Just when we were beginning to long for basketball season again, the NBA released the official schedule for the 2015-16 season and got us all even more excited to see our favorite players and teams in action once again. Despite suffering through yet another losing season last year, the Los Angeles Lakers will once again be heavily featured in primetime games on major networks this year (19 to be exact), giving fans plenty of opportunities to see this new-and-improved purple and gold team. Without further adieu, here are some of the key games Lakers fans will almost certainly have circled on their calendars.
Oct. 28: Timberwolves at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
For the opening week of the season, the NBA not only scheduled meetings between league powerhouses and a LeBron-Miami matchup but will also give fans a chance to see the cream of the crop from the heralded 2015 rookie class go at it early. 2nd overall pick D’Angelo Russell will make his NBA debut against #1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns when the Lakers meet the Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 28th in a game that will be televised on ESPN. Outside of the obvious excitement from that matchup, fans will also be eager to see the re-return of Kobe Bryant and the matchup between him and 2014 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.
Nov. 24: Lakers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
November 24th gives the Lakers their first look at the defending champion Golden State Warriors. It will also give D’Angelo Russell his first matchup with the man many, including Russell himself, have compared him to in reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry. Watching the two talented point guards trade silky jumpers will make this game an entertaining one.
Dec. 19: Lakers at Thunder, 5:00 p.m. ET
It will be all offense when the Lakers meet the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 19th. D’Angelo Russell will be asked to take on one of the league’s best point guards and overall players in the explosive and tenacious Russell Westbrook, a matchup that will undoubtedly be a huge test for him. The matchup between two stars coming off of injury-riddled seasons in Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant will also be one to watch in this game.
Dec. 25: Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Nothing like a little inner-city rivalry on Christmas Day. With both teams bringing completely revamped rosters into the 2015-16 season, the 2015 Battle for the Staples Center should be a little more competitive than it has been the last couple years (especially the 50 point loss two years ago). This game will also bring intriguing matchups for rookies Russell and Julius Randle as they match up against two of the best at their respective positions in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and should serve as a measuring stick for how the two are coming along in their development.
Dec. 30: Lakers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET
Although neither team is anywhere near as competitive as they were in 2008 when the intensity of this rivalry was renewed, this matchup will forever be an important one to the Lakers’ and Celtics’ respective fanbases. However, this game should provide more entertainment value than it has in recent years as both teams are in the midst of revamping their cores with young, talented players who will be getting their first taste of playing in the most historic rivalry in NBA history.
March 10: Cavaliers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Provided this season is Kobe’s last, this game could mark the end of an iconic matchup that dominated the league headlines in the mid-2000s as Kobe and Cavs star LeBron James suit up against each other for the last time. While last year’s matchup was way less anti-climatic than those early battles between the two, expect this year’s to be a little more competitive if Bryant is healthy. With many speculating that Kobe will likely start at small forward this year due to the expected backcourt pairing of Russell and dynamic sophomore Jordan Clarkson, the two would almost certainly be guarding each other for the majority of the night, giving fans a fitting end to one of the great perceived rivalries the league has ever seen.
Apr. 13: Jazz at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
For Lakers fans and NBA fans in general, this game will be bittersweet as it stands to be Kobe Bryant’s last regular season home game in the Staples Center. The game will undoubtedly feature multiple tributes to Bryant’s illustrious career and emotions will certainly be running high for Bryant, coaches, teammates and fans. April 13th will be a night to remember as the Lakers and the league overall tip their hats to one of the greatest to ever do it.