The NBA schedule was released a couple of weeks ago. And yes, it’s tough to get a bit excited (myself included, to be honest) since the season doesn’t even start in roughly two months.
But we should take a look at the schedule and break it down a bit. Do they have an extended home stand somewhere? Are they going to go through a perilous road trip or two at some point? What about the back-to-back games?
So in case you need to take a look-see, here’s the schedule.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made it a point to reduce back-to-back games and the dreaded four games in five nights stretch. Lakers have 16 back-to-back games this season, which is pretty much the average for the season. The Hawks have the most with 19 back-to-backs while the Thunder have the least at 13. Nine teams don’t have to go through the four games in five nights stretch but, unfortunately, the Lakers aren’t one of those nine teams. That happens early in the schedule, though (Nov. 29-30, Dec. 2-3), so if the Lakers do have a shot at the playoffs later, they wouldn’t have to worry about that.
Their schedule doesn’t do them any favors early. After their opening game against the Rockets, they immediately go on the road for four straight. And when they do go home after that, they face the deadly Golden State Warriors. In fact, they face the Warriors three times before November ends; the Lakers and the Warriors have a home-and-home around Thanksgiving. The Lakers face the Warriors one more time but it won’t be until the final game of the season.
The first 20 games are actually split evenly for home and road games. But they have their longest road trek before Christmas as they play seven game outside of the comfy Staples Center (Kings, Nets, Sixers, Cavs, Hornets, Heat, Magic). Then the Lakers face the Clippers in the battle of Los Angeles as part of the NBA Christmas schedule.
While the seven-game road trip might spell doom if you guys are hoping for playoffs, the Lakers will be really tested in late January-early February when they play eight out of nine games on the road (with the only home game against the Nuggets in that stretch on Jan. 31). They go on a three-game road trip against the Mavs, Blazers, and Jazz (Blazers/Jazz are a back-to-back). After going home against the Nuggets, they go on a five-game East Coast trip (Wizards, Celtics, Knicks, Pistons, Bucks). This may make or break their season so we should keep an eye on that part of the schedule.
If they survive that, the schedule after the all-star break is very favorable. 15 of their last 24 games are at home and they have a six-game home stand (Bucks, Cavs, Clippers, Wolves, Blazers, Wizards) in late March. So if they’re in the running for a playoff spot, this post-All-Star schedule will be good for them.
As for games that I’m looking forward to, here are some:
Oct. 26 v Rockets: Because it’s the opener!
Oct. 30 @ Thunder: We’ve seen it before but this is permanent now: a Thunder team being led by Russell Westbrook. I want to see some destruction! (They also play the Thunder on Nov. 22 and Feb. 24.)
Nov. 4 v Warriors: An early test for the young Lakers. And why wouldn’t you wanna see them go against this new-look team that includes Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant? (They also play the Warriors on Nov. 23 and 25.)
Nov. 13 @ Wolves: Because why wouldn’t you wanna see the battle of #1 and #2 picks from last season? Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be a monster if he isn’t already. (They play the Wolves three more times at Mar. 24, Mar. 30, and Apr. 9.)
Nov. 18 v Spurs: So this is weird. A Lakers/Spurs match-up without Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. (The Spurs come at the Lakers three more times: Jan. 12, Feb. 26, and Apr. 5.)
Nov. 20 v Bulls: This seems better on paper. We get to see Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo on the Bulls. I felt weird typing that.
Dec. 11 v Knicks: Carmelo Anthony has former Bulls Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah as teammates. But more importantly, Kristaps Porzingis! (They face the Knicks one more time on Feb. 6.)
Dec. 16 @ Sixers: Another #1 and #2 pick battle! Ben Simmons against Brandon Ingram! (They get the Sixers again on Mar. 12.)
Dec. 17 @ Cavs: Talk about a test. The Lakers get the NBA champions not even 24 hours after the Sixers. (The Lakers and Cavs face each other once more on Mar. 19.)
Dec. 25 v Clippers: Of course, you wanna watch these crosstown rivals go at it. And let’s be honest, this is one of the things you’re going to do on Christmas if you’re a Lakers fan. (The L.A. teams face each other three more times: Jan. 14, Mar. 21, and Apr. 1.)
Feb. 3 @ Celtics: Obviously not what it used to be but come on. Lakers vs Celtics, guys. (We get this again on Mar. 3.)
Apr. 12 @ Warriors: The final game of the season. We close it out on an exciting note. I think.
So that’s the schedule. What games are you looking forward to? Does this schedule seem fair to you?