2023-24 NBA Season Opener Full Slate: Top 5 Must-Watch Games

With the full 2023-24 NBA schedule finally released, the anticipation for Opening Night increases ten-fold. The league tries to create matchups that ooze entertainment, and they once again succeeded this year. Check out below for the full season opener slate and the top five games to watch.

2023-24 Season Opener Full Slate

Every season opener matchup is below! Who is your favorite team playing?

MatchupDate & Time
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver NuggetsOctober 24th; 7:30pm ET
Phoenix Suns @ Golden State WarriorsOctober 24th; 10pm ET
Atlanta Hawks @ Charlotte HornetsOctober 25th; 7pm ET
Washington Wizards @ Indiana PacersOctober 25th; 7pm ET
Boston Celtics @ New York KnicksOctober 25th; 7pm ET
Houston Rockets @ Orlando MagicOctober 25th; 7pm ET
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Brooklyn NetsOctober 25th; 7:30pm ET
Detroit Pistons @ Miami HeatOctober 25th; 7:30pm ET
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Toronto RaptorsOctober 25th; 7:30pm ET
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Chicago BullsOctober 25th; 8pm ET
New Orleans Pelicans @ Memphis GrizzliesOctober 25th; 8pm ET
Sacramento Kings @ Utah JazzOctober 25th; 9pm ET
Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio SpursOctober 25th; 9:30pm ET
Portland Trail Blazers @ Los Angeles ClippersOctober 25th; 10:30pm ET
Philadelphia 76ers @ Milwaukee BucksOctober 26th; 7:30pm ET

Top 5 Season Opener Games 

Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama makes his NBA debut against Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks. The 7’4” phenom brings unique handles, shooting, and shot-creation for his size, but don’t forget the projected generational paint defense. Can he slow down a dynamic Dallas offense?

There were 50 players last season that recorded at least 500 drives. Of that group, Doncic and Irving were two of the three players to notch at least a 58 FG% and 8 AST% on drives (the other being Kawhi Leonard). The Mavericks are built on their unstoppable drivers, so it will be fascinating to witness Wembanyama’s 8’0” wingspan in action.

Will rookie center Dereck Lively II display instant chemistry with Dallas’ guards in the pick and roll? Can sharpshooter Devin Vassell build on the breakout season? In his first 29 games before the injury last season, Vassell averaged 19.4 points, 4 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting a 40.4 3PT% on 7 attempts per game. Dallas’ perimeter defense is expected to be porous, so a monster Vassell game could happen.

Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors

From foes to teammates to foes, Stephen Curry versus Kevin Durant is a timeless battle. It’s the epitome of absurd shot making and perfect three-level scoring. The supporting cast only enhances the atmosphere too. Klay Thompson will go toe to toe with Devin Booker in terms of a perimeter bombardment. Draymond Green hopes to mentally irritate and lock down Durant, and Wiggins may return to peak form after having the full off-season to remove the rust.

Meanwhile, Bradley Beal makes his Suns debut – how will he handle being the third offensive option after ruling in Washington since 2020? Is a Chris Paul revenge game brewing after the Suns cast him away in the Beal trade?

There are a countless number of storylines here, and this season opener may be a Western Conference Finals preview. If both teams escape without a technical foul or two, that would be shocking.

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets  

Not only did the reigning champs Denver Nuggets sweep Los Angeles in the Western Conference Finals, but they now force the Lakers to watch them receive their rings and permanently hoist the championship banner into the rafters. Expect LeBron James and company to come out extra motivated and eager to make a statement. Also expect Nikola Jokic and company to be completely unfazed.

The prime matchup here is Anthony Davis versus Nikola Jokic. Davis was a whirlwind on defense that completely disrupted any offensive action in the playoffs…that is until he squared off against Jokic, who averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and 11.8 assists during the series on an immaculate 50/47/77 shooting split. Can Davis win Round Two and slow down the Finals MVP? 

LeBron James turns 39-year-old in December, but can he send Father Time packing again with a vintage LeBron performance? Or will Aaron Gordon continue his postseason defensive masterclass?

It’s a game that features all-time greats and bad blood. Grab the popcorn!

Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic

It’s not the typical showdown between championship contenders and grizzled veterans; however, a fight for the future is still wildly entertaining.

Rookies Amen Thompson (4th pick), Anthony Black (6th), Jett Howard (11th), and Cam Whitmore (20th) all enter an NBA regular season contest for the first time. Thompson and Black bring dynamic playmaking and positional size, while Howard’s a smooth outside shooter with handles. Whitmore surprisingly fell out of the lottery, so the Villanova product likely has a chip on his shoulder. Don’t be shocked if he immediately proves doubters wrong with his impressive scoring ability on drives.

Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner seek to prove themselves as the superior duo over Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr, while Wendell Carter Jr battles Alperen Sengun’s crafty passing and footwork. Factor in the veterans (Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Markelle Fultz, Gary Harris), and there should be fireworks.

Overall, the amount of young talent here is truly astounding. It contains seven Top 8 picks and eleven Top 20 picks from the past three drafts!

New Orleans Pelicans at Memphis Grizzlies

Ja Morant’s suspension lowers the temperature, but this season opener is still mighty appealing.

Zion Williamson returns to the court after yet another injury-plagued year. He’s been utterly dominant when healthy though and one of the best paint scorers in the entire league. He faces reigning DPOY Jaren Jackson Jr – the best shot-blocker in the league that can roam like a free safety. Steven Adams will also be anchored in the paint; he’s one of the few players that can handle Zion’s strength. An unstoppable force meets an immovable object here.

There’s an elite shooting battle too, as Desmond Bane and Luke Kennard face Trey Murphy III and rookie Jordan Hawkins. Which duo will wield the hotter flamethrower?

Can Marcus Smart and Herb Jones weaponize their defensive skills and slow down their respective opponents?

Finally, Brandon Ingram is beginning to reach his prime years. That’s a scary thought for Memphis because the 26-year-old (by Opening Night) is an unstoppable isolation scorer when locked in.

Like the Suns-Warriors game, it’s extremely feasible that this contest is a playoff preview.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2021-22 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs about analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions and NBA Analysis Network.

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