NBA Schedules 2010-11: Miami Heat-Lakers and 10 Games We're Dying to See
Today, the NBA will release the schedules for the opening week of the 2010-2011 season and announce the notoriously big-billed Christmas Day game.
The schedule announcement is one step towards finding out when and where some of the biggest matchups of the NBA season will occur in the upcoming season.
Free agency is nearing its end , the rosters are near completion and today we will get an early glimpse of when the biggest showdowns may occur. But what are the 10 matchups we want to see most?
10. Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat
The Hawks locked up their best player by signing Joe Johnson to a max contract this summer. However, the Hawks—who finished third in the Eastern Conference last season—now find themselves on the second tier of Eastern Conferences teams given the additions by their neighbors.
Can they continue their upward trend or will Miami be an impenetrable wall on the Hawks road up the conference ladder? Many have a hard time taking the Hawks seriously following early playoff exits. Playing Miami will be a good barometer of just how far this team can go and how seriously we should take them.
9. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Orlando Magic
A rematch of the 2009 NBA Finals should continue to be a big ratings pull for the NBA. They are two of the most talented teams with two of the best young big men in the game and stars all over the court. What's not to like in this matchup?
The Magic want to get back to the Finals. There is no better way to build confidence than versus the Lakers.
8. Chicago Bulls vs. Boston Celtics
In a matchup of what should be two of the three best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls and Celtics feature two of the best young point guards in the game and a similar roster that features a good matchup in the paint (Garnett v. Boozer/Noah) and on the perimeter.
The Bulls finished eighth in the East last year but are expected to make a big jump this upcoming season. The Celtics came within minutes of their second title in three years.
But if the Bulls want to show they are legitimate title contenders, want to strip themselves of the tag of being young and not quite ready, beating the Celtics should be one of their top priorities.
7. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics
What's not to like here? These two teams just went to the last moments of Game Seven of the NBA Finals have enhanced the best rivalry in the NBA. Both teams made necessary tweaks to their roster and look ready for runs deep in their respective conferences. Lakers-Celtics always sells.
6. Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics
On one side is the "next generation Big Three" with Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. On the other side is the more veteran "Big Three" of the Celtics with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
The Heat roster is version 2.0 of what the Celtics built and ultimately achieved with their title in 2008. The Heat want the same but still need to go through teams like Boston.
One x-factor in this matchup will be point guard Rajon Rondo, but do the aging Celtics have enough in their legs to keep up with the younger Heat?
5. Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic
What the NBA hopes will develop into a more notable rivalry in the league, the Heat and Magic offer two of the best young rosters in the league.
The Magic are likely the team that suffered the most by the Heat's offseason acquisitions. Now, Orlando must show that despite its relatively lesser moves, it still has the firepower to remain as not only the best team in the state of Florida, but the better team in the Eastern Conference.
4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls
Whenever these two teams hook up, it still makes us think about Michael v. Magic and the 1991 NBA Finals and what CAN be when these two teams meet on the same floor.
The Bulls now finally have the pieces in place to bring that aura back to this quasi-rivalry. Carlos Boozer gives the Bulls a double-double presence to matchup with Pau Gasol and gives the Bulls more size alongside Joakim Noah in the post.
Chicago will still have a tough time matching up with Kobe one-on-one, but the Bulls roster hasn't been this team in quite some time. Bulls-Lakers should return to national prominence with national telecasts of their matchups.
3. Miami Heat v. Chicago Bulls
A matchup of the two teams which heavily pursued LeBron James. The team he chose versus the team many analysts and sports reporters believed he should have chosen. These are expected to be the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and a glimpse at the Eastern Conference Finals. One will be hard pressed to find more talent on the floor in the East.
2. Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers likely won't put up much of a fight, but NBA fans—and especially Cleveland fans—cannot wait for the Heat to walk on the floor at Quicken Loans Arena.
Rumors are that the Heat may pay a visit to "The Q" on opening night. The Heat will likely lay waste to the Cavs but even the most fairweather NBA fan must anticipate LeBron's return to Cleveland and how Cavs fans will welcome him.
This matchup isn't about the teams, but rather the city of Cleveland versus LeBron.
1. Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Heat-Lakers is the new Cavs-Lakers. It is the biggest marquee game in the league and will assuredly be the Christmas Day game when the NBA announces it later today. They are the two teams most expect to matchup in the 2011 NBA Finals. It is a game that will feature the three best players in the league and the Heat showing their new might against the two-time defending NBA champions.
What else could you want?