For years, the idea of a sellout crowd packing Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena to watch Kevin Durant hasn’t been big news. But when it happens on Feburary 11th, it will be one of the most important nights of the season.
The NBA released its schedule for 2016/17 this week, and Durant’s return to OKC to face his former fans is among the highlights. Durant shook the franchise on July 4th when he announced he was joining the Warriors, and Thunder fans have been waiting for the new schedule to see which date they should circle on their calendars.
But Durant wasn’t the only big name to change teams this offseason, and there are many more eventful nights on the schedule. Along with Durant’s return, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated ranks these as the most intriguing games to watch:
- Warriors at Cavaliers, December 25th: These teams have met in the last two NBA finals and may be headed for a third. But first, they will be part of the annual ABC/ESPN Christmas marathon. The addition of Durant should add spice to an already intense rivalry.
- Knicks at Cavaliers, October 25th: It may be Cleveland’s most anticipated home opener ever as the city will raise its first championship banner in any sport since 1964.
- Cavaliers at Warriors, January 16th: LeBron James and company will make their first trip back to Oracle Arena since winning Game 7 of the finals.
- Bulls at Heat, November 10th: Miami fans still may not be over the shock of Dwyane Wade leaving town by the time this game tips off. Wade’s career with the Heat included 13 seasons and three NBA titles, and he remains a fan favorite no matter what uniform he wears.
- Rockets at Lakers, October 26th: The reality of the post-Kobe Bryant era settles in as L.A. plays its first home game without him on the roster since 1996.
- Pelicans at Spurs, October 29th: There will be a similar situation in Texas, as San Antonio starts its first season without Tim Duncan since 1997.
- Knicks at Bulls, November 4th: Chicago native Derrick Rose comes to town in a visiting uniform for the first time in his NBA career. Accompanying him will be long-time Bulls center Joakim Noah.
- Spurs at Warriors, October 25th: Both teams were chasing history for most of last season before Golden State got there with 73 wins. With Durant gone from Oklahoma City, there’s a good chance these will be the top two teams in the West again.
- Lakers at Sixers, December 16th: The top two picks in the draft, Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, square off for the first time in the NBA.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Which game are you most anticipating next season and why? Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.