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5 Most Anticipated Games of the Cavs’ 2018-19 Season
- Updated: August 19, 2018
Last week, the NBA released the 2018-19 schedule for all 30 teams in the league. Unlike the last four years, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be seen much less on national television. That’s primarily due to superstar LeBron James heading out west to join the Los Angeles Lakers.
Yet, there are still some games on the calendar that definitely offer entertainment and competitiveness. Below are the Cavs’ five best games of the upcoming season:
5. Oct. 17 @ Toronto Raptors
The reshaped Cavaliers will be taking on the new-look Toronto Raptors in Canada. Not only will this be a rematch between two teams that have competed in the NBA playoffs over the last three years, but it will also be the beginning of new chapters for both franchises.
For the Raptors, it will be the home debut of former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who was traded for Raptors icon DeMar DeRozan. The Air Canada Centre will be packed and ready to welcome their new star. On the other hand, the Cavs will be starting another era without James.
However, this time around, the team is expected to be competitive and fight for a playoff spot. While the world will get to see what the Cavs look like with Kevin Love, who signed a massive extension this summer, leading the way, it will also be the rookie debut of prized pick Collin Sexton.
The first game of the season will take some getting used to; however, it’s the first look into two new periods for a pair of re-energized franchises.
4. Nov. 1 vs. Denver Nuggets
An overlooked match, this game at the beginning of the season isn’t going to appeal to the national media. Still, it contains a huge storyline.
Former All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who had a short-lived stint with the Cavs last season, will make his sole return to Cleveland on Nov 1. The point guard was dealt to the Cavaliers last summer as a piece of the Kyrie Irving trade package.
Unfortunately, things didn’t come to fruition as Thomas struggled with a hip injury and reportedly was part of commotion in the locker room. After just 15 games in the Wine and Gold, the Cavs shipped the 29-year-old to Los Angeles.
Over the past few weeks, Thomas has reflected on his time with the Cavs and even took some shots at the team, including one on national television. Perhaps the most notable comment was the veteran’s disrespectful take on the city of Cleveland. Although he apologized, you can bet the proud Cleveland fan base is going to let the 5-foot-9 guard hear it.
3. Feb. 5 vs. Boston Celtics
So much has happened since Irving went over to the Boston Celtics. Yet, anytime the former Cavaliers star makes a trip back to Cleveland, it’s one game to circle on the calendar.
The Cavs’ first pick in the 2011 NBA Draft has only played in Cleveland once since departing from the city. Although both teams faced off in the playoffs, Irving sat out with a knee injury. The 26-year-old will be ready to give the Cavs a show.
In addition, this will be the first time Gordon Hayward makes his return to Quicken Loans Arena since suffering that gruesome ankle injury at the start of last season.
It will be a somewhat emotional game for the forward, who was forced to sit out the entire 2017-18 NBA season. While Hayward will be on the opposing team, Cleveland must give a standing ovation for the veteran who has fought and worked hard toward a return.
2. Dec. 5 vs. Golden State Warriors
Of course, it won’t be the same with superstar James no longer on the Cavs. However, this NBA Finals rematch is definitely going to be entertaining.
The two foes, who have faced each other in the NBA Finals for the past four straight years, have bad blood. Perhaps the most noteworthy matchup to keep an eye on will be the big man tussle between Tristan Thompson and Draymond Green.
After getting into a couple heated skirmishes during the 2018 NBA Finals, the pair reportedly got into an altercation at a club over the summer. The brawl earned Thompson some credit in Cleveland, as fans organized a parade to celebrate the 2016 NBA champion punching the notorious Green.
While responding to all the drama, Green took some shots at the city of Cleveland for putting together the parade. Certainly, the Cavs’ crowd will let the three-time champion hear it when he returns to Ohio. Apart from watching Thompson and Green go at it again, fans will be able to marvel at easily the best team in the league.
1. Nov. 21 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Without any doubt, this is the game of the year for the Cavs. James, the franchise’s golden icon, will return to his hometown as a guest again. Unlike his infamous return in 2010 with the Miami Heat, the four-time MVP is expected to receive a roaring standing ovation.
The 33-year-old will be in opposing purple and gold on that day, but he will always be remembered for the attachment he has to Cleveland. James delivered his promise to bring a championship to Ohio in 2016 by defeating the near-perfect Warriors in the NBA Finals.
On top of that, the forward spent multiple, miserable years representing the franchise that drafted him out of pure loyalty. James took poor teams to deep playoff runs in his early years, and brought a lowly Cavs team to the NBA Finals last season.
In addition to welcoming one of the greatest players ever, the Cavs will get to see the Lakers’ young core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. The talented trio always puts on a show, and is only going to get better as the season goes on.