The NBA released the 2023-24 regular season schedule this week. The Cleveland Cavaliers will open their regular season on the road Wednesday, Oct. 25 against the Brooklyn Nets. The home opener is two days later against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Let’s take a closer look at ten games to circle this upcoming season.
No. 10: vs. Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 27
Watching Luka Dončić is truly a great experience no matter the context. His mastery of finding angles to score and set up teammates is truly something to behold in person. The spectacle is more exciting in Cleveland due to the large Slovenian population that shows up to support Luka.
Dončić didn’t play in Cleveland last season. Hopefully he’s able to do so this time around.
Kyrie Irving returning to Cleveland makes for an interesting B plot considering how infrequently he’s suited up against his former team since the trade six years ago.
No. 9: vs. Boston Celtics on March 5
This will be a measuring stick game for both teams as it will take place a month after the trade deadline and a month prior to the start of the postseason. This contest should give us a good idea as to how each team stands heading into the final portion of the regular season.
The Celtics present an interesting challenge. They are one of the few Eastern Conference contenders that likes to play small, five-out lineups. Their shooting from every position can cause trouble for the Cavs as neither Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley have shown a consistent willingness to stay with shooters on the perimeter. On the other end, the Cavs have been able to use their size inside for their advantage.
Styles make fights. These two contrasting styles should be fun to see.
No. 8: at Philadelphia 76ers on Nov. 21
It’s fair to be skeptical about the in-season tournament. However, considering the alternative is just normal regular season games, it should add a little bit of juice to otherwise forgettable matchups.
Each team will play everyone in their group once. The Sixers are likely the best team in Cleveland’s group regardless of how the James Harden situation shakes out. The winner here could go a long way in determining who comes out of Group A.
No. 7: vs. Miami Heat on Nov. 22
This will be the second night of a road-home back to back for the Cavs. Considering the other game is part of the in-season tournament, this one has all the makings of a let down. But this game isn’t on this list because of the quality of basketball.
This will mark the first time Kevin Love returns to Cleveland since being bought out last February. In hindsight, the buyout looks ill advised considering how desperately the Cavs needed veteran leadership, shooting and rebounding in the playoffs.
Those complaints aside, Love is a franchise legend who will one day have his number retired in Cleveland. His first game back will be noteworthy.
No. 6: at Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 26
The Cavs will be playing a two-game series in Milwaukee this season. This will be the second of those games with the first coming two nights prior.
These mini series are often insightful. Teams don’t change their scheme too much for regular season contests, but the second game in a row against the same opponent is often an exception to that rule.
Cleveland split their four games against Milwaukee last season, but were 1-2 in games Giannis Antetokounmpo played. We should get a good idea of what this team’s weaknesses are ahead of the trade deadline after these two games.
No. 5: vs. Denver Nuggets on Nov. 19
This will be the defending champs only game in Cleveland this season. The last time Nikola Jokić was entertaining as Mobley had arguably his best outing of the season.
Mobley vs. elite bigs will always be a must watch. Those matchups will only become more intriguing as he continues to develop his skillset. This should be a good early season test to demonstrate the progress he’s made throughout the offseason.
No. 4: vs. Brooklyn Nets in Paris on Jan. 11
This will be the first time the Cavs have played a regular season game overseas and the third international contest in franchise history. The first being a preseason game in China in 2007 and the second being an exhibition in Brazil in 2014 that is most known for LeBron James setting a screen on Matthew Dellavedova.
A midseason transatlantic trip isn’t ideal, but it should at least be memorable.
No. 3: at Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 1
It’s a shame these two only play twice a year. Both games last season were among the most entertaining of the season. The first matchup, Darius Garland tallied 24 points and 14 assists in a close road loss. The second was the infamous Donovan Mitchell and Dillon Brooks fight. While Brooks is no longer a member of the Grizzlies, there is a natural rivalry between these two teams.
That rivalry stems from how similarly these two teams were built. Both had high picks in similar draft classes and took similar players with Memphis landing Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. The similarities and contrasts seem to always make for interesting basketball.
Unfortunately the only other matchup will be April 10. It’s likely both teams will be resting key players as it’s one of the last games of the regular season.
No. 2: Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 25
There will always be a different energy in the city when LeBron James is playing basketball in his home state. That’s been the case for over two-decades and will continue as long as he’s lacing them up.
The Cavs have only beat James in Ohio twice in his career. The second coming last season as Mitchell announced his arrival to Cleveland with an impressive 17-point fourth quarter culminating in him telling LA to go home.
"Go home. Go the f--k home."— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 7, 2022
Spida talking his talk after the big three pic.twitter.com/NZ7JU2sEz5
The Lakers were in shambles when they played them last fall. They’ve since remade their roster and proved to be contenders as they advanced to the Western Conference Finals.
The two teams also have similar styles as both put a premium on attacking and defending the rim. This should be an all around fun game.
No. 1: New York Knicks on Oct. 31
There is nothing the Cavs can do in the regular season to make up for their embarrassing performance against the Knicks last spring. That will be a black cloud over this group is able to win a postseason series.
Likewise, comparing yourself to the Knicks, who were a lower seed and are less talented, wouldn’t be doing Cleveland any favors. The Cavaliers should have loftier goals than being better than a team with one dynamic on-ball player in Jalen Brunson.
Taking care of business here and the following night at Madison Square Garden will go a long way in allowing this team to move on from the debacle that was the playoffs. On the other hand, if the Cavs look like the same team that was bullied in April, we could be heading into a tumultuous season of non-stop trade rumors for Mitchell and Allen.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to get this matchup out of the way.