Best games of 2015-16 NBA schedule

ByROYCE YOUNG via <a href="http://espn.go.com/" title="ESPN" class="espn_sc_byline">ESPN </a>
August 12, 2015, 8:32 PM

&#151; -- The 2015-16 NBA schedule is officially set.

A total of 1,230 regular-season games will be played between October and April, but some already stand out more than others.

Here are the ones to plan your life around:

Oct. 27: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls

The season kicks off in Chicago with the Bulls hosting LeBron James and the Cavs in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference semifinals. We know the Cavs are going to be good again, but what about the Bulls? With new coach Fred Hoiberg, will they contend again? And, most importantly, which Derrick Rose will we see?

Oct. 27: New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors

The champs will receive their rings and raise a banner, but this game also marks our first glimpse at Anthony Davis under the tutelage of Alvin Gentry, a Warriors assistant last season. Just how much better will Davis be? How different will he and the Pelicans be playing under Gentry? We'll get a good idea in what promises to be an electric opening-night atmosphere.

Oct. 28: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder

So this one has some storylines. Let's count them: (1) Kevin Durant's (likely) first game back since playing only 27 last season, (2) LaMarcus Aldridge's debut with the Spurs, (3) Billy Donovan's debut as Thunder coach, (4) the Thunder's first home game in the most important season in the Oklahoma City era, (5) an early measuring-stick game between two prime Western Conference contenders, (6) Durant versus  Kawhi Leonard and (7) Russell Westbrook versus the world.

Oct. 28: Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant is back. And this could be the first game of his final NBA season. The Lakers should be better this season, assuming good health, and the Timberwolves have one of the best young cores in basketball. This one also pits the top two picks in the draft, Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, against each other.

Oct. 29: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers

The first " DeAndre Jordan game" happens in the comfort of Staples Center. Even with 20,000 Clippers fans filling the building, there's a good chance you'll be able to hear Mark Cuban yelling at Jordan.

Oct. 29: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks

It's Kristaps Porzingis' home debut. Knicks fans aren't going to boo him again, right! Right?

Oct. 30: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets

The Western Conference finals rematch. It didn't go well for the Rockets the last time, but here's an early-season chance to wash some of that bitter taste from their mouths.

Nov. 2: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Did you know: Since "The Incident" in the 2013 playoffs, Westbrook and Patrick Beverley have played against each other only twice. So there's probably plenty of pent-up Westbrook rage ready to be let out. There's also the "Harden returns" angle, but ... Did you know, Part 2: Harden now has been with the Rockets longer than he was with the Thunder (he played 220 games with OKC, and is at 232 with the Rockets).

Nov. 4: Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors

Really, this might be the best rivalry going in the NBA. Nobody seems to like each other all that much, and things get heated any time you put Draymond Green and Blake Griffin together on the same court. Add in the fact that these are two of the most explosive, entertaining teams in the league and you've got yourself a can't-miss game.

Nov. 10: Oklahoma City Thunder at Washington Wizards

Durant's only trip to the District of Columbia this season, the last on his current contract. I'm sure Wizards fans will handle it with tact and restraint.

Nov. 11: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks

Though the teams will already have played, this will be Jordan's first trip to Dallas to present himself for plenty of boos in front of Mavs fans (unless he decides to stay at the hotel.)

Nov. 11: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers

It's Aldridge's return to Portland. Surely, some Blazers fans are feeling quite burned by his departure, but Aldridge also gave them nine great seasons. We'll find out.

Nov. 11: Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies

The Warriors make their return to Memphis after breaking hearts in last season's six-game conference seims. Just for fun, Stephen Curry should only shoot from 70 feet for the whole game.

Nov. 18: New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder

Kendrick Perkins' emotional return to Oklahoma City -- er, I mean, Davis versus Durant.

Nov. 23: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers

This is Mario Hezonja's first game against LeBron. Here's to hoping Hezonja claims he's the best player in the world pregame. Because that's definitely in play.

Nov. 27: Detroit Pistons at Oklahoma City Thunder

Reggie Jackson's departure from the Thunder was moderately acrimonious, with plenty of Thunder players upset at the way he handled his business leading up to last season's trade. Jackson fancies himself as a top-tier point guard in the NBA. Westbrook is probably eager to have a go at him.

Dec. 5: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat

History aside, this one could be a pretty intriguing game between the East's clear front-runner and a potential challenger.

Dec. 12: San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks

For the basketball purists only.

Dec. 23: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets

It's going to be a heated night at Barclays when tens of fans boo Deron Williams during player introductions.

