Brian Babineau/Getty Images
NBA fans will have the opportunity to immediately jump into some of the most intriguing storylines of the 2017-18 season during opening night on Oct. 17.
Kyrie Irving’s Boston Celtics will take on LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, while defending champions Golden State Warriors face potent challengers the Houston Rockets.
Fortunately for those who don’t want to wait even that long, there are a number of marquee preseason games still on the calendar.
With that in mind, here is a look at the schedule and predicted winners for some of the remaining marquee preseason matchups. Contests were chosen as marquee based on the strength of the teams involved, the superstars on either side and the previews of storylines for when they match up during the season.
The full preseason and regular-season schedule can be found on NBA.com.
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics on Monday, Oct. 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Steven Senne/Associated Press
The Philadelphia 76ers and Celtics are two of the most interesting teams in the Eastern Conference this season for different reasons.
The Celtics are natural challengers to the three-time defending conference champions Cavaliers after facing them in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals and adding Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris to a lineup already featuring Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.
The core group may need time to mesh together, and this is an opportunity to do just that against their Atlantic Division rivals.
As for the 76ers, this may finally be the season the Process comes together and results in a playoff run.
Joel Embiid looked like a long-term building block when he was healthy and on the court last season, No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will run the point, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric provide young and versatile firepower, and JJ Redick adds veteran experience and someone who can drill three-pointers when defenders collapse on his teammates.
Philadelphia is still being cautious with Embiid following his surgery to repair a torn meniscus, but fans should have an opportunity to watch its other young playmakers go up against one of the best teams the league has to offer.
The prediction here is the 76ers leave their primary stars on the floor longer than Boston since they are still young and in need of experience and clinch the win.
Predicted Winner: 76ers
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets on Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET
Eric Gay/Associated Press
This showdown between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets receives the TNT broadcast treatment and a spot in the most intriguing remaining preseason games.
The Western Conference is essentially a race for the No. 2 seed behind the Warriors, and the Spurs and Rockets figure to be in the thick of things along with the new-look Oklahoma City Thunder.
There is an added layer of intrigue here since the Spurs beat the Rockets in six games during the second round of last season’s playoffs. They won the final contest 114-75 even though star Kawhi Leonard didn’t play.
It was a humiliating way for Houston’s season to end, especially with James Harden shooting just 2-of-11 from the field with six turnovers. It has a different look this season after the addition of Chris Paul, meaning San Antonio can’t just unleash two-time Defensive Player of the Year Leonard to swarm Harden and not worry about another superstar.
What’s more, Leonard is out for the remainder of the preseason with a quadriceps injury.
While their regular-season games will carry more weight with home-court advantage in a potential playoff series at stake, fans will still have the chance to see if the Rockets’ new one-two punch can handle the foe that knocked them out last season.
The prediction here is the home team gets the fans behind it early with a quick run and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich limits his regulars’ minutes in preparation for the regular season, especially with Leonard already out.
Predicted winner: Rockets
Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Oct. 13 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Growing Up: Damian Lillard Tells Us How He Improved His Jump Shot as a Kid
Growing Up: the Game That Showed Isaiah Thomas He Could Be an NBA Star
Growing Up: How Kyrie Irving Became One of the League’s Most Lethal Scorers
NBA Africa Game 2017: Embiid, Porzingis & More Battle in Johannesburg
NBA Stars Are All in on #DriveByDunkChallenge, the Summer’s Hottest Meme
Lonzo Ball Proves He’s a Big Baller by Winning Summer League MVP
Best and Worst Moves of the NBA Offseason So Far
Winners and Losers of the 2017 NBA Draft
Jayson Tatum NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Celtics Rookie
Grading the Jimmy Butler Trade for the Chicago Bulls
Josh Jackson NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Suns Rookie
Lonzo Ball NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Lakers Rookie
Pick 1: Markelle Fultz NBA Draft 2017: Scouting Report, Grade for Sixers Rookie
The Golden State Warriors Have Secured Their Place in NBA Finals History
Warriors and Cavaliers Scuffle
LeBron James Goes Off the Backboard and Slams It Down
Kevin Durant and Lebron James Jawing
Kevin Durant Is One Win Away from Capping Off an Unbelievable Year
The Warriors Are Historically Dominating the Playoffs
25 Years Ago, MJ Shrugged Off Clyde Drexler and the Blazers
The second game of Friday’s double-header on TNT also makes the list, as the Los Angeles Lakers face the Los Angeles Clippers.
It must be noted it only made the list under the assumption Lonzo Ball will play, but Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com reported he is dealing with a sprained ankle that has the remainder of his preseason in jeopardy.
The Lakers will be a central storyline in 2017-18 as they look to re-establish the glory days of championships past with No. 2 overall draft pick Ball. The UCLA product already won the Las Vegas Summer League MVP and will be a primary figure in the NBA after his hype, as well as the outspoken nature of his father, kept him in the headlines throughout the summer.
He also didn’t shy away from immediate expectations with the once-great franchise that missed the last four postseasons when he said he was “focused on making the playoffs” during media day, per Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation.
The battle of Los Angeles in this contest adds another storyline as Ball faces the new-look Clippers without Paul running the show. New point guards Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic will be tasked with handling the rookie, although Lou Williams can slide in at point if needed.
The thought here is, like the Sixers, the Lakers will leave their young guys such as Ball, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson on the floor longer during the preseason to pick up critical experience. The result will be a late charge against the Clippers’ bench and a preseason victory.
Predicted winner: Lakers