We are already less than a month away from the 2020-21 NBA season, which tips off on Dec. 22.
Training camps will open on Dec. 1 and the first half of the regular season schedule is expected to be released around that date. (The league decided to release the schedule in portions to leave room for make-up games in case of postponements.)
Opening night is always a big night in the NBA and usually features marquee teams and players that fans have been waiting for all off-season long to get a glimpse of.
We asked our NBA.com staff who they'd want to see play on Dec. 22.
Carlan Gay ( @TheCarlanGay ): I'm going with a Los Angeles Lakers-Golden State Warriors opening night at Staples Centre.
The NBA Champs always play on opening night and it doesn't hurt that the biggest star in the league (and best player) also plays there in LeBron James. And I'm dying to see a healthy Stephen Curry back on the floor for the Warriors.
It feels like forever since we've seen Curry play - even if he had a small appearance last season. I'm also still intrigued by Andrew Wiggins in Golden State and would love to see how that plays out over the course of the season.
The Lakers, in my opinion, reloaded with enough talent that should make them favourites to repeat. I'd like to see them flex their muscles right out of the gate on opening night against a team that many may be sleeping on out West.
I want this game on opening night, save Lakers-Clippers for Christmas.
Gilbert McGregor ( @GMcGregor21 ): I want to see the Brooklyn Nets take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
We've waited a full season at this point, so I don't want to waste any more time to see this new era of Brooklyn basketball. By opening day, it will have been 18 months since we have seen Kevin Durant play basketball, which, as a fan and follower of the game, is much too long. And we can immediately get a chance to see how he plays alongside Kyrie Irving and under the leadership of first-time head coach Steve Nash.
These Nets understandably have title aspirations, and I'm not sure that there's a better measuring stick than the retooled Bucks, who have a scary new trio headlined by none other than back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Playoff shortcomings aside, the Bucks have been the strongest regular-season team over the past two seasons and in adding Jrue Holiday, have given themselves an even higher ceiling.
With Holiday lining up against Kyrie and Giannis matching up with KD, I can't think of a much better matchup to start the season. Similar to what Carlan said about Lakers-Clippers, I'd want a potential Nets-Celtics meeting on Christmas.
Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ ): Since the Lakers will certainly have their ring ceremony on opening night, I'm going to double down on what Carlan said for a Los Angeles-Golden State game for the second spot of the two-game slate.
But for that first game, give me the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers .
The 76ers defeated the Celtics on each team's opening night last year but it wasn't a part of the first slate of games of the NBA season. Philly would go on to beat its rival three times in four meetings during the 2019-20 season, but it was Boston who got the last laugh.
With the 76ers depleted roster heading into the playoffs, the Celtics made quick work of their division foe, sweeping them out of the postseason in four games. Philadelphia has to feel like it didn't get a fair shot at Boston and with new upper management switching up the roster under a new head coach in Doc Rivers, there's a lot of new pieces in place around the All-Star tandem of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
This would give us an opportunity to see what's in store for the new-look Sixers, while we'd also get to see just what Jayson Tatum may be capable of in trying to take another leap into the NBA's top-tier fresh off of a max contract extension.
Yash Matange ( @yashmatange2694 ): Give me the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors.
These two class organizations have got everything - a couple of All-Stars each (Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo), two head coaches (Erik Spoelstra and Nick Nurse) known for their high IQ, and depth in their roster led by stars in their supporting cast (Fred VanVleet, Goran Dragic). Nothing like two star-studded, hard-nosed, deep, gritty teams fighting it off in a competitive close contest to tip-off the season.
The Heat, having brought back most of their squad by re-signing their biggest free agent in Dragic, look set to make another deep postseason run. On the other hand, the Raptors have lost key big men in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol but by signing the likes of Aron Baynes and re-signing young talent Chris Boucher, they seemed determined to thrive under the tag of underdogs once again.
You need a couple of East squads to go at it to open the schedule with the league's championship banner going up in Los Angeles, so it certainly wouldn't hurt to have the 2020 NBA runners-up taking on the 2019 NBA champions, albeit with a slightly different cast.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.