NBA ramps up the drama with opening week, Christmas Day slate

Will Irving be on Cavs for Warriors game on Christmas? (0:43)

Adrian Wojnarowski explains that if the Cavaliers hold on to Kyrie Irving until Dec. 15, he can be dealt for players who signed free-agent deals this summer. (0:43)

The NBA is coming off one of its most dramatic offseasons in recent memory, one that might rival "Game of Thrones" for its constant plotting and scheming.

But unlike with the immensely popular HBO series, we don't have to wait a full year to find out what happens next. The NBA knows drama and got it mostly right when it comes to the schedule, revealed on Thursday, that the league announced for opening week and Christmas Day.

In case you forgot, we'll recap some of this wild summer for you:

When we last saw "As the NBA Turns," Kyrie Irving demanded a divorce from LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and was later seen in a video hollering to Stephen Curry's best impression of James' workout video.

The high-powered Houston Rockets added Chris Paul, the Oklahoma City Thunder paired Paul George with MVP Russell Westbrook, and the Boston Celtics added Gordon Hayward.

The Cavs, meanwhile, were trying to put out fires while other teams were jockeying to position themselves closer to usurping the Warriors' throne.

Knowing all this, the NBA tried to whet our appetite, which only grew bigger in the offseason. The Cavaliers are featured twice on nationally televised games in a three-day span during opening week, and rightfully so.

We'll all be watching Kyrie and LeBron's every interaction for any signs of turmoil when the Cavs open at home against Boston on Oct. 17 in a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals, and then the Cavs have a date with rising Milwaukee and Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo on Oct. 20.

Heck, even if Irving is traded prior to the season, James is a must-watch all by himself, even more so considering this could be his final season in Cleveland, given his option to become a free agent next summer.

The Cavs have to keep James happy, and this summer's moves -- between GM David Griffin's exit and the Irving trade request -- seem to push James closer to leaving. Let's also not forget the question of how offseason acquisition Derrick Rose will fit in Cleveland.

After the Boston-Cleveland rematch on opening night, Chris Paul and James Harden will play their first game together, at Golden State. Short of a Golden State-Cleveland rematch, Houston against the defending champs is the game we want to see.

Did the Rockets close the gap between themselves and the Warriors by adding CP3? How will Paul and Harden coexist given that each guard is used to having the ball in his hands? On the other side, will the champs be even better in Year 2 with Kevin Durant?

The following night we get to see "The Process" the way former Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie likely envisioned it. Hopefully the Sixers will be healthy, with Joel Embiid ready for his second season and the past two No. 1 picks in the draft -- Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz -- making their debuts against the Washington Wizards.

Washington owner Ted Leonsis opened his vault to re-sign Otto Porter Jr. and extend John Wall this summer, so excitement and expectations haven't been this high in D.C. since Michael Jordan was in a Wizards uniform.

That same night, Tom Thibodeau unveils his revamped pack of Timberwolves, with Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson joining Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Minnesota will get to measure itself right away against the San Antonio Spurs, who added Rudy Gay in the offseason.

On Oct. 19, the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers face each other before a nationally televised audience that will get its first look at No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball. What sneakers will the rookie be wearing, and what provocative prediction will "Big Baller" patriarch LaVar Ball make this time?

On the court, Ball shined at the Las Vegas Summer League, racking up a few triple-doubles and reminding some league execs and coaches of a young Jason Kidd. If Ball outplays the Clippers' new point guard, European sensation Milos Teodosic, LaVar and Lakers Nation might explode.

Unfortunately for the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (if he is still with the Knicks by the start of the season), New York will be served up as a sacrificial lamb to Westbrook and George on Oct. 19. Maybe the reigning MVP will post a triple-double himself and help George get one against the lowly Knicks.

And on Oct. 20, opening week's nationally televised slate ends with New Orleans Pelicans star big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins getting an early shot at Golden State.

The NBA's Christmas Day schedule provides more of the usual drama and rivalries that make this holiday tradition so exciting, led by another Cavaliers-Warriors showdown.

Besides Kyrie watch (if Kyrie is still a Cavalier), we have LeBron against Curry and LeBron against Durant. Throw in Draymond Green and new Warrior Nick Young, and surely we will have a drama-filled Christmas matchup once again.

And what would NBA Christmas Day be without some beef? Look no further than Celtics-Wizards, a budding rivalry that went seven games in the East semis and gave us the "funeral game" and "Death Row DC" during the regular season.

There's also a rematch between last season's top two MVP candidates when Westbrook's Thunder play Harden's Rockets.

One thing the NBA might've missed on Christmas Day? It could be the decision to have Embiid and the Sixers playing the Knicks and the Timberwolves facing the Lakers. It would have been much more entertaining to see the Sixers play the Lakers and the No. 1 overall pick (Fultz) face the No. 2 pick (Ball) along with Simmons and his Showtime-like passing ability.

And Milwaukee against New York would have been fun to watch with the Greek Freak (Antetokounmpo) against the Unicorn (Kristaps Porzingis) at Madison Square Garden. But we're nitpicking.

As they say in "Game of Thrones": "Winter is coming." In the NBA's case, not only can winter not come soon enough, but we can hardly wait until opening week, when we get to see Kyrie and LeBron back together again -- or not.