When the league announced a tentative 66-game schedule, there was some speculation some teams simply wouldn't play each other at all this year. Those of you who can't live without those random matchups against lowly Eastern Conference teams can rest easy -- the Lakers will play every team in the league at least once. But because the schedule allows only 18 games against the Eastern Conference, sacrifices have to be made.
First, the Lakers play only three E.C. teams twice (more on that in a sec).
Home games: Chicago (Dec. 25), New York (Dec. 29), Cleveland (Jan. 13), Indiana (Jan. 22), Charlotte (Jan. 31), Atlanta (Feb. 14), Miami (Mar. 4), Boston (Mar. 11), New Jersey (April 3).
Road games: Miami (Jan. 19), Orlando (Jan. 20), Milwaukee (Jan. 28), Philadelphia (Feb. 6), Boston (Feb. 9), New York (Feb. 10), Toronto (Feb. 12), Detroit (Mar. 6), Washington (Mar. 7).
You'll notice the only home-and-home matchups this season include Boston, Miami and New York. Call me crazy, but I'm thinking this is no accident. Honestly, if the league had to stage a 10-game schedule, I suspect it would include these six games first, before the NBA's supercomputers figured out how to divvy up the last four. It's good for the game -- these are marquee matchups fans want to see -- but bad for the Lakers. With only 66 dates on the calendar, each game means that much more in the final standings. Clearly the Western Conference team drawing two dates against a set of lesser opponents has an advantage.
Other storylines we'll miss/other things we'll see:
Mike Brown's return to Cleveland will have to wait until next season.
I think we'll all be curious what former Lakers assistant Brian Shaw has to say when he returns in January in his new capacity on Frank Vogel's staff in Indiana.
Will Jan. 20th mark Dwight Howard's first return to Orlando since the big trade that might send him to L.A.?
If the Lakers lose out by having to visit Boston and Miami, they win by skipping a trip to Charlotte, where they never win.
Kobe Bryant's scoring average won't suffer thanks to missing a date in Madison Square Garden. That's a game historically worth a couple extra points per game.
The next time the Lakers visit the Nets, it won't be in New Jersey.
Bottom line: Fans get to see three of the most interesting teams twice, and only a few (Orlando, Chicago, Philadelphia) once. Yes, there will be no visit from Washington and John Wall, but really, will anyone weep over a lost game against Toronto?
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