NBA

2021-22 NBA schedule: 10 must-watch superstar matchups in NBA's 75th season

The NBA calendar is getting back to normal with the Opening Night in mid-October, the NBA Finals in June, all teams playing 82 games and the Raptors hosting games in Toronto.

That means more superstar matchups to circle out on the calendar, apart from, of course, the league's marquee days such as Opening Night, Christmas Day and Martin Lurther King Jr. Day.

All dates and times are Eastern.

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Nikola Jokic - Nov. 26 and Jan. 30

Why would you miss a head-to-head between the reigning league MVP and the reigning Finals MVP? Judging by NBA hardware won this year, these two international superstars are the best in the world.

Last season, the Nuggets-Bucks games were one-sided with an average margin of victory of 22 points, but this time could be different, despite Jamal Murray's prolonged absence. Milwaukee, being the defending champions, are going to have a target on their backs all season

The first time the Bucks play the Nuggets is right after Thanksgiving in Denver, which has traditionally been a difficult place to play given its altitude. The second game will be played in Milwaukee, involving a three-day rest for the Nuggets while the Bucks play for the second time in three days.

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James - Nov. 17 and Feb. 8

The Greek Freak versus The King.

Led by their former league MVP winners in Antetokounmpo and James, the Bucks (2021 NBA Champions) and Lakers (2020 NBA Champions) have been two powerhouses of the league in their respective conferences, especially over the last two seasons.

Going into this year, the Lakers have re-tooled to have a Big 3 that includes Russell Westbrook, while the Bucks have one of their own from their championship roster with Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday alongside Antetokounmpo.

Over the last two seasons, these two teams have split their season series. How will this season pan out?

Stephen Curry vs. Luka Doncic - Jan. 5

Chef Curry versus El Matador.

Last year, two of the three Mavericks-Warriors games were decided by a combined margin of 61 points. However, the third instance was a high-octane highlight reel showcase between two of the league's top superstars in Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.

With all games between these two teams set to be played after Jan. 5, which could possibly see Klay Thompson return for the Warriors, watching Doncic lead the young Mavericks against two of the best shooters in NBA history is can't-miss basketball.

Dates of the remaining Warriors-Mavericks games: Jan. 25, Feb. 27 and Mar. 3.

Nikola Jokic vs. Damian Lillard - Nov. 14

The Joker versus Dame.

Over the past few seasons, these two Division rivals have provided multiple entertaining and competitive contests, including a couple of playoff series (2019 Conference Semifinals, 2021 First Round).

Even without Murray, Jokic has an ability to elevate his team's floor and with the Trail Blazer's quiet offseason, these matchups could look very similar to what their past playoff series looked like: A Jokic vs. Lillard show.

Dates of remaining Nuggets-Trail Blazers games: Nov. 23, Jan. 13 and Feb. 27

Luka Doncic vs. Trae Young - Oct. 21 and Feb. 6

The legacy of Young and Doncic will forever be intertwined because of a Draft Day trade back in 2018.

Since they entered the league, only one of six Hawks-Mavericks have been decided by double-figures and Doncic didn't play that one game.

Both young stars have balled out and put on a show in almost each of their head-to-heads and the 2021-22 season should be no different.

Stephen Curry vs. Damian Lillard - Nov. 26

The Baby-Faced Assassin and Logo Lillard.

Some of Lillard's highest-scoring games have come against his hometown franchise of the Golden State Warriors, including two of his 14 50-point games and his career-high of 61.

Meanwhile, Curry put on a show last year when he exploded for his career-high of 62 against the Trail Blazers.

We already witnessed these two stars, arguably the best long-range shooters in the NBA today, on the court on the same team in the 2021 All-Star Game. The opportunity to watch them duel it out should have these Warriors-Trail Blazers games circled on your calendar.

Dates of remaining Warriors-Trail Blazers games: Dec. 8 and Feb. 24

Luka Doncic vs. Nikola Jokic - Oct. 29

Alongside Anteokounmpo, Doncic and Jokic are two international stars who rank among the league's best. In fact, they were both members of last season's All-NBA First Team.

Since the Slovenian joined the league, these two teams have battled in several thrilling games. In five of the nine games between the Mavericks and Nuggets since 2018, the outcome has been decided by seven points or fewer, including a couple that were decided by just one point.

These two stars are sure to put on a show.

Dates of remaining games Nuggets-Mavericks games: Nov. 15 and Jan. 3

2021 NBA Finals rematch - Feb. 10 and March 6

Need we say more? The Bucks-Suns matchup in the 2021 NBA Finals was historic on multiple fronts.

More often than not, especially over the past few years, the league's Christmas Day schedule would include a rematch of the NBA Finals but for the 2021-22 season, the first of the two Finals rematch games don't come around until mid-February.

It will be worth the wait after the Suns dropped four games in a row to surrender the 2021 NBA title to Milwaukee. Stars like Devin Booker and Chris Paul will be itching to get revenge on Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat rivalry game - Oct. 21

The Heat acquiring veteran point guard Kyle Lowry was one of the consensus biggest moves of the offseason.

Coming off of their 2020 Finals appearance, the Heat had a disappointing 2020-21 season as they were swept in the first round by the eventual champion-Bucks. Tracing back to the 2020 postseason in the bubble, there seems to be a healthy rivalry building between these two franchises.

The restocked Heat have the chance to make an early impression, as they host the World Champions in their home opener on Day 3 of the 2021-22 NBA season.

Dates of remaining Heat-Bucks games: Dec. 4, Dec. 8 and March 2

Donovan Mitchell vs. Paul George - Dec. 15

Spida vs. PG-13.

Paul George certainly silenced his critics with his performances in the 2021 postseason, especially after Kawhi Leonard was ruled out due to injury.

On the other hand, Mitchell and the Jazz have to feel like they have unfinished business from last year, finishing with the league's best record before coming up short of their goal in the postseason.

The Clippers eliminated the top-seeded Jazz after trailing 2-0 in the Conference Semifinals, so there's bound to be a something little extra behind this matchup when these two teams face off, and the contest will be powered by their two stars in George and Mitchell.

Dates of remaining Clippers-Jazz games: March 18 and March 29

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