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NBA 2017-18: Cleveland Cavaliers start off against Boston Celtics; Golden State Warriors face Houston Rockets

The 2017-18 NBA season tips off 18 October with the runners-up Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics squaring off at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland followed by defending champions Golden State Warriors taking on James Harden, Chris Paul and Houston Rockets at the ORACLE Arena in Oakland. Both games will be broadcast live on Sony SIX.

 NBA 2017-18: Cleveland Cavaliers start off against Boston Celtics; Golden State Warriors face Houston Rockets

File photo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, who will face off against each other in the first game of the new season. AP

Continuing their partnership, Sony SIX will broadcast two regular-season games per day, in addition to The NBA All Star, The Playoffs and The Finals.

Here is a look at the top match-ups heading into the 2017-18 season:

- The 2016-17 season was redemption for the Warriors, as they brought home the Larry O’ Brien Trophy, twice in three years. The Rockets will witness the Warriors’ banner-raising and ring ceremony before the action moves to the court on 18 October.

- The first game of the double header of the first day of the 72nd NBA season will see blockbuster trade off teams Cleveland Cavaliers hosting Boston Celtics. The game will see Kyrie Irving return to Cleveland but in the Greens of Celtics, first time in his NBA career not wearing a Cavaliers uniform. Isaiah Thomas, who moved to Cleveland as a part of trade-off along with Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, will face a his former team that includes Irving, Jayson Tatum and All Star Gordon Hayward.

- After signing up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul George will return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in his first game against his former teammates of Indiana Pacers on 13 December. Interestingly, OKC’s new star recruit Carmelo Anthony will begin his season facing his former team New York Knicks on 19 October.

- In yet another important homecoming stories of this season, Jimmy Butler will make a highly anticipated return to Chicago Bulls on 9 February, 2018 in tow with Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

- Third time in three years, Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will be a Christmas blockbuster. Come 26 December, LeBron James, Thomas will travel to defending champions’ home featuring four All Stars in Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and 2017 Finals MVP Kevin Durant.

Summer Blockbusters: Old faces in new places

The NBA experienced an unprecedented summer of player movement. This marked the first time in league history that seven players selected to the All Star Game changed teams in the following offseason.

2017 NBA offseason changes listcile

The above list doesn’t even include DeMarcus Cousins, who was traded to the Pelicans last February after representing the Kings in the 2017 All Star Game; or Chris Paul, a nine-time All Star who was traded from the Clippers to the 55-win Rockets this summer.

Among the other prominent players to change teams this offseason: eight-time All Star Dwight Howard (Hawks to Hornets), Nets career scoring leader Brook Lopez (Nets to Lakers), two-time All Star and Memphis mainstay Zach Randolph (Grizzlies to Kings), 2010-11 NBA MVP Derrick Rose (Knicks to Cavaliers), former No 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell (Lakers to Nets) and two-time Slam Dunk champion Zach LaVine (Timberwolves to Bulls).

Golden Staying Power

The defending champion Warriors return largely intact as they seek the rare feat of reaching four consecutive NBA Finals.

- Ten of Golden State’s top 11 players by minutes played are back from a 67-15 team that completed the best playoff run in NBA history (16-1).

- The Warriors added even more depth with the signing of shooters Nick Young and Omri Casspi as well as the acquisition of a premier college defender, rookie big man Jordan Bell.

- The Celtics, Lakers and Heat are the only franchises to make four straight NBA Finals.

NBA consecutive Finals listcile

30K for LBJ

James is poised to become the seventh player to score 30,000 career points. He needs 1,213 points to join the exclusive club, which is 46 games’ worth of offense for him based on last season’s scoring average of 26.4.

He is also set to be the youngest player to reach 30,000 points. James turns 33 in December; Kobe Bryant holds the record at 34 years, 104 days.

NBA Al-Time scoring leaders listicle

Westbrook's Encore

What will Russell Westbrook do next after his historic 2016-17 season?

Last season, Westbrook set an NBA record with 42 triple-doubles, joined Oscar Robertson as the only other player to average a triple-double for a season, led the league in scoring for the second time and earned his first MVP award.

Westbrook, who recently signed a multi-year contract extension, enters the season needing 21 triple-doubles to become the fourth player to total 100.

Paul George and Carmelo Anthony give Westbrook two All-Star running mates as the Thunder looks for its eighth playoff appearance in nine seasons.

Most career triple doubles listicle

New NBA Rules and Initiatives

During the offseason, the NBA made a number of enhancements to the game flow and the game schedule and approved a player resting policy.

Game flow: The maximum number of timeouts in a game has been reduced from 18 to 14, referees will assess delay-of-game violations if a free throw shooter ventures beyond the three-point line between attempts and halftime will last 15 minutes for all games.

Game schedule: An extra week was added to the front end of the schedule to further space out games, helping the NBA eliminate instances of four games in five nights for the first time ever and reduce back-to-backs to a historic low for the third straight season.

Player resting: NBA owners approved a player resting policy that prohibits teams from resting healthy players for any high-profile, nationally televised game. Teams also should not rest multiple healthy players for the same game or rest healthy players on the road.

NBA broadcast schedule in India on 18 October:

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics at 5:30 AM

Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets at 8:00 AM

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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2017 14:57:22 IST