The NBA has released its schedule for the coming season, with an eye on player rest and travel.
On Thursday, when announcing the 2023-24 fixture list, the league indicated that maximizing player rest and limiting travel demands were again part of the formula.
No team will play the day before or after high-profile national television games, such as Christmas and ABC weekend matchups. No In-Season Tournament games will be on the second night of a back-to-back, either.
For now, teams have received an 80-game schedule for the coming season. The other two games will be based on how they fare in the new tournament that starts on November 3.
Let's preview some of the key dates in the calendar...
The Denver Nuggets will mark their 2022-23 championship win and get a visit from commissioner Adam Silver on opening night, October 24, when they play host to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first of 1,230 games this regular season.
The second game of the opening night double-header is Phoenix Suns at Golden State Warriors, as Chris Paul's former team play his new team.
Assuming Paul appears in that game, it'll be the 1,215th regular-season game and 1,364th game overall of his career - and he's never come off the bench. The last time Paul didn't start a game that counted was December 13, 2004, when he was slightly late for the team bus and benched for the first four minutes of Wake Forest's game against Temple.
The debut of No 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama comes on the second night of the season, when the San Antonio Spurs play host to the Dallas Mavericks on October 25.
Christmas in New York remains an NBA tradition.
The New York Knicks will play on December 25 for the 56th time, and they will open the traditional Christmas quintuple-header by playing host to the Milwaukee Bucks in the noon slot.
The rest of the Christmas games are Golden State at Denver (2.30pm Eastern), Boston Celtics at the Lakers (5pm Eastern), Philadelphia at Miami (8pm Eastern), and Dallas at Phoenix (10.30pm Eastern).
The Lakers LeBron James will get another chance to become the Christmas all-time wins leader among players; he's played in 17 games, and his teams have gone 10-7. The only player with 10 wins on Christmas is newly enshrined Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, whose teams went 10-3 on the holiday.
Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra puts his perfect record on the line; he's 8-0 as a head coach on December 25. Only Jack Ramsay (11-3), Phil Jackson (11-7), Gene Shue (9-4), and Red Auerbach (9-6) have more Christmas wins than him.
Martin Luther King Day
There are 11 games set for January 15, the annual celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. - including the traditional NBA games on that holiday in Atlanta and Memphis.
San Antonio visits the Atlanta Hawks that day, while Golden State visits the Memphis Grizzlies.
The other games are Houston Rockets at Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas, Orlando Magic at New York, Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami at Brooklyn Nets, Boston at Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz, and Oklahoma City at the Lakers.
NBA Rivals Week returns with 11 nationally televised games across four networks from January 23 through to January 27.
Those matchups are:
- January 23: New York at Brooklyn, LA Lakers at LA Clippers
- January 24: Oklahoma City at San Antonio, Phoenix at Dallas
- January 25: Boston at Miami, Sacramento Kings at Golden State
- January 26: Dallas at Atlanta, Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio
- January 27: Miami at New York, Philadelphia at Denver, LA Lakers at Golden State
There are no games between February 16 and 21 because of the All-Star break. This season's All-Star Game is in Indianapolis. There are two games on February 15, and 12 games when play resumes on February 22.
Leap Year Rematch
For the first time, there will be an NBA Finals rematch from the previous season on February 29 - Miami to Denver to celebrate the leap year this season.
The other leap-year games are Milwaukee at Charlotte, Utah at Orlando, Atlanta at Brooklyn, Golden State at New York, Oklahoma City at San Antonio, Houston at Phoenix, and Washington at the Lakers.
No NBA games will be played on election day for the second consecutive season. It falls this year on November 7.
A pair of Sundays - December 3 and December 10 - are also expected to be off days, given how the new in-season tournament is scheduled.
Other off days: November 23 for Thanksgiving, December 24 for Christmas Eve, April 8 for the NCAA men's Division I basketball championship game, and April 13 - the next-to-last day of the regular season.
As previously announced, Atlanta will play Orlando (a Magic home game) in Mexico City on November 9, and Brooklyn will play Cleveland (a Cavaliers home game) in Paris on January 11.
San Antonio will return to Austin, Texas, for two home games again this season, just as it did last season. The Spurs will host Denver there on March 15 and Brooklyn on March 17.
Not only will all 30 teams play at either 1pm or 3.30pm Eastern on the final day of the season, April 14, but this season, all 30 teams will also play on April 12.
The play-in tournament will start on April 16, and the 2024 NBA playoffs will begin on April 20.