance, the 37-year-old surprisingly made an argument as to why he’s still a top-10 player. He averaged 17.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks over 30.1 minutes per game.

    San Antonio also brought in Marco Belinelli to bolster the bench and will be hoping that Kawhi Leonard can continue his ascension into the face of the franchise.

    With all that said, it will a much-anticipated first glimpse of the reigning Western Conference champions.

Houston Rockets vs. Indiana Pacers

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    It's always a battle when these two teams play.
    It's always a battle when these two teams play.Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 10, 7:30 a.m. ET

    Venue: Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay, Philippines

    Why To Watch

    There are a couple reasons to be excited for this one.

    For starters, this is the first NBA game to ever be played in the Philippines. Secondly, it features two of the league’s brightest teams.

    In fact, it could very well be considered a look at a possible NBA Finals matchup.

    The Pacers are coming off pushing the eventual-champion Miami Heat to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The team returns its entire core and successfully re-signed starters Paul George and David West to new deals.

    There’s no reason to believe that Indiana will be anything but better in 2013-14.

    On the other hand, the Rockets moved into the Western Conference conversation last season backed by the additions of James Harden and Jeremy Lin. After adding this summer’s top prize, Dwight Howard, the team should be a strong contender for the NBA title.

    I couldn’t think of two better teams to treat the locals with their first taste of NBA basketball.

Sacramento Kings vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Is a new chapter in store for this Cali rivalry?
    Is a new chapter in store for this Cali rivalry?Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 10, 10 p.m. ET

    Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev.

    Why To Watch

    The MGM Grand Arena has hosted many heavyweights over the years, including Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.

    There was a time when the Kings and Lakers were fit to be considered among them. However, those days have long come and gone.

    In fact, only Kobe Bryant remains from the two squads who battled in what was easily the NBA’s best rivalry back in the early 2000s.

    After several years of mediocrity, Sacramento is looking to get back to the glory days. The franchise started by bringing in fresh management and a new head coach and re-signing DeMarcus Cousins long-term. Surprisingly, the Kings even brought in one of the biggest thorns in their side, former Laker Shaquille O’Neal.

    Regardless, the team’s future actually doesn’t look bleak for once.

    On the other side, Los Angeles is dealing with the loss of Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace over the summer. Furthermore, Bryant is still recovering from an Achilles injury that ended his 2012-13 season prematurely.

    To put it bluntly, this team is akin to a runaway train. Whether it comes to a successful stop or crashes and burns, the Lakers will have an engaged audience.

    This matchup should be no different.

Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets

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    The trio will be playing its first game against Boston since being traded.
    The trio will be playing its first game against Boston since being traded.USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Why To Watch

    Here’s a sentence you thought you’d never hear: On October 15, Paul Pierce will suit up to play against the Celtics.

    For 15 seasons, Pierce was the face of Boston. He battled through thick and thin, through winning seasons and losing campaigns alike, and he was finally rewarded with the NBA title in 2008.

    Now, the 35-year-old will do everything in his power to prevent his old team from winning another ring, let alone the Atlantic Division title.

    But he won’t be alone in his pursuit. Pierce will also be sharing the court with two other former Celtics: Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.

    The trio departed the team via trade over the offseason. This will mark the group's first appearance against Boston since.

    While nothing will match the intensity, emotion and atmosphere of Pierce and Garnett’s trip back to Boston on January 26, this will still be a good chance to see how they act among some of their former teammates.

    Author’s note: The teams are scheduled to play at TD Garden during the preseason; however, both Garnett and Pierce are not expected to make the trip.

Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls

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    Can Rose get back to his best?
    Can Rose get back to his best?Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 16, 8 p.m. ET

    Venue: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

    Why To Watch

    Bulls fans waited and waited and waited for Derrick Rose’s triumphant return in 2012-13. Unfortunately, the season came and went without a single minute logged by the 25-year-old.

    On October 16, that will all change.

    Rose is set to make his first appearance at the United Center since tearing his ACL during Chicago’s Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since then.

    In two preseason matches thus far, Rose has looked pretty solid, averaging 13 points on 40 percent shooting.

    The Bulls will also get a first glimpse of the new-look Pistons, who made several big-name acquisitions over the summer—Josh Smith, Brandon Jennings and Chauncey Billups.

