The 2020-21 NBA season is set to tip-off on Tuesday, Dec. 23 with a doubleheader of must-see games.
To start, we'll see two of the league's best players in Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry return to the floor after missing the majority - or all - of last season. KD and Steph are two of a number of stars that fans will get the privilege of seeing back in action after far too long.
With that in mind, there will be a few must-see matchups featuring these stars that you'll want to circle your calendar for ahead of time.
*All dates as per IST
Kevin Durant vs…
Date: Feb. 19, 2021
Last meeting: Dec. 26, 2018
They've met in the NBA Finals three times and another 21 times in the regular season but the two haven't faced one another since the Christmas Day game of 2018 that saw LeBron exit with a groin injury.
Over two years later, Durant and the Nets will head to the Staples Center to take on the defending champion Lakers for what should be an exciting matchup and potential NBA Finals preview. James leads the all-time head-to-head with 15 wins to Durant's six but KD is 2-1 against James in the Finals.
With James still at an elite level, the battles between him and Durant should pick up right where they left off in 2018.
Date: Feb. 3, 2021
Last meeting: June 11, 2019
We've seen some pretty epic head-to-heads between KD and Kawhi, which added an intriguing subplot to the 2019 NBA Finals before Durant went down with the Achilles injury that would ultimately hold him out of the entirety of the 2019-20 NBA season.
While Game 5 of the 2019 Finals is technically the most recent meeting, it hardly counts as Durant was limited to just 12 minutes of action. Prior to that, the two met on Nov. 29, 2018, and it was epic. In an overtime thriller, Durant finished with a game-high 51 points (on 18-for-31 shooting) while Leonard finished with 37 points (on 14-for-24 shooting) and the win.
A year and a half after briefly seeing the two on the Finals stage, fans get a chance to enjoy KD and Kawhi battling at a high level.
John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving
Date: Mar. 4, 2021
Last meeting: Dec. 13, 2018
The No. 1 pick in 2010 meets the No. 1 pick from 2011.
In April, Wall appeared on "All The Smoke" where he said that Kyrie was his favourite point guard to go head-to-head with, a rivalry that dates back to Irving's time with the Cavaliers, a team that Wall and the Wizards hoped to meet in the postseason. The two last met on Dec. 12, 2018, when Irving - then a member of the Celtics - finished with 38 points, seven assists and the win while Wall finished with 34 points, 13 assists and six rebounds.
Now, with Wall a member of the Houston Rockets and Irving with the Nets, they'll meet for an 18th time nearly 27 months after their last meeting.
Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard
Date: Jan. 2, 2021
Last meeting: May 21, 2019
No two point guards play the game quite like Curry and Lillard, who have met a grand total of 30 times - 20 in the regular season and 10 in the playoffs. The two last went head to head in Game 4 of the 2019 Western Conference Finals, a game in which the Warriors completed a sweep of the Trail Blazers.
Since then, Lillard has recorded three 60-point games (one of which came against Golden State) and is considered by many to be the league's second-best point guard after Curry. We'll see who gets the better of who on New Year's Day.
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