The wait is finally over! The NBA returns on Tuesday, October 18 with a tantalizing two-game slate featuring a pair of red-hot rivalries. The Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics get the party started at 7:30 p.m. ET with a good 'ol fashioned Atlantic Division grudge match.
Then, it's off to the West Coast, as the Los Angeles Lakers go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors at 10:00 p.m. ET. Expect plenty of pomp and circumstance from the latter game as the Dubs receive their well-earned championship bling prior to tip-off.
Opening Night always gets lots of attention, but there are many more noteworthy events and deadlines on the NBA schedule that deserve just as much fanfare. Here are 15 can’t-miss dates that every NBA fan should circle on their calendar.
Dec. 15, 2023: Players who switched teams in the offseason are eligible to be traded
Players who signed free-agent deals, or were dealt in the offseason, can be moved again in mid-December. Although it’s highly unlikely the Cavs will give up on Donovan Mitchell or the Timberwolves will throw in the towel on Rudy Gobert, other less-celebrated players could be sent packing.
Keep an eye out for Christian Wood, whose fit in Dallas is theoretical at best, or Kevin Huerter, whose deadeye shooting and court spacing could be a big boon for a contending team.
Dec. 17, 2022: NBA Mexico City Game
The NBA will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its Mexico City Game with a showdown between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs at Arena CDMX. The event will be broadcast to more than 200 countries worldwide, all of whom will immediately discover just how god-awful the Spurs really are since unloading Dejounte Murray.
Dec. 25, 2022: NBA Christmas Day Showcase
Christmas Day is the most wonderful time of the year for basketball fans as the NBA rolls out five marquee matchups. Even if you don’t like hoops, it’s an excellent excuse to get away from your overbearing in-laws for an hour or two.
The 75th edition of the NBA on Christmas Day will feature five games, with ESPN or ABC televising each matchup. pic.twitter.com/1wYrlMgFFb— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) August 17, 2022
Jan. 19, 2023: NBA Paris Game
The City of Lights will get a taste of NBA basketball in late January when the Chicago Bulls butt heads with the Detroit Pistons at Accor Arena.
The game will be something of a homecoming for Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, who began his professional career in Cholet before making a splash in the U.S. Expect him to be extra motivated playing in front of family and friends.
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Feb. 9, 2023: NBA Trade Deadline
The 2022 NBA Trade Deadline featured plenty of drama, with James Harden and Ben Simmons swapping zip codes in a seven-player deal, and Domantas Sabonis going to Sacramento for a package including Buddy Hield and hot-shot guard Tyrese Haliburton.
The Celtics also got in the mix with a less-heralded deal for Derrick White that helped propel them all the way to the NBA Finals. Only time will tell which players will change addresses this year, but rest assured, real estate agents will be standing by.
Feb 17-19, 2023: NBA All-Star Festivities
In one of basketball’s great ironies, the 72nd NBA All-Star Game will be played this year in Salt Lake City, a town that now boasts zero legitimate All-Stars following the departures of Mitchell and Gobert.
Although Utah may not have any representatives in the game, local fans can still look forward to plenty of must-see events like the All-Star Celebrity Game, the Rising Stars Game, the Skill Challenge, the 3-Point Contest, and the highly polarizing Slam Dunk Contest.
#NBAAllStar 2023 is in Salt Lake City, UT! The 72nd annual NBA All-Star Game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 19, at Vivint Arena, home of the Jazz. pic.twitter.com/9VHedB8mNr— #NBAAllStar (@NBAAllStar) February 21, 2022
Feb. 17-22, 2023: NBA All-Star Break
Not only is this a welcome break for NBA players, but it’s also a welcome break for anyone who watches the Indiana Pacers on a regular basis. Enjoy it!
April 11-14, 2023: NBA Play-In Tournament begins
It’s hard to say which invention is better: the NBA’s Play-In Tournament or sliced bread. Since introducing the tourney in 2021, the regular season has taken on greater significance, tanking has been reduced, and fans have been treated to “Holy @%$! Did you see that?!” moments like this:
NBA play-in game game-winners:— Stadium (@Stadium) May 20, 2021
MJ: 0 pic.twitter.com/JeaMKVZSLs
April 15, 2023: NBA Playoffs begin
The regular season is fun, but nothing compares to the sheer intensity of the playoffs. Buckle up as the Top 16 remaining teams blaze a path to glory.
May 1, 2023: NBA Conference Semifinals begin
It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff as the top remaining eight teams move one step closer to hoisting the coveted Larry O'Brien Trophy.
May 16, 2023: NBA Conference Finals begin
The Eastern Conference and Western Conference crowns will be up for grabs as the top four remaining teams duke it out.
May 16, 2023: NBA Draft Lottery
Representatives from the league’s 14 bottom feeders will dust off their lucky rabbit feet for a chance to nab the top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Expect plenty of weird knickknacks and loads of awkward small talk as the picks are revealed.
June 1, 2023: NBA Finals begin
The NBA’s annual title series tips off on June 1, but the big question is, who will be playing? The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics opened with the shortest NBA championship odds in their respective conferences, but both teams have been beset by controversy in recent weeks. Boston made headlines by suspending head coach Ime Udoka for violating team policies, while Draymond Green stepped away from the Dubs after mistaking Jordan Poole’s face for a punching bag. Can the two clubs survive their self-inflicted drama to return to basketball’s biggest stage?
June 22, 2023: NBA Draft
The NBA Draft is still eight months away, but there is zero doubt whose name will be called first when Adam Silver strides to the podium on June 22 in Brooklyn. That honor belongs to Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-5 Frenchman with Go-Go Gadget arms and an uncanny ability to drain threes. His unicorn-like skillset already has scouts drooling and has prompted teams like the Spurs and Jazz to shamelessly embark on full-on tank jobs just to secure a 14% chance of nabbing him on draft night.
Victor Wembanyama is a one-of-a-kind hooper!— NBA (@NBA) October 5, 2022
???? 37 PTS, 4 REB, 5 BLK, 7 3PM pic.twitter.com/jc3Jz6SLio
June 30, 2023: Free agency begins
NBA teams backed up the Brink's trucks on the first day of free agency in 2022, doling out $1.5 billion in new contracts. Nearly $500 million of that outrageous sum went to reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and All-Star guard Bradley Beal, both of whom re-upped with the teams that drafted them.
Will we see even more fiscal madness in 2023 as players like Kyrie Irving, Khris Middleton, and Andrew Wiggins hit the open market? Their agents — and distant relatives — certainly hope so.