Earlier this week, the NBA released its 2013-14 regular season schedule. While it may have surprised some that the Lakers would be featured in 29 national television games, Lakers fans know and understand the consistent appeal of the franchise, regardless of the current state of the team.
With that said, the Lakers are certainly entering the 2013-14 season with lower expectations than usual. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of games that are anticipated and hyped by the fans and the basketball community. The Lakers will begin the season with a tough stretch of games and end with an even tougher set of match-ups.
Yet, there are a few games that will definitely be circled on the calendar. We asked our Lakers Nation roundtable writers what specific game they are looking forward to the most, and here’s what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers on February 19. This is a pretty easy one, as it’s easily the most anticipated game by Lakers fans. Fans will be eager to jeer Dwight Howard for scorning them, and will surely be extremely enthused in their efforts to vilify the former Lakers center. Never before has a player of such magnitude left such a bad taste in the mouths of Lakers fans, seemingly giving them the middle finger on his way out.
Whether you were one of the fans that wanted him gone due to his demeanor on the court, or one of the ones who wanted him to stay only to be left hanging, there is absolutely no Lakers fan out there who currently has anything nice to say about Howard. Surely, as soon as the Rockets’ plane touches down in Los Angeles, there will be plenty of displeasure to be voiced during the entire stay.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): With all the uncertainty surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers heading into the upcoming NBA season, every game for this team will be highly anticipated with no telling what will transpire or how good the squad will actually be.
Although there’s some obvious games to mark on the calendar with the Lakers facing off against the Los Angeles Clippers on opening night and taking on the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Christmas Day, one game stands out among the rest.
The return of Dwight Howard to Staples Center will be the most anticipated game of the season for the Lakers. Even though the Lakers will play the Houston Rockets in the first week of the season at the Toyota Center and one more time away from Staples in January, the most anticipated game will be in February with Dwight returning to Los Angeles for the first time since deciding to leave in free agency.
It’s safe to say Dwight will be received by a hostile crowd at Staples with no love lost from the fans. Dwight may have left on his own terms, but he left a bad taste in the mouths of Lakers fans.
If the perennial All-Star found it hard to play in front of critical fans in Los Angeles that were actually pulling for him to succeed, the veteran center hasn’t seen anything yet. The boos will be deafening at Staples to say the least with all the fans of the storied franchise venting their frustration.
Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most popular teams in the NBA, and they sell out games no matter where they go. For fans on the East Coast, the Lakers only visit their local arena once a season. Even though New York City is thousands of miles away, the Lakers have a large presence in the city with an incredible fanbase.
The Lakers visit Madison Square Garden on Jan. 26 for what should be an exciting and anticipated matchup. In the team’s lone visit to The Garden, the stadium will be filled with purple and gold jerseys from fans in the area.
Kobe Bryant relishes playing in New York City as some of his best games include those against the Knicks, including his record setting 61-point game. This season’s game at MSG may foreshadow a future for the Lakers with Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. Anthony has been rumored as a possible signing for the Lakers in 2014, and this game may be a glimpse into what we can expect.
The Jan. 26 game will also reunite the Lakers and newest member of the Knicks, Metta World Peace. World Peace helped guide the Lakers to the 2010 NBA championship, and he will get his first chance to go up his former teammates.
Elizabeth Benson (@gobibs): Watching each and every game is going to be interesting for Lakers fans next season. With the team going through some reconstruction and playing with different expectations as a result, it is going to be interesting to see how the team responds.
While there a several standout games in the Lakers’ regular season that immediately catches my eye, including the season opener against the Clippers and the always entertaining yearly visit to Madison Square Garden, the February 19th game against the Houston Rockets takes the cake for me.
With all the drama and chaos that surrounded the second installment of the Dwightmare earlier this summer (but really all last season), this will be the first opportunity for the Lakers fans to “greet” the free agent that chose to leave their team in purple and gold territory, Staples Center. It is already one of the most, if not the most, hyped match-ups in the entire NBA next season.
In my opinion, this game should have warranted a Christmas Day setting, but there is a plus for having it in February as all players should be back and healthy, and each team should be gelling and performing in at least close to full gear.
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