Dec. 25: New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat

The NBA's showcase Christmas schedule kicks off in South Beach, with the Heat hosting the Flying Unibrows. The league is making a pretty clear point by scheduling this one; Davis, the NBA superstar, has officially arrived.

Dec. 25: Chicago Bulls at Oklahoma City Thunder

Did you know Westbrook and Rose have only gone head-to-head six times, with the last meeting happening in 2010? That's upsetting. So maybe it's not the same matchup it once was, but it still features two of the fastest, most dynamic point guards ever going against each other. I'll take it.

Dec. 25: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors

The ceremonial Finals rematch gets center stage on Christmas Day. This time around, though, LeBron will likely have, you know, his actual team available. History can't be changed, but it will be interesting to see what the full-strength Cavs can do against the Dubs.

Dec. 25: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets

The Rockets badly want to be taken seriously as Western Conference contenders. Well, here's their chance to prove it on a national platform. Just cross your fingers that all of the Spurs actually play in this one.

Dec. 25: Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers

Christmas is at the Lakers' house this year.

Dec. 30: Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics

The first of two meetings between the biggest rivals in the NBA. It's not exactly what it once was, but if you close your eyes and try really hard, you can pretend Kelly Olynyk and Russell are Bird and Magic.

Jan. 4: Minnesota Timberwolves at Philadelphia 76ers

We didn't get a Towns- Jahlil Okafor matchup in the Final Four, so this will be their first meeting. Hey, I want to see it!

Jan. 13: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets

If you're trying to plan out your nap schedule in advance, the Knicks and Nets play on this night.

Jan. 25: Charlotte Hornets at Sacramento Kings

This game is in here because it's what I have in my "When will DeMarcus Cousins snap and publicly yell at George Karl?" pool.

Jan. 30: San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers

Perhaps the best regular-season game last year happened between these teams, with Kyrie Irving dropping 57 point in an incredible overtime comeback win. Just watch this one. It's going to be good.

Feb. 5: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers

I wonder what nice things Cavs fans will say to Olynyk on this night.

Feb. 7: Los Angeles Clippers at Miami Heat

The Heat are being sold by some as an under-the-radar East contender this season, and with a healthy Chris Bosh back, they very well might be. Their starting five is all kinds of interesting, and if the bench holds, they might push for a top-three seed.

Feb. 21: Cleveland Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder

LeBron versus KD, KD versus LeBron. The NBA superstars faced off just once last season, with LeBron taking it in Cleveland (the Thunder won in OKC when LeBron sat) and improving his record as a Cavalier against Durant to 6-0.

Feb. 25: San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz

At this point in the season, the Jazz might have already revealed themselves to be not quite as good as they could be. But if not, and they can live up to the building expectation of being a back-end West playoff team, this game will carry quite a bit of weight. National TV, a rocking EnergySolutions Arena and plenty to play for.

Feb. 27: Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder believe they're the best team in the NBA. In fact, Westbrook just said so in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Maybe they've been overlooked because of last season's injury-riddled disappointment, but when at full strength, the Thunder probably are the best challenger for the Warriors' throne.

March 19: Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies

Why hasn't this game been played inside a steel cage yet?

March 19: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs

This is the kind of game the prime-time Saturday Night NBA on ABC spot was made for. I don't know what's going to be in movie theaters this weekend, but I'm pretty sure nothing is going to be as entertaining as this.

March 20:  Los Angeles Clippers at  New Orleans Pelicans 

Not going to lie, it was hard not to list all 82 Pelicans games. But Davis against Blake? Yeah, that'll do.

March 23: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers

The Bucks might be the most sneaky-entertaining team in the league this season. So much length, so much speed, so much youth, so much athleticism. And with Jabari Parker back, they might be really good, too.

April 9: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks

The Celtics are poised to build on last season's surprise success and start moving toward the upper half of the East. This late in the season, will this game be important because they're fighting for their playoff lives, or because they're trying to move up in seeding?

April 13: Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors

Possible preview of bigger things to come? Who knows, but check out the Grizzlies' closing regular-season schedule: Chicago, at Dallas, Golden State, at L.A. Clippers and at Golden State. Not exactly how you want to cruise into the postseason.

April 13: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers

If this is indeed Bryant's farewell tour, this is his last game. Unless, they, you know, make the playoffs. ... So, yeah, this would definitely be his last game. A final night at Staples, playing an old Western Conference rival? He's totally going for 82. Shots. 82 shots.

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