Top 5 NBA Grudge Matches of 2014
The NBA is full of grudge matches and 2014 will be no different.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: These are the games in the 2013-14 NBA season that you absolutely have to tune it to.
Part of what makes the NBA so great is the grudge matches. 2014 will be filled with more than enough of those—where fans can revel in the hatred of an opponent and even non-fans will gather around to watch the most interesting games of the NBA regular season. Whittling it down to the top five games, here are the dates you should mark your calendar for:
5. LeBron returns to Cleveland…again – November 27, 2013
After “The Decision,” every Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers game becomes an instant classic. How will LeBron perform against his old team and home state? In years past it has been somewhat of a competition to see just how dominating LeBron can be, but this game against a Cavaliers team that looks to be playoff-bound for the first time in the post-LeBron era could be quite competitive. Watch out for Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters, and Anderson Varejao to show LeBron what he’s missing…and maybe remind him to come back home when the 2014 free agency period comes around.
4. Miami Heat square off against the Indiana Pacers – December 10, 2013
In what has become one of the NBA’s biggest rivalries, the two top dogs of the Eastern conference will battle it out in December for a game that means little in terms of the standings…but everything in terms of pride. Both teams will fight for the No. 1 seed in the East in this battle of depth and well-roundedness (Indiana) vs. superstars (Miami).
3. San Antonio Spurs go back to South Beach – January 26, 2014
Gregg Popovich has been on a long road to recovery after watching the 2013 NBA Finals slip out of his hands after a last-minute desperation heave from Ray Allen in Game 6. Perhaps revenge isn’t the best way to help that “recovery” but for everyone else, this will be a great game to watch a rematch of last season’s Finals matchup. The real questions: 1) will Popovich rest his stars (again) and 2) will David Stern come in with another fine if Pop does rest his guys?
2. Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks – December 5, 2013
The battle for New York (the state) will commence on December 5 and could very well continue on to the playoffs if the Nets and Knicks land the fourth and fifth seeds. Both teams have high hopes for the 2014 NBA season and an in-state rivalry like this will be interesting both to see how the players respond…and how the fans respond. Melo vs. the Big 5 will be fun to watch.
1. Dwight Howard returns to Staples Center – February 19, 2014
Is there really anything to explain about this one? The Lakers and Rockets meet twice in Houston before this date in February but Staples will go absolutely nuts with boos for their one-year-not-so-wonder, Dwight Howard. I plan on checking this one out not even for the game—but to see how the fans react. And don’t lie, you will, too.
Image credit: Wenn Photo Database