So the NBA schedule came out a couple of days ago. That’s great news. Of course, the bad news is that the NBA season doesn’t start until late October.
The Los Angeles Lakers schedule seems a little different than years past. They have 19 back-to-back games, which is a bit higher than what they’re used to. Also, the number of home/road games seem evened out until January when in the past, the Lakers start out the season by playing a ton of games at the Staples Center.
And while we did expect the Lakers to get a Christmas game, we all thought they would draw the Houston Rockets because it would pit Dwight Howard’s new team against Dwight Howard’s old team. Instead, the Lakers get the defending champs, the Miami Heat.
As far as the rest of the schedule, a few of us from FB&G put together a list of games we are looking forward to the most during the season. Check our lists out.
OCT. 29 v Los Angeles Clippers: Because I want to see Chris Kaman face his old mates. All kidding aside, I want to see the feud between the Los Angeles teams escalate. And what better way to resume this battle by making them an opening night game? Also, does Kobe Bryant miraculously play in this game? Intriguing drama, to say the least.
DEC. 25 v Miami Heat: For all we know, the Lakers could lose by 175 points in this game and we’ll all find lumps of coal in our stockings. Nevertheless, I just want to see if the Lakers can pull off the upset. And who doesn’t like a good underdog story (it’s funny to say that the Lakers are underdogs; I’m just not used to it)? If the Lakers do win, our Christmas would be that much better, right?
FEB. 19 v Houston Rockets: It’s Dwight Howard’s first game at Staples Center ever since he left the Lakers in Indecision 2013. It may be the loudest Staples Center will be all season due to all the booing. If the Laker fans at Staples Center throw foam fingers at Dwight, that’ll be the cherry on top of a delicious sundae drama. Let’s see if Dwight melts down when he receives all that jeering.
JAN. 17 @ Boston Celtics: It seems like for the first time in a long time, these two teams won’t be playing on a Thursday night on TNT, a Sunday afternoon on ABC, or on a holiday. Now, for the first time since 2008, a Lakers-Celtics game won’t be on national TV. So why am I excited to watch this game? It’s one of the only rivalries in sports that did NOT develop from geography, but through 12 meetings in the Finals. That’s what makes it so great every single time. It doesn’t matter that both teams are expected to have down years. Kobe still probably walks on the parquet floor at the TD Garden and remembers how Game 6 ended five years ago. That should provide enough fuel for him to put on a great show against a team that will probably have a losing record at this stage of the season, but will give it all they got against their hated rivals in front of the Boston Strong contingent.
JAN. 19 @ Toronto Raptors: Meteors are to prehistoric dinosaurs as Kobe Bryant is to the Toronto Raptors. Bryant has obliterated the NBA’s lone team north of the border throughout his career, averaging 31.1 points per game in 25 starts against the Raptors. This total is aided by 12 games in which he scored at least 30 points, including the historic 81 point game from 2006. Kobe won’t score 81 in this game, but he has recently showed some late game heroics against the Raptors, hitting two buzzer beaters in the last four years and going on a three point barrage in a comeback effort in last season’s home meeting. It seems like every time the Lakers play this team, Kobe wows us with something special. The Raptors are expected to be more competitive this season with a deep roster led by Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan so there’s a good chance the Lakers will look to Kobe to do something special again in a tight game.
APR. 6 @ Los Angeles Clippers: The last time the Lakers were swept by the Clippers in a season series, the Clippers weren’t even the Clippers – they were the Buffalo Braves. In fact, last year marked just the third time the Clippers franchise won a season series against the Lakers. The Clippers will once again be Western Conference contenders this year and the Lakers could really use a win or two against them to show that they can roll with the big boys of the West. So why the April 6 matchup over the other three? Because it’s late in the season, teams will be fighting for playoff positioning, and the Lakers will be looking at this game as a litmus test for the playoffs.
NOV. 27 @ Brooklyn Nets: The Lakers get their first look at the new-look Nets featuring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. With the Boston Celtics now dismantled, this might be the closest thing to a rivalry the Lake Show shares with an Eastern Conference opponent.
JAN. 14 v Cleveland Cavaliers: The Los Angeles Lakers have never played against Andrew Bynum. He missed the entirety of the 2012-13 season due to injury but the Purple and Gold might finally get an opportunity to use their own scouting report against him.
JAN. 20 @ Chicago Bulls and JAN. 23 @ Miami Heat: The Purple and Gold face what projects to be the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in consecutive games. This is the toughest two-game road stretch of the season outside of the Western Conference. In March they get the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. Dare I say litmus test (yes I totally cheated by adding more teams!)?
NOV. 1 v San Antonio Spurs: This is the Lakers third game of the regular season, at home, on ESPN. Nobody knows what kind of shape Kobe will be by then. For that matter, we don’t know what kind of shape Nash and Pau will be in. Nonetheless, it’s a game against one of our oldest WC rivals, a team that had an amazing run last season and a heartbreaking end against the Heat. These are old warhorses on both sides, back at it for another season.
DEC. 25 v Miami Heat: Okay, this is almost a cheat it’s so cliched. I know not everybody likes to spend their holiday in an easy chair in front of the tube, crashing after a mid-day feast while listening to announcers yammer on about how great this is when they themselves don’t want to be there and in fact, the teams don’t either. I don’t care. It’s a tradition. Hope springs eternal. I want to see the champs go down on Christmas Day. It could happen,
FEB. 19 v Houston Rockets: The return of Dwight to Staples. The #StayD12 Staples, remember that one? It’s on ESPN and it comes after a six-day rest. I’ll take the liberty of mentioning Thursday, November 7 Houston on TNT which is the first match-up between the teams. But it’s the Staples game that should be the cake – I’m hoping for a joyous welcome for Dwight followed by a determined beat-down by a rested Lakers squad. I want to see Dwight sandwiched between sweaty Kaman and Gasol. I want to see Kobe showing him what this thing called leadership is all about. I want to see Dwight not smiling.
Agree or disagree with any of our lists? What games are you guys looking forward to? Let the countdown begin.