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What are NBA Classic Matchups? League to celebrate 75th anniversary season with five games

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The NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary throughout the 2021-22 season.

As part of the celebration, the league will honor both the league’s history and its current stars with several “Classic Matchups,” which will occur throughout the season.

MORE: Nike unveils City Edition jerseys for 75th anniversary season

Below, find a list of the NBA’s Classic Matchups for the 2021-22 season.

What are NBA Classic Matchups?

(All times and dates are Eastern.)

Monday, Nov. 1: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks

On Nov. 1, 1946, the New York “Knickerbockers” traveled north to take on the Toronto Huskies at Maple Leaf Gardens in what was the first-ever NBA game.

As the Huskies disbanded after one season, it would be another 48 years before NBA basketball returned to Toronto, as the Raptors played their first-ever NBA game in 1995. The league’s modern-day Toronto franchise will serve as a one-for-one stand-in for the Huskies as it travels to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks to commemorate the actual 75th anniversary of the first meeting.

Specific to the Raptors and Knicks, Nov. 1 also marks 25 years to the date of the two teams meeting in Toronto in commemoration of the NBA’s 50th anniversary season. In that game, the Raptors wore Huskies throwbacks while the Knicks wore “fauxback” uniforms to enhance the anniversary aesthetic.

This season, the Knicks are one of the league’s three charter franchises that will wear throwback uniforms to honor their first-ever season. According to NBA.com’s LockerVision, the Knicks will wear their throwbacks against the Raptors, who will wear their black “Statement Edition” uniforms.

MORE: Have the Knicks fixed their offensive troubles?

Classic Week: Dec. 14-18

Tuesday, Dec. 14: Golden State Warriors at New York Knicks | Friday, Dec. 17: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics | Saturday, Dec. 18: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics

In addition to the Knicks, the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors (who began in Philadelphia), round out the three teams that were active during the 1946-47 season, the first in NBA history.

To commemorate their standing as the league’s charter franchises, each team will meet one another in mid-December, centered around an Eastern Conference road trip for the Warriors, who will travel to Madison Square Garden and TD Garden.

To close the week, the Knicks will travel to Boston in a classic matchup and rivalry between two Atlantic Division foes. This will be another showcase for these teams’ classic uniforms, save for the Celtics-Knicks matchup, as both teams have home whites as their classic for this year.

MORE: Six moments to build anticipation for Klay Thompson’s return

Friday, Jan. 7: Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers

The 1971-72 Lakers set a seemingly untouchable NBA record with a winning streak of 33 games in a row. The 33rd win? A 44-point drubbing of the Hawks on Jan. 7, 1972.

50 years later, LA’s record remains intact, and the feat will be commemorated by a meeting between the two teams at the Staples Center on the same date that the historic record was set.

Whereas the 1971-72 Lakers featured the likes of Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Wilt Chamberlain, this year’s team features a Big Three of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 50 years ago, the Hawks were led by a flashy guard named Pete Maravich and now, they’ll be paced by a young superstar in Trae Young.

As some of the parallels are hard to ignore, the intrigue of this classic matchup goes through the roof.

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Bonus game

Wednesday, March 2: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers

On March 2, 1962, the Knicks traveled to Hershey, PA to take on a Philadelphia Warriors team that featured an unstoppable big man by the name of Wilt Chamberlain.

That fateful night saw Chamberlain set an NBA record by scoring 100 points on 36-for-63 shooting from the field and 28-for-32 shooting from the free throw line. While not officially considered among the league’s five classic matchups, the NBA’s current Philadelphia franchise, the 76ers, will host the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center on the 60th anniversary of that game.

This time around, New York will have its hands full in trying to slow down Philly’s modern-day dominant center, Joel Embiid, who set a career-high with 50 points just this past season. 100 might be unattainable, but a big night could be in store.

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