At long last, Los Angeles Lakers fans know what to look forward to. The NBA announced its 2018-19 regular season schedule on Friday, giving fans a glimmer of hope at the most dead time of the offseason.
Unsurprisingly, the Lakers, led by new acquisition LeBron James, will be heavily featured by the Association, scheduled for 43 national television games on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.
The Lakers will notably have 13 back-to-back games, slightly below the league average of 13.9. They will not have any stretches of four games in five nights. Their most road-heavy month is February where seven out of the team’s nine games will be outside of Los Angeles, including the longest road-trip of the season, starting on January 31st at the Clippers and ending on February 12th in Atlanta, immediately before the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend.
You can see the full schedule here, but we have picked some of our top games to watch:
October 18, 2018: Lakers at Blazers
The Lakers will open their season on the road as they take on their longtime rivals. The Blazers have dominated the matchup in recent years but basketball fans will all get their first glimpse of LeBron James in purple and gold against the West’s third seed from last season.
October 20, 2018: Lakers vs. Rockets
Staples Center is bound to be rocking when the top seed in the Western Conference from last season visits Los Angeles in LeBron’s first home game. The Rockets will be a challenging test for a team looking to find its sea legs next to James.
November 4, 2018: Lakers vs. Raptors
The Lakers were linked to Kawhi Leonard for months before the star was traded to the Raptors. With a mysterious injury potentially behind him and his free agency next summer hanging over the Raptors season, it will be interesting to see how the former Defensive Player of the Year adjusts in the Six.
November 21, 2018: Lakers at Cavaliers
James will return to Cleveland just before Thanksgiving, with two days off before the game for The King to visit his new I Promise school in Akron. Unlike the last time James returned to the Q as a former Cavalier, Cleveland fans will likely shower the icon in praise and applause.
December 21, 2018: Lakers vs. Pelicans
If there’s one thing we know about Julius Randle, it’s that he will do anything he can to dominate against his former team. The Lakers draftee will return to Staples as a member of the Pelicans alongside Anthony Davis. Randle should be met with a great reception as his tremendous play last season put the Lakers in a position to sign James in the offseason, even if they could not find a way to retain the young big man.
December 25, 2018: Lakers at Warriors
December will showcase the first of four games between the Lakers and the defending champs. It will also be the first time since 2014 that the team will play on the road on Christmas. James has a long history with the Warriors, having played them in each of the last four NBA Finals and the Lakers will have to go through Golden State if they wish to reach the championship round.
January 2, 2019: Lakers vs. Thunder
Lakers fans will harbor a lot of resentment towards Paul George after the forward seemed to lead the Lakers on for a year before re-signing with the Thunder. The day after New Year’s will be George’s first game at Staples and the reception may not be warm for the former Pacer.
February 10, 2019: Lakers at Sixers
Not only will this be James’ only game in Philadelphia after reportedly considering signing with the Sixers in the summer, it will also be the Lakers first game after the trade deadline. If the start of the season doesn’t go as planned, this could be a reshaped team fighting for a playoff spot late in the season.
March 9, 2019: Lakers vs. Celtics
Showtime jerseys. LeBron James. Staples. The rest speaks for itself.
April 9, 2019: Lakers vs. Blzers
The Lakers finish the season against the team they start it with but this time, they will be hosting the Blazers in LA. With the level of parity in the Western Conference behind Golden State, this will likely be a huge game for playoff positioning and perhaps even for getting into the postseason.