Report: KD returns to OKC in Feb., Cavs-Warriors set for Christmas

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The next time these three players share the court, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will be the ones wearing the same jersey. (AP/Ben Margot)
The next time these three players share the court, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will be the ones wearing the same jersey. (AP/Ben Margot)

The full 2016-17 NBA schedule has yet to be released, but a pair of Monday reports from ESPN.com’s Marc Stein suggest the league’s calendar-makers have already penciled in some high-profile matchups that every hoops fan’s eager to see.

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First up: the reunion that everybody’s been waiting on since July 4, and that gained a whole new head of steam last week:

Sources told ESPN.com that the [Oklahoma City] Thunder’s first home date of the season against [Kevin] Durant and the [Golden State] Warriors has been provisionally earmarked for Feb. 11, although changes can still be made before the league officially releases the entire 2016-17 schedule, which is expected to happen within the next week.

Durant’s first game against Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder is tentatively scheduled in the second week of the season, on Nov. 3 in Oakland.

Whatever KD’s feelings about the struggle to blend in were before, something tells me he’s going to be a slightly harder time becoming just another face in the crowd during that February trip to Chesapeake Energy Arena.

And hey, if Thunder fans have a hard time picking him out and communicating both their deep, unyielding appreciation for all he did during his time in Oklahoma and their fervent best wishes in all his future endeavors, they’ll get another chance in relatively short order, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

Unlike last season, the Warriors will come to Chesapeake Energy Arena twice in 2017. The Oklahoman has learned that Durant’s second game in Oklahoma City is tentatively scheduled for March 20. The NBA reserves the right to make alterations to the league-wide schedule. The Nov. 3 meeting will be a Thursday night game on TNT.

Based on the anticipation that will inevitably surround the game, there was heavy speculation that Durant’s return to OKC would be scheduled for opening night or Christmas Day. A Feb. 11 game at Chesapeake Energy Arena will likely be featured as ABC’s Saturday Showcase game.

As you surely remember, the Warriors and Thunder squared off in a pretty dramatic ABC Saturday Showcase last season, with Golden State prevailing in overtime thanks to a ludicrously deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Stephen Curry. That’s an awful lot to live up to; here’s hoping the fact that Durant will be wearing the other guys’ jerseys and the likelihood that Westbrook will be waist-deep in the souls of his enemies by mid-season will get this year’s model off on the right foot.

While Thunder-Warriors reportedly won’t be part of the Christmas Day slate, Golden State will once again be working … and, this time around, according to Stein, they’ll be traveling:

Sources say the centerpiece of the league’s annual Christmas Day schedule, meanwhile, is a rematch of the NBA Finals and a repeat of the Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers showdown from last Christmas.

But this Dec. 25 meeting, sources say, is scheduled to happen in Cleveland, allowing the reigning champion Cavaliers to spend the holiday at home. Last Christmas, Golden State was the home team as defending champion.

Golden State won that game, a grind-it-out 89-83 affair in which the Cavs held the Warriors’ vaunted offense down, but got monster games from Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston, and turned in their own dynamite defensive effort, to earn the W.

At that point, having won four straight games against their 2015 Finals foils, we wondered if the Warriors just plain had the Cavs’ number. Now … well, that’s none of my business. But after the Warriors spent the summer reloading with a former Most Valuable Player, and the Cavaliers mostly spent it standing pat and celebrating, it ought to be fascinating to see how the two returning title favorites stack up in head-to-head competition come Christmastime.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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