After weeks of games trickling out, the NBA released the entirety of its schedule for the 2022-23 season Wednesday afternoon. As part of that announcement, it unveiled a new aspect to the schedule, “NBA Rivals Week,” which will run from Jan. 24-28.
New this year: “NBA Rivals Week”
11 rivalry games from Jan. 24-28:
– Lonzo Ball/LaMelo Ball
– Nikola Jokic/Joel Embiid
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 17, 2022
Some of these matchups are absolutely rivalries that fit perfectly into the NBA’s vision for the week, namely Lakers-Celtics, Grizzlies-Warriors, and Knicks-Nets. Others have recent playoff history and should be both good teams again next season, such as Celtics-Heat, Grizzlies-Timberwolves, and Suns-Mavericks. Clippers-Lakers will overflow with starpower. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid’s rivalry is manufactured by outsiders (they are seemingly good friends), but they’ve finished 1-2 in MVP voting the past two years and play the same position for a pair of title contenders. That’s a sweet battle and presumably mirrors the spirit of the week.
Not all are hits, though. Lonzo Ball vs. LaMelo Ball seems a couple years late, given this is their third year in the league together. That game could feature prolific offenses, with Chicago and Charlotte, at least. Warriors-Raptors doesn’t make sense. The majority of Toronto’s championship core from when it faced the Warriors in the 2019 Finals is no longer on the team. Golden State’s is intact, sans Kevin Durant, but the franchise is in a new era as well.
Nets-76ers could be fun if Durant is around and the Ben Simmons angle is relevant, for sure. I worry that game might pit two teams in vastly different tiers against each other, but I’m nitpicking here. Regardless, this is a pretty cool and nifty idea from the league to help spice up the middle of the season when things can grow stagnant.