The NBA officially released its schedule on Wednesday and fans now know when the Los Angeles Lakers will be facing off against all of their biggest rivals. With the schedule release, there are always certain games that just stand out a little more than others.
It could be taking against our biggest rivals like the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Clippers. It could also be seeing certain superstars around the league such as Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, or LeBron James.
This season in particular brings up many other possibilities as it could be the final year for Kobe Bryant. As such, his final trips to places like Madison Square Garden, or match-ups with his longtime rivals become an even bigger deal. His potential final game will also be a big deal and thankfully the Lakers will be in Staples on April 13 for the season finale.
So we asked our panel of experts which game they are most looking forward to this year. This is what they had to say:
Trevor Lane (@16RingsNBA): The most anticipated game for me has to be April 13th at home against the Utah Jazz, which will likely be Kobe Bryant’s last game in the Golden Armor.
While his retirement isn’t a certainty (and I’ll share some thoughts on that next week), right now all signs point to him hanging up the sneakers at the conclusion of the season. It’s going to be an incredibly bittersweet moment, and one that will be sure to elicit a few tears.
Bryant has been synonymous with Lakers basketball for nearly two decades, and the thought of him never gracing the Staples Center floor again is tremendously sad. Still, April 13th will provide an opportunity to celebrate the incredible career of the greatest Laker of all-time, and that will be a moment to treasure.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): In all honestly, I’m anticipating the first game of the season more than any right now. I have no idea what to expect out of this team. The Lakers could be the biggest surprise in the NBA, the worst team in the Western Conference, or simply mediocre. Anything is possible heading into the 2015-16 NBA season.
That being said, all I can think about at this point in time is the season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves. I’m anxious to see if D’Angelo Russell can live up to expectations and if Julius Randle can show just how good he can be. You already know what you may be getting in a healthy Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson seems ready to capitalize on an impressive rookie season.
Also, I’m curious to see how well Lou Williams fits into the mix and if Roy Hibbert can show the dominant defensive form of old. Hibbert should be put to the test right out of the gate against a young and hungry Timberwolves squad led by Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Kevin Garnett.
It’ll be hard to get excited for match-ups in the schedule without seeing what this team truly is on the basketball floor. After the season opener, and possibly the first full month of the season, I’ll start circling dates on my calendar, but until then, I’m looking forward to the Lakers hosting the Timberwolves on Oct. 28.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): With the Lakers being pretty bad the last couple of years, it’s been hard to anticipate match-ups with the usual teams because the Lakers usually come out on the wrong side of the ledger.
That being said, over the last two seasons there is no game I look forward to more than when the Lakers take on the Houston Rockets and this year that first game takes place on December 12 in Houston.
Dwight Howard is Public Enemy No. 1 amongst Lakers fans and I am right there on the front line. Giving Howard a loss has brought me more joy than just about anything the last two years. There have only been two wins, but both provided some of the biggest moments of the season like Wesley Johnson’s steal and three-point play last year and Steve Blake’s game winning three-pointer the year before.
There hasn’t been much to root for recently, but beating Dwight Howard just leaves a great feeling. The Lakers will get their first chance to do so on December 12 and I can’t wait.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Since the Lakers aren’t expected to be competitive for a playoff spot this year, it’s hard to get excited for any big time match-ups. Historically it’s always great to see the Lakers and Spurs battle, but this year that game will likely be pretty lopsided in favor of the Spurs.
That being said, I’m always excited to watch the Lakers play on Christmas day, no matter the match-up. Believe it or not Kobe has played in 15 Christmas day games, the most of any player. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I have great memories of waking up early Christmas morning eager to open presents and watch the Lakers play.
This year the Lakers will face-off against the Clippers and it should be a very entertaining game. It’ll be a battle for bragging rights in LA. Unfortunately the Clippers will be favored, but hopefully the Lakers can work up some Christmas magic. I for one will enjoy watching Kobe play in his 16th Christmas affair which will most likely be his last.[divide]