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The 25 games you don't want to miss in 2016-17

From Durant returning to OKC to a ring ceremony 52 years in the making, the upcoming season is full of enticing showdowns

POSTED: Aug 12, 2016 10:35 AM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury

NBA.com

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Kevin Durant's first clash against his former Thunder teammates is Nov. 3 at Golden State.

With the full NBA schedule released, we have scanned the slate for 25 extra-special games you won't want to miss:

Oct. 25: New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers -- A ring ceremony that was only 52 years in the making. Have they stopped dancing in the streets of Cleveland since last June? Just keep right on going, Ohio. (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)

Oct. 25: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors -- The new edition of the out-of-this-world 2016 playoff series that we never got to see. Clash of 73-and 67-win teams that would have been the winningest playoff series matchup of all time. (TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET)

NBA Schedule Release Special: Beginning of the Season Matchups

Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow highlight some of the NBA's key games to start the season.

Oct. 26: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers -- You might want to mark off history. It's the first Opening Night without Kobe Bryant since Bill Clinton was President (1995). (ESPN, 10:30 ET p.m.)

Oct. 27: Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers -- Chris Paul and Blake Griffin want to show that things would have been different if they'd played last spring. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum still have that chip on their shoulders. (TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Oct. 29: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs -- Will the Spurs even know what to do without the screaming and yelling, the brash antics and loud behavior of Tim Duncan? Oh, that's right. He did none of that. Still this is a new frontier with first Tim-less home opener since 1996. (NBA TV, 8 p.m. ET)

Nov. 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors -- The Blood Feud begins. The Betrayal Bowl. Russell's Revenge. This could be the start of the tastiest and nastiest rivalry since the Bad Boys were taking cheap shots at Michael Jordan. (TNT, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Nov. 4: New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls -- Has it really been five years since Derrick Rose was MVP and dreaming about having a statue built outside the United Center? Now he's back with his, ahem, super team. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Gar Forman on Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls General Manager, Gar Forman, speaks with the media following the trade of the former NBA MVP Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks.

Nov. 10: Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat -- Mutual respect. Warm memories. So much love. No hard feelings. Yeah, right. Maybe Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley should just mud wrestle at mid-court. (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)

Back Home in Chicago

As Chicago native Dwyane Wade is officially welcomed a member of the Bulls, we reach back into the vault for Wade's thoughts on growing up rooting for his hometown team.

Nov. 14: Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers -- All Frank Vogel did was coach the Pacers to a 431-250 (.580) record and two trips to the conference finals in six years until boss Larry Bird chose to "not fire him." (NBA League Pass, 7 p.m. ET)

Nov. 15: Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors -- Now that they got that first-round curse out of their system, it's time to see if the Olympics showed DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry how to go into Quicken Loans Arena and strike gold against the champs. (NBA TV, 7 p.m. ET)

Nov. 18: Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks -- Remember those social media photos from just two years ago when Chandler Parsons and Mark Cuban were partying like BFFs after he signed with the Mavs? Well, Parsons was hurt and missed the playoffs two straight seasons and Cuban said not to let the door hit him on the way out. Now the Grizzlies' new $95 million man is back in Big D. (NBA League Pass, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Dec. 2: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls -- LeBron drops by with the newest bauble on his finger to rub it in and remind his good friend D-Wade that if he was going to leave Miami, it should have been for The Land. (NBA League Pass, 8 p.m. ET)

NBA Schedule Release Special: Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller joins Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow to discuss the NBA season schedule.

Dec. 7: Golden State Warriors at L.A. Clippers -- Every season needs some honest-to-goodness bad blood and this is the rivalry where it truly boils over. If only we could get them in a best-of-seven series. (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Dec. 13: Minnesota Timberwolves at Chicago Bulls -- Darth Vader in the disguise of Tom Thibodeau returns to the United Center with his new band of young storm troopers to give Chicagoans a glimpse of the real future and a reminder that the force is no longer with them. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Dec. 16: Los Angeles Lakers at Philadelphia 76ers -- No. 1 Ben Simmons vs. No. 2 Brandon Ingram. We can only hope it's the start of a coast-to-coast rivalry that goes on for years and years. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

NBA Schedule Release Special: Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy joins Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow to discuss the upcoming NBA season.

Dec. 25: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers -- Here we go. The first of two sparring sessions until Round 3 of the heavyweight championship next June. With Draymond Green in town, sure hope Santa brings LeBron a brand new cup. (ABC, 2:30 p.m. ET)

NBA Schedule Release Special: Christmas Day Games

Jared Greenberg and Kristen Ledlow highlight all of the Christmas Day action for the upcoming season.

Dec. 30: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State Warriors -- The NBA's version of Homecoming. Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut get to renew old acquaintances with their buddies who threw them under the bus for Kevin Durant. (NBA League Pass, 10:30 p.m. ET)

Jan. 13: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks -- Al Horford returns to his old stomping grounds, if anybody bothers to show up, to apologize for his father's comments about Hawks fans. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Jan. 16: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors -- The defending champs return to the scene for a re-enactment of their greatest triumph. Can Kyrie Irving make the clinching 3 again? Is there still the smell of champagne in the air? (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)

Feb. 2: Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets -- The list of teams and recrimination that Dwight Howard has left in his wake is growing longer than his sleeve. The Broken Promises Tour, Part III. (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)

Horford Ready For New Transition

Al Horford of the Boston Celtics talks about transitioning to his new team.

Feb. 3: L.A. Lakers at Boston Celtics -- The NBA and the world are more fun places when the Celtics and Lakers are playing for championships. So we have to check in for nostalgia and to see how far Brad Stevens and Al Horford have lifted the Celts. (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Feb. 11: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder -- Let's face it. This one is so big it could take up the first five spaces on this list. Kevin Who? There will be enough energy in the arena to light up the entire state of Oklahoma, aka, Russell Westbrook's Home. The return date is March 20. (ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Westbrook on Durant Departure

Russell Westbrook addresses the media about the departure of Kevin Durant and why he chose to agree to the extension with the Thunder.

Mar. 9: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder -- It's a perfect rematch between identical teams that have met three times in the playoffs in five years. Well, except for Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan, who played his last game on this court. (TNT, 8 p.m. ET)

Apr. 5: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons -- Dwane Casey and Stan Van Gundy will be sharpening the claws of their East contenders as they get close to the playoffs. (NBA League Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Apr. 8: L.A. Clippers at San Antonio Spurs -- The regular playoff foes have a late season showdown in the Alamo City that could determine Western Conference seeding or home-court advantage for a meeting down the line. (ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET)

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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