On Wednesday, the NBA released the schedule for the upcoming season, which gave Los Angeles Lakers fans a glimpse at how things could go in the coming months.
How a team’s schedule is arranged may not matter as much in the NBA as it does in the NFL, but there are still quirks and patterns that can affect a team’s record and seeding.
At times, the Lakers’ schedule for this season will likely test their mettle, but there is actually one aspect of it that could help them get through it in one piece.
Here are three major things to remember about their schedule:
The first few weeks of the season will be rough
Every team wants to start the season strongly, since a strong start builds confidence and chemistry, especially for a team such as the Lakers that will have many new players.
Unfortunately, the schedule doesn’t do them many favors during the opening weeks.
They will play opening night in San Francisco against the defending world champion Golden State Warriors, then head home two days later to take on the Los Angeles Clippers, who are being picked by some to win the Western Conference.
After a winnable game versus the Portland Trail Blazers, L.A. will face the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Nuggets again in a five-day span.
Three days after the second contest with Denver, the Lakers will host the upstart New Orleans Pelicans, followed by a tilt four days later against the Cleveland Cavaliers, another upstart team.
Nov. 9 will bring another game versus the Clippers, while the Brooklyn Nets will be in town on Nov. 13.
Unlike last season, when the early weeks of the season were loaded with easier, winnable games, the Lakers will be challenged early and often.
The one saving grace: most of the aforementioned games will be at Crypto.com Arena.
The Lakers will have four road trips of at least five games each
Yes, you read that right: the Lakers will have four road trips that will each consist of at least five games.
The first comes in early December and will pit them against the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, Cavs, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons.
There will be a five-game trip starting on Christmas Day at the Dallas Mavericks that will also have contests versus the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets.
The annual “Grammy trip” will start on Jan. 28 against the Boston Celtics, and it will continue versus the Nets, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers and Pelicans.
Finally, a late-season trip has L.A. taking on the Chicago Bulls, Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Clippers.
OK, the last one is technically a four-game trip, since its final game will be in L.A., but those four games will take place in the space of just seven days.
Long road trips such as these have the potential to define a team’s season in either a negative or positive manner.
After that April 5 tilt with the Clippers, the Lakers will have only two games left on their regular season schedule, making it a tough way to end the year.
The Lakers will get some help from the schedule-makers in one area
Overall, this is a Lakers schedule that not many are digging, but there is one clear positive: the number of back-to-back games.
L.A. will actually have, along with the Atlanta Hawks, the fewest number of such games this season: 12.
Luckily, the Lakers are a much younger team than they were last season when they had many players deep in their 30s. Still, for LeBron James (37) and Russell Westbrook (33), as well as the oft-injured Anthony Davis, playing fewer back-to-back contests will be helpful.