The 2023-24 NBA season is finally upon us, and while we’re barely two weeks into the campaign, we’re already starting to get a feel for how things might shake out.

One of the things that makes the NBA great is the heated rivalries that certain teams and players share. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and having teams face off against one another multiple times over the course of a season or career — or, if we’re lucky, in a playoff series — helps to build some of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports. 

While we may not have a Magic Johnson vs Larry Bird or Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors level of rivalry brewing right now, there are plenty of matchups to keep an eye on throughout the regular season. Here’s a look at what those are. 

Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics

The Bucks and the Celtics have been two of the most consistent franchises in the NBA over the past half decade, led by stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Jayson Tatum in Boston. 

The Celtics were the best team by record in the NBA for much of last season before the Bucks stole that mantle away in the last few weeks of the year, and we saw the teams face off in a thrilling seven game series during the 2022 playoffs. Right now they’re listed with the first (Boston, +375) and second (Milwaukee, +450) best odds to win it all this season at Massachusetts sportsbooks, meaning that each of the four times they play this regular season could have a pivotal impact on who hosts a potential playoff series. 

In case this brewing rivalry needed any more intrigue — spoiler alert: it doesn’t — Milwaukee sent guard Jrue Holiday to Portland as part of the Damian Lilliard trade. Portland then flipped Holiday to the Celtics, giving Boston one of Milwaukee’s key scorers over the past few seasons. 

Just imagine the drama if Holiday were to sink his old team with a last second shot in a playoff series, or if he were to end up on the wrong side of such a play. Even if the two teams didn’t trade with one another directly, it’s a storyline to keep an eye on as the season progresses. 

Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns

Much like Boston and Milwaukee, these two teams sport the best odds of winning it all of any franchise in the Western Conference. The Nuggets and the Suns met in the playoff semifinals last season, with Denver claiming the series 4-2 over a hobbled Phoenix team on their way to an NBA title. 

Phoenix will get a full season of Kevin Durant this year, assuming he’s able to stay healthy, which will help them vie for seeding at the top of the conference. Denver stayed pretty quiet this offseason, while the Suns were the third team involved in the Lilliard trade, swapping Deandre Ayton out for a handful of role players like Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkić.

Ayton has matured into a strong player in his own right, but after the Suns picked up Bradley Beal in another offseason trade, it seems like they wanted to build a more skillful lineup to complement Durant and Kevin Booker.

The west has plenty of other promising teams: one never wants to count out LeBron James and the Lakers or Steph Curry and the Warriors, but as things stand right now, there’s a good chance that these teams will clash with a championship date on the line this spring.

Celtics and Bucks vs Miami Heat

You’ll get two for the price of one in this final entry, as these rivalries go hand in hand. Despite needing the play-in tournament to qualify for the postseason as the No. 8 seed, that handicap didn’t stop the Miami Heat from bouncing both the Bucks and the Celtics out of the playoffs in 2023. 

Led by savvy head coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat have done an excellent job of playing the villain in recent years. They ended Boston and Milwaukee’s seasons during 2020’s bubble playoffs, but that’s not to say that they’re some indomitable Death Star. 

The Celtics eliminated the Heat in seven games in 2022 to head to the NBA Finals, while the Bucks did the honors with a 4-0 sweep the season before that, so each of these teams has given as good as they’ve got over the past few years. 

Miami is off to a slow start this year, posting a 2-4 record out of the gate, but as they’ve shown us time and again, it’s how you finish that really counts. 


In conclusion, the 2023-24 NBA season promises exciting matchups and rivalries to keep basketball fans on the edge of their seats. While we may not have legendary rivalries like Magic vs. Bird, several intriguing contests are brewing.

The clash between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics takes center stage, with both teams boasting strong odds and the added storyline of Jrue Holiday’s trade between them. This matchup could shape the playoff picture.

In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns renew their rivalry, with both teams aiming for a championship run. The addition of Kevin Durant and other roster changes adds an extra layer of anticipation.

Lastly, the Miami Heat’s dominance over the Bucks and Celtics in recent playoffs adds drama to their matchups. Despite their slow start, the Heat remain a formidable contender. As the season unfolds, these rivalries will undoubtedly deliver thrilling moments and unforgettable basketball battles.