Big Aussie flavour for NBA season opener
BEN Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have been given the honour to open the 2018-19 NBA season.
The reigning Rookie of the Year's rise has helped the ascending Eastern Conference franchise net the season opener on October 16, as the NBA released part of the regular season broadcast schedule.
The 22-year-old Aussie sensation will face off against countryman Aron Baynes and the Boston Celtics in a rematch of their Eastern Conference semi-finals play-off match-up in May.
The Golden State Warriors' Finals MVP Kevin Durant will be presented with a second championship ring before meeting his former team the Oklahoma City Thunder to complete the opening-night double-header.
NBA superstar LeBron James will have to wait until October 18 to make his LA Lakers debut in Portland after the Akron native left his hometown professional hoops club Cleveland for a second time over the off-season.
His home debut in the Lakers' famous purple and gold uniform is scheduled for two days later against James Harden and Chris Paul's Houston Rockets.
James is slated to meet the Warriors, who swept his overmatched Cavaliers in last season's NBA Finals, for at least two prime-time blockbusters on Christmas Day and Martin Luther King Day - January 21.
Boomers forward Joe Ingles will also be hunting for the champion's scalp when Golden State travel to Salt Lake City for the Utah Jazz's home opener on October 19.
Health permitting, Toronto will show off star recruit Kawhi Leonard when the Celtics come to town earlier that same day.
Later in the season, the Celtics and 76ers will renew hostilities again as part of a five-game Christmas Day extravaganza which also includes the New York Knicks hosting the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden.
The full 2018-19 NBA regular-season schedule will be announced on Saturday (EST).