NBA SEASON TIPS OFF
Basketball season is here! Another NBA season will tip off with the Brooklyn Nets facing defending champs, the Milwaukee Bucks. If you’re a Nets fan, our GameDay Vodka Matte Black bottle might be just what you need to take your watch party to the next level. Don’t worry, Bucks Fans, you can still party with GameDay and show us how you bleed green all season long @gamedayvodka.
We wanted to take this opportunity to make some early predictions for the season, but then we thought, why? The beauty of professional sports is that you never really know how it’s going to go. Did anyone expect the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz to be playing a critical game last April with a first-place win in the Western Conference on the line? So, we won’t look too far in the future to project the important matchups—we’re drinkers, not gamblers. So let’s focus on the five games we’re excited to see through the end of 2021.
Phoenix at Los Angeles Lakers (Oct. 22)
Last season, Phoenix shocked many by advancing past the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs en route to a surprising run to the NBA Finals. Most would assume that a fully-healthy Lakers squad would have rolled past the Suns, but this Phoenix team is a force to be reckoned with even if it doesn’t have all the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles’ roster. This is going to be the second game for the Lakers new roster, and there will be plenty of adjustments through the first half of the season. But it will be fun to watch a young, nucleus in Phoenix face down the challenge of the star-studded Lakers squad so early in the season.
Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee (Nov. 17)
The last two NBA champions meet for the first of two times this season in Milwaukee, and it should be a doozy. Everyone knows about how much the Lakers loaded up after last season’s disappointing campaign, but the Bucks are the defending champions for a reason. Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in the league right now, and it’s always fun to see LeBron James face one of the bright young stars in the NBA. It would be easy to call this a NBA Finals preview, but it’s more exciting just to see two of the best teams in the league square off with far less at stake. Photo credit: @NBA
New York at Brooklyn (Nov. 30)
Last year, the battle of New York wasn’t very exciting because the Nets were rarely at full strength. Brooklyn still might be without Kyrie Irving at this point, but the Knicks are trying to regain the headlines in New York City. This is the most optimism Knicks fans have had entering a season in a long time, and there is no better way to show off New York’s progress than knocking off their crosstown rival on the road. If Irving does intend to sit out the season and not get vaccinated, the Nets will have six weeks to adjust to playing without Irving by the time this matchup occurs. It will be interesting to see what Brooklyn looks like if it must play with just two superstars this season.
Philadelphia at Boston (Dec. 1)
All of the other games on this list feature title contenders, yet the matchup between Boston and Philadelphia means a lot in a variety of ways. At this point, we’ll have clarity on the Ben Simmons situation with the 76ers and we’ll get to see what Philadelphia looks like with or without him on the court. Meanwhile, Boston had a very disappointing season last year and there was a restructuring in the basketball offices. How will this new-look Celtics team with a new coach fare when competing for championships is still the expectations within the organization. These are two franchises with a lot of questions entering the season that will hopefully have resolutions by the time they meet in December.
Golden State at Phoenix (Dec. 25)
For the third time in just one month, Warriors and Suns face each other. We are particularly looking forward to the Christmas Day meeting; fingers crossed we might get to see Klay Thompson return to the floor for the Warriors after missing the past two seasons with injuries. While he won’t be back to 100% off the bat, his mere presence makes Golden State far more potent on offense. On the other side of the floor, the Suns didn’t get much rest after the 2021 NBA Finals; we worry the adrenaline of a new season will have worn out by December. It will be very interesting to see how the Suns handle the pressures of being on target. Either way, Christmas Day will be quite revealing as these two teams square off.