The Chicago Bulls will have first crack at the two-time defending champion Miami Heat when the 2013-14 NBA season unfolds on Tuesday, Oct. 29. In the second of three matchups set to kick off the league’s 68th season, LeBron James and Co. will raise the franchise’s third championship banner to the rafters prior to the start of the game in South Beach, which is expected to feature the much-anticipated return of the Bulls’ Derrick Rose. The 2011 MVP missed all of the 2012-13 season recovering from a knee injury.
The Indiana Pacers, who nearly eliminated the Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, will host the Orlando Magic in the opening day’s first matchup, while an all-Los Angeles showdown at the Staples Center will pit the Lakers against the Clippers in the final game of the night. No official word yet on when fans can expect to see Kobe Bryant back in the lineup after undergoing surgery for an Achilles tear suffered toward the end of last season, but if his optimism is any indication, he may just be ready by the time the opener rolls around.
A busier offseason than most already has fans on the edge of their seats in anticipation for what the year may bring. Perhaps no team underwent more change than the Boston Celtics, who not only said goodbye to veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry, but welcomed the addition of fresh-faced Brad Stevens, the 36-year-old former coach of the Butler Bulldogs. The head coaching gig is his first at the professional level, and the spotlight will likely be on him all season long, especially when it comes to a few notable matchups.
Twice during the preseason alone the Celtics will encounter Garnett and Co. as members of the Brooklyn Nets, as well as four times during the regular season. The squad also will face former head coach, Doc Rivers, and the Clippers a pair of times, in addition to two trips to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers in what will serve as a homecoming of sorts for Stevens.
Dwight Howard’s departure from the Lakers also made headlines in the offseason, as the nine-year vet is now a member of the Houston Rockets, alongside James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons. Howard will be forced to face his former team four times over the course of the season, including a mere six games into the season. Former teammate Metta World Peace also left the Lakers in the offseason, and is now a member of the New York Knicks, though he'll only have to face his old team once in March.
The annual Christmas Day lineup is jam-packed with potential once again, as 10 NBA teams will be in action including Bulls at Nets, Thunder at Knicks, Heat at Lakers, Rockets at Spurs, and Clippers at Warriors.
New Orleans Arena, home to the New Orleans Pelicans, whose franchise makeover went into effect at the conclusion of this past season, is set to host the 2014 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16. It will mark the second time in six years that the venue has hosted the league’s annual event.
Final regular-season games will be played on April 16 leading into the start of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
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