Five noteworthy games on the Wizards’ 2021-22 schedule

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Five noteworthy games on the Wizards’ 2021-22 schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The NBA released the 2021-22 regular season schedule for the Wizards on Friday afternoon, so let’s take a look at five of the most intriguing matchups for the upcoming season:

Oct. 22: Home vs. Indiana Pacers, 7:00 pm 

Of course, it’s natural to start at the beginning. 

Wizards fans will get their chance to see the new-look team at home on a Friday night in the team’s season opener. Adam Silver expects NBA arenas to be at full capacity next season, which would mean the first time the Wizards will play in front of a capacity Capital One Arena crowd for the first time in more than 18 months. 

The Pacers lost to the Wizards in the play-in tournament last season, and spent the offseason making a handful of moves including adding Rick Carlisle back as head coach. 

Either way, this matchup was sure to be a major event for the Wizards no matter the opponent.

Dec. 13: Away vs. Denver Nuggets, 9:00 pm

One of the Wizards’ early Christmas presents is certainly a lump of coal. 

They’ll play the league’s reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets just over 10 days before Christmas. Last season, Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game as a true dominant force for the Nuggets. 

Last February, the Wizards beat the Nuggets in both matchups by a combined four points. Jokic averaged 28.5 points in those two games, which were some of the most exciting in a season full of close finishes. 

Wizards fans can get an in-person look at Jokic and the Nuggets on March 16, which may mean they’ll have Jamal Murray back in the lineup in time for that game. Still, the first matchup against the reigning MVP is sure to be can’t miss.

Dec. 26: Home vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 6:00 pm

The Wizards will get their chance at playoff revenge the day after Christmas, when they’ll play the 76ers at Capital One Arena. Last season, the 76ers knocked the Wizards out of the playoffs in five games.

While Ben Simmons trade chatter is ongoing, the 76ers still have game-changing center Joel Embiid in the lineup. And, at least as of now, most of the 76ers’ roster is the same as the one that knocked the Wizards out of the playoffs. 

The game will begin a stretch where the Wizards will play 13 of 16 games at Capital One Arena.

March 14: Away vs. Golden State Warriors, 10:00 pm

While this matchup holds little rivalry significance, or even playoff significance, any chance to see the league’s top two scorers from a year ago is a game to watch — even on the west coast. The Wizards will have a west coast swing in March, which will include one of the league's most exciting teams in league history.

A year ago, Steph Curry edged Bradley Beal in points-per-game (32 to 31.3) with a torrid end to the regular season. But for much of the year, these two were the league’s preeminent scorers.

Curry and Draymond Green are obviously still in the mix, but by that point, Klay Thompson should be back in the lineup to return the Warriors to full strength for the first matchup of the season.

The Wizards won both of their games against the Warriors a season ago, but will now get the Warriors at full strength. They’ll host the Warriors 13 days later at Capital One Arena as well.

March 19: Home vs Los Angeles Lakers, 8:00 pm

Just eight days after the Wizards face former point guard Russell Westbrook at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Lakers will head to D.C. where Westbrook will have a homecoming of his own. 

Westbrook had one of the most dominant seasons in Wizards’ history a year ago and put up 38 triple-doubles in 65 games. He also surpassed Oscar Robertson for the most triple-doubles in NBA history. Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell will get to play their former team in their new digs as well.

Oh, and not to be lost in the shuffle, LeBron James will play at Capital One Arena as well. 

The matchup figures to be a massively anticipated one, as Wizards fans will be ready to roll on a Saturday night for Westbrook’s return, as well as what figures to be one of the top teams in the league in the Lakers.