As we all get more and more psyched for the constantly approaching season, it's nice to take a look at which matchups will bring the most excitement this season, just to whet our appetite. Of course, we play most teams more than once, but it's fun to think about which matchups will be the most inriguing of them all.
But I do have one rule: No one team can be listed more than once.
Without further ado, let's get to the list....
Honourable Mentions: January 8th vs. SA (End of our only back-to-back-to-back), April 25th vs. Den (Home Finale, Divisional Implications?), February 20th vs. NO (Paul and West are back home), April 11th vs. LAC (Griffin in OKC, possibly fighting for the playoffs), and February 6th at Portland (The Sonics fans are back).
Okay, I'm just a bit eager to see what a healthy Kendrick Perkins can do against the menacing Grizzlies' front line. But there's still more intrigue to be had in this game. How much damage can Rudy Gay do against the Thunder? Will they rely on him and Mayo or their front line for the scoring load? Can we make them a perimeter-based team? How much burn will Tony Allen get? The questions go on....
4. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, April 22nd
The final proving grounds before the playoffs. It's Sunday, it's on ABC, and it's against the Lakers. Of course, we can't surprise them like we have in the past, but I'm sure the ABC announcers will still be singing their praises, while the LA crowd is as unintense as ever. Yeah, I'm a biased fan who hates the Lakers a bit too much, but I'd love to see the smug look wiped off of their faces.
Below: The Top Three!
3. Boston Celtics vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, January 16th
Who isn't psyched for this matchup? It's the first game against the Celtics since the trade, it's in the Garden, and it's covered by the excellent TNT crew. Russell Westbrook had his first triple double in the Garden, and last season saw a Durantless team beat them in a highly defensive battle. Get ready to grind it out and get dirty.
2. Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder, March 1st
There are four matchups against the Mavericks, so why this one in particular? Because it's the final regular season contest. This is the game that will leave a taste in everybody's mouths for the playoffs. Plus, it will show everybody how well the Mavericks can hold up after their title run, and whether the Thunder are ready to take their crown away.
1. Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, Christmas Day
Okay, maybe I'm looking forward to this one a bit TOO much because it's the home opener. And, this answer is a bit more than obvious. But aside from the lure of national TV and getting basketball for Christmas, this game holds a lot of appeal. Assuming they hold together, the Magic are one of the NBA's funnest teams to watch, with a high scoring backcourt and the NBA's most powerful and fun-loving center. Dwight Howard is always fun to watch in person, whether it be because of his pre-game antics or the subtle things he does in-game.
Aside from that, it also provides a bit of intrigue. Dwight Howard has feasted on the Thunder's inside in the past, while allowing Nenad Krstic to get all of the open jumpers he wanted. It equaled out in the end, but now the Thunder can fight fire with fire, having Perk and Ibaka to block him in the paint.
*Special Bonus: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors, February 17th. This is the game that I'm actually looking most forward to, but only because I'm a huge Warriors fan. For real Thunder fans, I'm sure it's simply a blip on the radar.
Is there a matchup that you can't wait to see? Have your own top five list? Post a comment!