Warriors-Rockets, Cavs-Celtics on NBA’s early opening night

Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) prepares to shoot as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) defends during the first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Golden State Warriors will open their tittle defense by hosting Houston in Chris Paul’s Rockets debut on Oct. 17, the NBA’s earliest opening night in 37 years.

Cleveland and Boston will play an Eastern Conference finals rematch earlier that night to begin the 2017-18 season, the league announced Thursday.

The Warriors and Cavaliers will play a Finals rematch on Christmas, the marquee game of the five-game holiday schedule.

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The other Christmas games are Philadelphia at New York; Washington at Boston in the Celtics’ first Christmas home game ever; Houston at Oklahoma City in a matchup of MVP Russell Westbrook and runner-up James Harden; and Minnesota at the Lakers.

The NBA moved up the start of the regular season in hopes of creating more opportunities for players to rest without doing so during games. The Oct. 17 opener is the league’s earliest since the 1980-81 season began on Oct. 10.

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