    While the Central Division should still come down to either Chicago or the Indiana Pacers, Detroit looks to make some noise.

Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets

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    Don't expect the rivalry of James (left) and Pierce (right) to die down anytime soon.
    Don't expect the rivalry of James (left) and Pierce (right) to die down anytime soon.Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 17, 8 p.m. ET

    Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Why To Watch

    This is a matchup between two teams who could very well be facing off against each other in the Eastern Conference Finals. Not only that, but it will also feature eight former NBA All-Stars on the court.

    What more reason to watch do you need than that?

    LeBron James and the Heat are coming off a second straight championship. With the addition of Greg Oden and Michael Beasley, along with the returns of Ray Allen (opted in) and Chris Andersen (re-signed), this is a team that’s proving it isn’t content with just two rings.

    Miami wants not one, not two, not three, not four…well, you get the picture.

    But no team in the league had as good an offseason as the Nets.

    First, the front office swung a deal to land Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics. Next, the team snagged Andrei Kirilenko for the price of a box of Lunchables and a Juicy Juice.

    Given the age of those players, it's obvious Brooklyn wants to win now.

    The only team standing in its way? Yup, you guessed it…the Heat.

    Did we mention the intense rivalry Pierce and Garnett had with LeBron back in Boston? Expect that to only grow more now that the duo is on an NBA title contender.

    This is one you can't afford to miss. 

San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

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    The loss in June was a tough pill to swallow for the Spurs.
    The loss in June was a tough pill to swallow for the Spurs.Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET

    Venue: American Airlines Center, Miami, Fla.

    Why To Watch

    These two aren’t even four months clear of playing for all the marbles. In fact, it took a last-second Ray Allen three-point shot to snatch the trophy out of the waiting arms of Tim Duncan and the Spurs and thrust it into the outstretched hands of LeBron James and the Heat.

    Sure, it may be just a preseason game. However, try telling that to the American Airlines Arena crowd.

    The atmosphere should be nuts.

    Signs, chants and everything else will be tossed San Antonio’s way during this one. But don’t expect just the crowd to get in on this one. There’s sure to be a lot of back and forth from the players as well.

    Expect the Spurs to want this win more than Miami.

    It may not make up for the disappointment of losing the NBA Finals, but it sure is a pretty good start.

Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Will Bynum be a bust for Cleveland?
    Will Bynum be a bust for Cleveland?Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 21, 7 p.m. ET

    Venue: Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Ohio

    Why To Watch

    Last summer, the 76ers entered the season thinking that newly acquired Andrew Bynum would play big dividends for the team. Instead, the 25-year-old never appeared in one game for Philadelphia.

    This time around, it’s the Cavaliers feeling that same kind of optimism.

    But even if Bynum doesn’t work out, the team is setting itself up for success. Cleveland also brought in Sixth Man of the Year-candidate Jarrett Jack and forward Earl Clark.

    Not to mention, the team is high on No. 1-overall selection Anthony Bennett.

    The Cavaliers are a young team ready to make some noise. This season might be just be that year.

    On the other hand, the 76ers made a big move by getting rid of their young, promising guard in Jrue Holiday.

    In return, the team added rookies Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams. Royce White was also brought in via trade with the Houston Rockets.

    While Cleveland is thinking playoffs, it’s become pretty clear that Philadelphia is all set with Riggin’ for Wiggins.

    Regardless, the only thing that could be worse for the 76ers is seeing Bynum make another team significantly better.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs

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    It's always a show when Howard (left) takes on the Spurs.
    It's always a show when Howard (left) takes on the Spurs.Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    When: Oct. 24, 8 p.m. ET

    Venue: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas 

    Why To Watch

    Talk about old school versus new school. The team to beat in the West for the last decade going up against a potential candidate to take over the crown for the next 10 years.

    However, the Spurs aren’t ready to pass the torch just yet.

    If these two met in the postseason, it would be a highly entertaining matchup. Seeing Duncan and Howard match up would be special—not to mention the multitude of other juicy pairings this series would feature.

    Although it may be just the preseason, expect this one to be pretty competitive as it is the last warmup for San Antonio and the second-to-last for the Rockets.

    Both squads should be very good this year. Look at this as a preview for the division title, as Houston should be expected to give the Spurs a legitimate run in the Southwest Division.

    This will be a good one.

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