Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics to compete at third NBA Abu Dhabi Games

Nikola Jokic and Jayson Tatum among the star names who will play pre-season games at Etihad Arena

Nikola Jokic will lead the Denver Nuggets against Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics at the third NBA Abu Dhabi Games. Getty Images
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The Joker is coming to town! Yes, you heard that right.

Reigning NBA champions Denver Nuggets, spearheaded by their superstar MVP Nikola Jokic, are coming to Abu Dhabi, where they will take on Boston Celtics in two preseason games on October 4 and 6.

In what will be the third staging of the NBA Abu Dhabi Games – which are part of a multi-year deal between the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and the NBA – basketball fans in the UAE will be treated to a clash between two Western Conference and Eastern Conference giants, pitting Jokic's Nuggets against Jayson Tatum’s Celtics.

Denver Nuggets beat Miami Heat in the Finals last season to clinch the first championship in the team’s 47-year NBA history.

After claiming back-to-back regular season MVP awards in 2021 and 2022, Jokic was named NBA Finals MVP, averaging 30.2 points, 14 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.4 blocks in the Finals against Miami.

“The Denver Nuggets organisation couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to visit and play NBA games in Abu Dhabi this coming preseason. We look forward to this unique experience and being able to help expand the global reach of our great league,” said Kroenke Sports & Entertainment vice-chairman Josh Kroenke.

Celtics currently lead the Eastern Conference with an impressive 48-13 record – the best in the entire league – and are leading contenders to reach this year’s NBA Finals.

Their roster features five-time NBA All-Star Tatum, three-time NBA All-Star Jaylen Brown, 2021 NBA champion Jrue Holiday and 2018 NBA All-Star Kristaps Porziņgis. Holiday participated in the inaugural NBA Abu Dhabi Games in 2022 as a member of Milwaukee Bucks.

2023 NBA Abu Dhabi Games - in pictures

“The Boston Celtics have a rich history of international travel and countless fans worldwide, and we welcome this opportunity to play for NBA fans in Abu Dhabi. Basketball is a truly worldwide sport, and international events such as these can help inspire generations of fans across the globe,” said Boston Celtics team president Rich Gotham.

Ticket sales information and the venue for the games will be announced at a later date. Fans can register their interest in receiving more information by visiting

The inaugural edition of the Games took place in 2022 with two games between Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, marking the first time in history the NBA held a game in the Arab world.

Last year saw Minnesota Timberwolves pull off a two-game sweep over Dallas Mavericks in the capital, with the likes of Anthony Edwards, Luka Doncic, and Kyrie Irving all making an appearance.

“Our collaboration with the NBA supports our strategy of empowering youth in the UAE, the region and beyond. With the event now in its third year, we are excited to once again host The NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2024 and build on our track record of hosting top-tier sporting events,” said Saleh Al Geziry, director general for tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi.

Basketball is fast becoming a key sport in the UAE’s events calendar. Last summer, ahead of the Fiba World Cup, star teams, including a Steve Kerr-coached USA, Germany and Greece, held training camps in Abu Dhabi and played friendly games as part of International Basketball Week, before flying east to the World Cup.

“We’re excited to bring two of the best teams in the NBA to Abu Dhabi in the Celtics and the Nuggets. There is incredible momentum around basketball in the UAE and across the Middle East, and we believe these games as well as our year-round grassroots development and fan engagement efforts will be a catalyst for the continued growth of the game in the region,” said NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum.

DCT – Abu Dhabi have also announced a new global agreement between their destination brand, Experience Abu Dhabi, and the Boston Celtics.

Updated: March 06, 2024, 1:58 PM